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Finding Kat Edison

Chapter Text

“One day you’re going to remember me and how much I loved you… then you’re gonna hate yourself for letting me go.“

~Aubrey Drake Graham

******************************************************

Kat was on the verge of tears, as she stepped out of Adena’s Chelsea apartment and into the street. She had just finished telling Adena she needed to find herself and didn’t want a relationship with her. If that wasn’t bad enough, the night’s thick muggy air felt like it was squeezing all the oxygen out of her lungs. Kat could barely breath and ran into a bodega across the street to buy a cold bottle of water. It was late and the only other customer inside was a heavyset older woman with a mini-folding shopping cart, looking in the refrigerated display case in back, next to the cold waters.

“Oh my, I hope these eggs are fresh. They expired yesterday. What do you think, Miss?”

Kat looked up holding a bottled water and just started bawling in her free hand.

“Oh no, baby girl! Did some cruel man break your heart? Come, come give your auntie Melva a hug,” the woman offered.

“It’s okay, I’m....I’m okay,” Kat said wiping her tears on the back of her blazer sleeve. “I actually broke my own heart this time. But thank you. The eggs should be fine for another month.... Have a goodnight.”

Kat swiveled to her left and trudged to the cashier to pay for the water and a large bag of Kit Kats she grabbed on the way there. She knew she had lots of wine at her place to wash the chocolate wafers down, so she hit the sidewalk again and flagged down a cab, heading home. She was in a rush to get as far from Adena’s apartment as possible.

- - - - -
The alarm sound blared from Kat’s phone and she reached out and blindly tapped snooze, grabbing the bedsheets and pulling them completely over her head. But nine minutes later the annoying foghorn noise was blasting again, signaling that the Social Media Director had to get up for work. She held her throbbing head and yelled out into the empty loft, “Fuck!” Kat sat up in bed and this time stopped the irritating sound for good. “Ohhh, why is my life always so fucking complicated?”

It was Thursday morning and she had an early pitch meeting with Angie, Patrick, and Jacqueline. So she ambled over to her kitchen and clicked the coffee pot on, then went to take a shower. The water was set on as hot as she could physically take, hoping the steam would clear her sinuses and relieve some of her headache.

She dried and got semi-dressed, gulping down two cups of coffee and eating a bowl of cereal. Kat then popped two aspirins and picked up her phone to text her friends.

Kat/Jane/Sutton (KAT):
Hey guys
Sooo last night I broke it off with Tia and Adena
Just call me single-pringle

Kat wanted her friends to know what had happened but wanted to keep it all light, and not a big deal.

. . .

JANE:
What?! OMG Kat, that’s a BIG deal!

KAT:
Nooo! It’s ok, Jane.
I need this right now....freedom
I just need to be alone and find myself

JANE:
Babe, what’s there to find???
You just lost an election, but the rest of your life’s great!
SUTTON??????????????!

KAT:
Look, let’s talk about it at work
I’m gonna go finish getting ready
Just wanted you guys to know the sitch

. . .

SUTTON:
WHAT THE F, KAT!!!!!!!
Sorry, I was in the shower
So you just got to have bomb sex with Adena and you’re dumping her already??

KAT:
Shit! I’m not dumping her!
We weren’t dating!
I’m off to dress!

JANE:
Oh-k, talk soon at work instead

KAT:
FINE

SUTTON:
Fine
See you soon!

- - - - -
The three friends met up in the Safford Building’s lobby and spent a few spare minutes talking to Kat about Tia and Adena. Kat caught them up on her relationship drama a bit until they had to leave, taking the elevator up and walking into Scarlet’s 38th floor.

.... “Andrew what’s going on, where’s Jacqueline?!” Jane demanded information.

The three friends couldn’t believe their eyes. The whole office floor was being evacuated. There were boxes everywhere and all the desks were being taken apart and carried out.

“Okay, okay. Attention everyone, gather around the bullpen!” Lauren Park had come down from the Executive Department of Advertising to talk to the employees. “Jacqueline asked me to address you all this morning, as she had a family emergency and had to fly out to Chicago for a few days. As you can see, your workspace is being removed. During a routine maintenance check, our building engineers found asbestos in the office ceiling pipe insulation. Being exposed to asbestos is very detrimental to our health, so the entire 38th floor of Scarlet will be evacuated and relocated until the nasty stuff is removed. Please head over to the 34th floor for relocation assignments. I WILL NOT have time for any questions, thank you.”

“Wow, crazy morning!” Jane proclaimed as she looked over to Kat and Sutton who we’re still shocked by the ordeal.

- - - - -
It was one week after the asbestos relocation and everyone was settled into their temporary new workspaces. Kat was housed on the 34th floor with Patrick, Angie, Jacqueline and crew, and had come up to the 40th floor to see Jane and Sutton. She was sitting on Jane’s desk drinking a mango-chia smoothie. “I hate the fact that we are located on different floors. I miss seeing you and Sutton from across the room.”

“Yeah, me too. And I miss our fashion closet meetings even more,” Jane replied.

“That open space they moved Sutton and Oliver to just doesn’t cut it for a fashion closet. Can’t wait ‘til they fix the 38th floor. Stupid asbestos!”

Jane was sitting in her office chair, wiping down her computer keyboard and looked up at Kat and said, “Hey, earlier I walked in on Theresa from H.R. telling Jacqueline that Adena starts next Monday morning.”

“Oh-kay.... I figured she’d start soon,” Kat replied with a nonchalant shrug, sucking on her straw.

Jane tilted her head. “How do you feel about that?”

“It’s a free country....she’s entitled.”

Jane stopped what she was doing and swiveled her body completely towards Kat with her mouth quirked up and a questioning look.

“What? I really don’t want to talk about it. Our situation is awkward and in a state of limbo right now. I just want to let everything be....normal, as best possible.”

“So....you talking about just being friends? Or, you talking about acquaintances...enemies...strangers....Uhmmm?” Jane asked with slow, short nods of her head.

Kat took a deep breath and set down her drink, scratching at the back of her head. “I’m shooting for just good friends...coworkers who occasionally grab a coffee downstairs.”

Jane looked at her friend with a small grin and Sutton walked over to Jane’s desk.

“Howdy y’all!....Hey, Kat is visiting us.... Hooray!”

“Hi Sutton,” Kat greeted.

“Have I mentioned how much I love this Vera Wang blouse I’m wearing? Got it at the ‘Rag Outlet’ last weekend. Drool beaches, drool!”

“Yes you have.” Jane and Kat answered in unison, slapping their flat palms together in a high-five.

“Ha, ha! You guys are sooo cool.” Sutton mocked and stuck her tongue out at the two.

Kat stood up and tossed her empty cup in Jane’s trash bin. “Welp, I best go back to my desk. Patrick’s got me doing some bullshit post on how face cream actually causes wrinkles.” Jane chuckled and rolled her eyes.

Before Kat could walk off, Sutton held her arm saying, “Kat, Richard mentioned Adena’s starting next week. He was asked to sign off on her employment contract by HR last night. Thought you’d want to know such juicy news.”

Kat looked down towards Jane and then back up at the blonde, sighing....”On that note, I’m outta here,” and left.

Jane looked at Sutton and repeated what Kat had said earlier to her, “Kat’s shooting to be just good friends with Adena.”

“Yeah, we’ll see what happens, Kat Edison,” Sutton said under her breath so only Jane could hear.

Chapter Text

It was the typical Monday morning rat race in any big city. A large sidewalk filled with expressionless strangers in a hurry to get to their lousy 8-to-5 jobs, just so they could barely make their rent and buy cheap wine on the weekend. It was the middle of summer and the heat didn’t seem to let up.

Kat rushed down the street holding a wheat bagel and coffee she had bought herself for breakfast. She muttered to herself, trying to hail a cab, “Shit, I’m going to be late!” As a cabby finally pulled up to the curb for her, her phone vibrated with an incoming message:

OT3 (Jane):
Hey fresh muffins in break room
Martha’s baking again

Kat:
Sorry T-Jane, I’m in a cab headed for stupid mtg
In E. Harlem
Patrick volunteered me to represent Scarlet
Save me one? No raisins!

Jane:
Ok

Sutton:
Hey, don’t forget Adena starts today

Jane:
Sutton?????!!!!!

Kat:
Guys, it’s ok
I’m turning over a new leaf, starting fresh
Putting myself Numero Uno!

Sutton:
Ok babe, we support it
Happy trails to u

Kat arrived at her meeting just in time. She met with some really nice folks who had decent ideas for creating a new savvy Scarlet website. Patrick had convinced the Board that the current webpage looked tired and outdated, and this up-and-coming tech company put in a bid to be considered for the work. The meeting was going to take up most of the day and Kat was to talk to many of the players in the organization.

As the group went for a break after lunch presentations, Kat decided to briefly call Jane from the bathroom stall with some instructions.

“Hey, I don’t have a lot of time to talk, but can you do me a small favor?

“Yeah Kat, what’s up?”

Go find Adena and tell her I’m sorry I missed her first day. That I wanted to welcome her to the Scarlet family. Will you remember to do that for me, pleazzzz? I’ll owe you, Tiny Jane.”

“No problem. I need to say hello to her, too. See you later today....maybe.”

- - - - -
Kat shook hands and left the tech company’s building at 4:00 PM. She thought if she hopped in a taxi quickly, she might be able to get back to Scarlet before Adena left for the day. She shot Jane a quick text telling her she was on her way back.

Traffic headed south was terrible with accidents and road blocks, so it took her an hour to arrive back at Safford. She paid the cabdriver and sprinted inside, up the escalators to the elevator bay. “Thank god I wore flats today.” She pulled out her phone and started to text Jane, asking if she knew of Adena’s whereabouts. Suddenly, she crashed into someone exiting the arriving elevator car, dropping her phone in the process....”clunk!!!”

“Dang it! Oh gosh, sorry my bad... A-Adena, hey!” Kat said with nervous eyes, as she bent down to retrieve her cellphone off the floor. “I was actually trying to rush upstairs to try and catch you before you left. How was your first day?”

Adena stood there with an equally surprised look on her face. Kat thought she looked as beautiful as ever, dressed in a burgundy hijab and sporting a flowery blazer. Adena replied, “Good, busy, tiring, but good. I’m excited to be inspired and be creative. Jacqueline and Oliver have some really great ideas and visions - - - “ Kat stopped listening to her response and just studied her face, then let her eyes wonder down to her cleavage.

“ - - - They’ll be keeping me very busy.” Adena finished, smirking and quickly looking down to the shiny tile floor. When she looked back at Kat, she caught her staring at her chest.

Kat looked back up and knew she was busted and answered with a mortified look on her face, “Great, great!” Adena let out a small giggle and Kat wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole.

Just then they heard an elevator bing and Kat saw Adena being approached by a tall woman in a gray pant suit.

“Good timing, Adena. Ready to go?” We can share a cab,” the stranger said joyfully.

Kat watched Adena turn towards the red headed woman with a soft smile, “Hi Lilly, yes okay. Hmm, this is Kat Edison my...my, friend from Scarlet.”

Extending her right hand towards Kat to shake, Lilly said, “Hi Kat, I’m Lilly Gomez. I’m also a new employee. I’m working in Legal.”

Kat reached forward and shook her hand. “Nice to meet you, Lilly. I work in the Social Media Department.”

Lilly continued, explaining how she and Adena met in the morning’s HR newhire orientation. Kat observed Lilly’s body language and demeanor while she spoke about Adena, and wasn’t a fan. Especially how Lilly stood too close and nudged Adena’s shoulder, a time or two. ‘This girl’s very touchy-feely for just meeting Adena,’ Kat thought.

Adena giggle and Kat smiled at her, noting Lilly was a slender Latino girl who looked to be no more than 30. With fingernails painted in two different colors and a small rainbow tattoo on the inside of her right wrist, Kat felt more and more threatened by this cool, attractive new employee who’s taken a liking to her Adena.

The final straw was when Lilly touched Adena’s arm or shoulder making her laugh. Kat was jealous, and she knew it, even though she had just thought, ‘Adena is free to date anyone now.’

Kat’s observation of Lilly didn’t go unnoticed by Adena though, who frowned at Kat when their eyes meet. So Kat felt like a school kid who had been caught cheating on a test.

After an awkward moment of silence between the three, Lilly offered, “Hey Kat, Adena and I are headed to a new bar in Brooklyn called ‘Sammi’s’. We are meeting my friends there. Want to join us for a drink?”

Kat was so irritated by now, she let her mouth speak before her head could think, rudely answering, “Well that’s funny, ‘cuz Adena doesn’t drink.” Realizing what she just spewed out, coupled with Adena’s stern look towards her, Kat internally shouted, ‘Oh fuck, Kat!’

Adena quickly reacted in her Adena way to save Lilly’s feelings, “But I would still love to go with you and meet your friends, Lilly. I want to hear about your first day, too.”

“Okay, great,” Lilly replied, looking between Adena and Kat. Kat knew the thick tension between her and Adena could be cut with a knife, and Lilly sensed it.

Kat quickly needed an out, a scapegoat. So she pointed towards Alex and Angie who were standing together by the atrium, oblivious to any of this.“Imma gonna have to take a rain check. I’m actually meeting some friends after work, too.”

“Okay, next time, I guess. Ready Adena?” Kat watched as Lilly put her fingertips back on Adena’s forearm and they both turned to walk away. And now, Kat’s jealousy took over her motor skills too, clutching Adena’s arm to physically stop her from moving.

The look Adena gave Kat said it all. She was flabbergasted, to say the least, by Kat’s antics. She glared at her with open mouth and tilted head, questioning Kat with her eyes. “Well, see you later Adena?” Kat reacted, and quickly let go of Adena’s arm.
Standing helplessly still, she watched both women leave the building together for the night. “Dammit, I’m such an asshole sometimes,” she mumbled quietly under her breath,

- - - - -
Kat got into the first available empty elevator and yelled right when the doors closed, “Aaaaaaah!” She pounded her fist on the lift’s wall and grabbed the top of her head. “Why, why am I so fucking stupid!!!”

Ascending to the 40th floor, Kat quickly found Jane at her desk. “I need to talk to you and Sutton right now,” she said grumpily.

“Sutton actually left already. Something about meeting a plumber at Richard’s about a leaking pipe. But I’m here. What’s up?”

“Can we go someplace private? God I miss our fashion closet!”

Jane pulled Kat by the arm into the empty conference room adjacent to Oliver’s office. “So Kat, what’s got you all tense?”

“Ugghhh! I just bumped into Adena down in the lobby and acted like a complete jerk. Not just in front of her, but in front of some new lawyer chick....who she left with for a drink, no less! Arrrgh!” Kat flared both of her arms up and down.

Jane held her close by both her shoulders, “Kat, it’s ok. This is bound to happen and you need to decide how you’re going to deal with this, If you’re truly going to try and get over Adena.”

“I know, I know!” Kat put her hands behind her neck and locked her fingers together, pacing the room. Jane watched her braids bouncing and flying about as she walked and turned.

“Anyway, Sutton said Lilly...errrr, this lawyer chick...is really nice and she’ll be working with Richard up in Legal. Perhaps this is what Adena needs, too. If Adena meets someone new, then you both can move on with your lives. Then you can be good....friends?”

Kat sat on the edge of the conference table and stared aimlessly at the floor thinking. Jane noticed her shoulders were slumped down and she shook her right leg nervously.

Chapter Text

There was a soft summer’s drizzle coming down, tapping quietly on Kat’s large loft windows. Kat’s nerves were now settled from the earlier, awkward encounter with Adena and Lilly. She was lounging on her couch, calmly sipping on wine in her pajama shorts and tank top.

She sighed, “Crap, I really need to apologize,” and reached for her cellphone that was connected to its charger, tapping out a text to Adena,

KAT:
Hey, you up?

Kat put the phone down and laid her head on the couch armrest, giving Adena time to respond. But a few minutes later became inpatient and sent a second message,

KAT:
Hope you’re still up???

. . .

ADENA:
Yes

Immediately, Kat reacted by hitting ‘Audio’ and voice called Adena’s phone.

Adena answered her phone with just an audible sigh into the receiver. “Sigh!” Kat knew Adena was tired of her shit.

So, Kat instantly started a nervous ramble, “Hey, sorry! Sorry for acting like an irrational buffoon earlier with the new girl Lilly...yeah...Lilly, who you left with earlier from work. She must have thought I was rude. I...I just don’t know why I did that...and...yeah.”

Adena fired back in her stern Adena-voice, “Look Kat, I just met this girl. It was her first day at Scarlet, too. We were stuck in a room together for THREE hours. I don’t know what to tell you. Why are you calling this late?” Yep, Kat was correct, Adena had absolutely NO patience for her bullshit this evening.

So Kat rambled some more “I, I-I don’t know. Uh, just wanted to see if you got home okay. If you need anything. If you needed help with your new place...or...maybe some paperclips for your new work desk?” She joked, hoping she’d lighten the mood. But all Adena did was breath softly into the phone, for what seemed like an eternity to Kat.

“I don’t know what I need, Kat,” Adena answered sounding frustrated.

Kat was panicking a bit, not knowing how to react to that statement. Softly replying, “Oh-kay. Maybe we can grab a cup of coffee or tea at work tomorrow, or some other time?”

To Kat’s surprise, Adena replied, “Ok, maybe. Maybe some time this week.”

“Oh good! Oh well, I will let you go to sleep. I know you’re early to bed when you’re working. See you around Scarlet, Adena.”

“Okay, see you.”

The call ended and Kat sat slumped on her couch. She held her phone briefly, then laid it back on the side coffee table to keep charging. She stood and walked over to her dresser drawer and pulled open the second drawer. Reaching under her pajamas, she took out the framed photograph of her and Adena at the beach in Peru, definitely remembering happier times. “How did we get here?” She spoke feeling mournfully, as a stray tear left her right eye, rolling down her face, and dripping onto her chest. She placed the picture frame back in her drawer and closed it. She turned and headed for the bathroom to brush her teeth and then went to bed, falling asleep quickly from exhaustion.

At 2:30 AM, a loud thumping beat came from the upstairs apartment, rousing Kat to sit up in bed. “What the hell? You’re so inconsiderate playing music so loud and so late!” Kat hollered up at the ceiling. She could hear muffled laughter, too. “They must be having a damn party!” So she flung off the sheets and grabbed her purple terry cloth robe and house keys from the hooks by her door, heading up the one flight of stairs to the neighbors.

Knock!....knock!....knock! Kat pounded on the metal door with the side of her fist. Oddly a kid, no more than 12, opened up. “Hey, where’s your mother, I need to see her,” Kat inquired.

The little girl turned her head and called, “Abuelita, there’s a strange lady here!”

Kat rolled her eyes and waited impatiently for an adult to arrive. A moment later an elderly, tall woman came to the door and the child left. “Hola, can I help you?” The grandma asked in broken English.

By now the loud music had stopped, but Kat still wanted to get her point across. “Yeah, I have to get up for work very early and your loud music woke me.” Kat was now calmer and spoke softer, “So please, I ask that you keep the noise level down after 11 PM.”

“Si, si señorita. I will tell mi daughter-in-law now.” The woman turned her face and called out, “A-dee-nah!”....

Kat awoke from her dream in a cold sweat, alone in her dark apartment.

Chapter Text

“TGIF Women!” Sutton messaged the group chat early from home, and Kat grinned widely. She was already headed out the door earlier than usual, for work, so she could stop at her favorite flower shop. Kat was on a mission to find a nice potted succulent for Adena’s desk. A peace offering, sorta.

She arrived at ‘Petunias’ near Park & 64th, just as the owner was setting up fresh cut flowers outside in buckets. “Good morning, Margolis!”

“Hey Kat girl, how’s it going?”

Margolis was an old friend of hers from NYU who had studied botany and dreamt of one day owning a nursery outside the City.

“Cool, cool,” Kat answered with a smile. “I’m looking for a nice potted plant for the office. Oh, and can I get it wrapped all Margolis-fancy with a yellow bow?”

“Anything for you, dear.”

Kat walked out of the small store happy with her purchase, jumping in a cab to make it to work on time. She had an early meeting with a vendor at Scarlet. Then she planned on taking the plant up to Adena’s office.

Once the vendor left an hour later, Kat used the restroom and then messaged Adena from her desk:

KAT:
Hey, good morning...TGIF!
Want to take a break and grab coffee downstairs?

. . .

ADENA:
Hey, sure. I’ll take the stairs and meet you in front of your elevator

KAT:
No, let me come up to your desk first. I have something for you :)

ADENA:
Okay?

Kat was anxious but quickly grabbed the plant and took the stairs up, walking up to Adena’s desk. “Hi there! This is for you, just a peace offering. I named him Spike. But, you’re free to change his name, Spike won’t mind.” Kat giggled nervously and asked, “Hey, wanna grab coffee downstairs?”

Kat felt Adena’s warm hand touch her on the forearm as she awkwardly smiled. “Thank you, I love it! Just what was missing to brighten my work space.” She placed Spike on her desk and grabbed her wallet, both taking the elevator down to the lobby.

They stood in line at Baristas, the coffee kiosk inside the Safford Building’s attrium, and purchased coffee drinks. Kat, motioned to a couple of upholstered armed chairs nearby and they sat facing each other.

Kat fiddled with her cup and began the conversation with, “Sooo..., how’s your TGIF going? You made it to the end of your first Scarlet workweek.”

Adena nervously smiled and filled Kat in on all the editing she was working on, then asked Kat about her day, specifically about her cosmetics campaign. Kat told Adena about the wonderful ladies she was working with, “I hope to make a social impact through their exposure and outreach.”

“I am so proud of you and your vision. Using cosmetics as a platform to educate the masses on great causes and social issues, affecting women and youth, is brilliant.” Adena gloated and Kat beamed with pride, sensing Adena was genuinely proud of her.

Kat wanted to ask Adena something, but hesitated as her stomach knotted up a bit. But thought, “Fuck it!” and proceeded, “Hey, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Of course, you can ask me anything, you know that,” Adena blinked nervously.

Kat mentioned a group of work friends were going directly to ‘The Pub,’ a popular hangout across town, after work. “It’s a large bar which serves good food, plus there’s karaoke at 8 and dancing after 9.” Adena stared at Kat with those piercing, dark eyes in thought. “Would you like to join us, Adena?” It would be fun and that way you wouldn’t have to cook for yourself tonight.”

Adena thought for a few seconds, “Okay, that does sound fun. I’d like that.”

Kat smiled with surprise and delight, wiping her clammy hands on her thighs. “Great, it’s a date! I...I mean, oh sweet!” Kat saw Adena bowing her head and smiling.

The two girls threw away their trash and headed back upstairs. “Okay I’ll see you around 6:30 in the 34th floor lobby, by my elevators. We’ll share cabs with the group to the bar.”

- - - - -
At 7 PM, the Scarlet gang arrived at the loud, crowded bar. Sage’s fiancé Donald had arrived earlier and secured three small tables together near the karaoke stage, in the back room for the group. They sat and ordered drinks and different appetizers to share.

“You’re right Kat, this is a fun place. I’ve never been here before.”

“Well, doesn’t surprise me. You’ve never been much of a bar person.” Adena gave Kat a funny look. “What?” Kat asked smiling.

Adena nodded her head and asked where the ladies room was, leaving the table momentarily.

“So, you gonna get lucky with Adena tonight?!” A drunk Sutton yelled across the tables at Kat, capturing the attention of all of their friends.

“What! Sutton, please she’ll hear you! No, I didn’t ask her here for that,” Kat looked towards Jane for aid, but Jane was preoccupied with her own alcohol and Pinstripes neck.

“Like hell you didn’t. I see the way you both look at each other, I’m not estupido!”

“Please Sutton, keep your mouth shut!”

“Why you getting all defensive. You know, if you wait too long a beauty like Adena is gonna get snatched up pronto. Hint, hint Lilly Go-Mez!”

Richard was the one that came to Kat’s rescue taking Sutton gently by the hand to the crowded dance floor. So, when Adena returned Kat hid her anger towards Sutton and everyone else in their group acted like nothing happened.

The DJ was cranking out the 80’s and 90’s hits, and Angie yelled, “Let’s dance, I love Madonna!”

The whole table stood up, including Kat, and joined Suttard, as they were referred to by their friends when they’re together, on the dance floor. Jane and Sage pulled Adena by the arms and forced her to dance, too. Kat was secretly glad Adena was dancing close to her now. When slow songs came on, Kat suggested they’d sit down to catch their breath. Adena agreed.

“Imma gonna use the bath...room and grab more drinks. You...good?” Kat asked Adena, who was beginning to notice Kat was very tipsy.

“I’m good, thanks.”

Kat staggered away and turned back to look at Adena from a distance. “Damn, she’s so fucking hot!” she mumbled.

- - - - -
By 11:30 PM Adena felt everyone except she, Donald, and Richard were drunk and acting juvenile. “Let’s fucking go home and smash, y’all,” Sutton yelled out as she wrapped her arms around Richard’s neck and laughed. Kat was staring at Adena with glassy eyes and a stupid smirk.

“You know who I’d like to smash with tonight?” Kat slurred-whispered into Jane’s ear.

“Adena?!” Jane shouted.

“Huh?” Adena turned her head and responded, thinking Jane was asking her a question.

“Shhhhhhh-!” Kat hushed, putting her hand over Jane’s mouth. “Gross, you licked my hand!” Kat shouted and Jane laughed hysterically. Adena rolled her eyes at their antics.

The group decided to head home and broke up into pairs outside, to share cabs. Kat suddenly shouted, “Oh no, guys.... Is the parking lot spinning? Imma gonna fall! Catch me Alex!” But Alex was busy steadying himself on Angie. So Kat held on to the back of a stranger’s pickup truck, instead.

Adena shook her head in frustration and offered, “Okay Kat, I’ll make sure you don’t fall and get you home safe.” They shared a cab with Alex and Angie and got dropped off last.

Kat had used the cab ride opportunity to lay her head on Adena’s shoulder. “You smell so, so damn good,” she managed to slur out. Adena just answered, “Okay.”

Arriving in front of her address, Kat saw Adena was busy discussing something with the cabbie about waiting for her return. So she managed to pull herself out of the vehicle by herself, onto the sidewalk. Her legs were very wobbly but she moved forward to the building’s lobby door that a stranger was holding open for her. “Kat, here! You forgot your purse inside the backseat,” Adena called out.

Inside the building, Kat staggered up the stairwell, occasionally tripping on steps....”Crap Deena, these steps keep moving on me.” But she managed to reach her apartment door in one piece.

Kat dug through her purse but couldn’t find her keys. “Sorry D, I didn’t mean to leave my keys at work,” she said. But somehow Adena had them and opened her door. “Oh wow, you still have keys to my place?”

“Is okay, Kat. I found it for you. Come, let’s get your shoes off, faced washed, and you can lie down for the night.” Adena said pushing her through the front door, trying to get Kat settled so she can head home quickly.

Kat now realized she really had to pee, so she proceeded to shuffle towards her bathroom after dropping her purse and blazer on the floor by the door.

In the bathroom, Kat plopped on the toilet and held on to the wall and bathtub for support. She flushed and washed her face, rinsing her mouth out with Scope, drying her face on a washcloth as she walked back out towards the bed. “Fuck that chair!” Kat yelled in anger, having caught her foot on a kitchen chair, falling, and hitting her head on the wooden floor.

Adena helped her back up and sat her on the edge of the bed, trying not to laugh. Kat heard Adena say something like, “...a minor red bump swelling on your head...” Kat just watched her from the bed as she spoke, trying to imagine what Adena looked like naked. She was about to ask Adena to take off all her clothes, when Adena stepped back quickly and gave her some orders.

“Here Kat, let me get you some ice for that bump and a big glass of water and some aspirin. Take off your shoes and lie down.” Adena turned towards the kitchen and Kat took that opportunity to take off her shoes, jeans, and top, laying on top of the duvet in her red lacy bralette and matching panties. Kat felt dizzy but was also horny.

After that, all Kat remembered were three things: 1. The cold bag of ice on her forehead...., “Ouch, this feels cold and my head hurts!” 2. Asking Adena to stay...., “Dena, will you stay here tonight?” 3. Closing her eyes for just a minute...., “Imma not ignoring you, just need to rest my eyes a sec.”

The next time Kat opened her eyes, it was after 1 PM on Saturday.

- - - - -
Kat woke with what she felt was Exedrin headache #9. Holding her head, she found her cellphone in the pocket of her jeans on the floor, with only 12% battery life. There were no messages from Jane, Sutton, nor Adena. Just one from her mom, checking in on her, and one from Sage, a simple, “Cute” with an attached picture of her and Adena dancing side-by-side on the pub’s dance floor.

Sauntering over to her bathroom, she emptied her bladder and tied her braids back and into a high bun. She washed up and brushed her teeth. To her surprise, as she headed over to her coffee machine, she found a large post-it note on top of her kitchen table:

~~~~~~
“Kat,

In case you don’t remember, I had a really good time dancing and laughing with you and your friends. Thank you again for including me.

~ Adena

P.S. There’s a big glass of water and aspirin with your name on it on your nightstand.”
~~~~~

Kat smiled and looked over towards her nightstand. She may not have remembered much from the previous night, but she did remember Adena’s perfume smelled really, really good.

Chapter Text

“Remind us again, Sutton, why we get our asses out of bed so early on Sundays to sweat and hurt?” Kat inquired as she was sandwiched between Sutton and Jane, jogging through Central Park.

“Well, for obvious reasons. It’s good for the heart and the soul.”

“And, our tummies afterwards,” Jane added.

“Yes, that’s why I named it, ‘Sunday, BrunDay’...cuz we run and brunch...get it?”

“Ah, yes Sutton, very clever of you. Although shouldn’t it be run-brun day, cuz we first run?” Kat laughed.

The three had been doing the BrunDay ritual for over four months now, as a pact they made to get more fit and de-stressed.

“So, Adena took you home...undressed you...and put you to bed...on Friday night? Sutton huffed and puffed at Kat.

“Something like that...I can’t recall.” Kat panted back.

Sutton followed up with, “You think she took advantage of your drunkenness and groped you?”

Jane laughed, “She wishes! Though, too bad Kat was too inebriated to feel it, if she did. God knows what Adena could have done to her and gotten away with.”

“Nothing she’s never done to me before, Tiny Jane.” Kat said smugly turning her head towards Jane then Sutton.

The three stopped jogging when they reached the large fountain at the southern end of the park, walking the remaining four blocks to the restaurant as a cool down.

- - - - -
“Welcome to ‘Park Skillet’ ladies. I’m Rosy, your waitress this morning. Here are menus and the specials are on that big blackboard. Can I start you off with some drinks?”

“Three Mimosas por favor, Sutton ordered, holding three fingers up.”

“And three waters, please,” Jane added.

“Sutton, your Spanish is getting muy bueno,” Kat commented. “You still planning on going to Madrid next year with Dick?”

“Si, with Richard and dick,” the blonde quipped, making her two friends giggle like 13 year-olds.

The girls perused the brunch menus as they discussed their families, love lives, and fashion. “So, did I tell you Patrick went over Jacqueline’s head to give me a new assignment on - -“

Kat smacked her open palm on the table, and cut Jane off, “No, no, no! No work talk, remember.”

“Absolutely not! That’s the sacred Sunday BrunDay Code, remember Jane? No talkie-of-workie,” Sutton added.

“But you guys were just talking about Lauren and Oliver arguing.... what’s the difference?”

“That’s gossip, babe.”

“Yeah, Kat’s right. Gossip is different and allowed.”

The waitress came back with the drinks and the girls each ordered veggie omelettes. “ Please make mine egg-whites only,” Kat requested.

“You scare me sometimes, you know.”

“Sorry Sutton, Adena got me hooked and now it’s habit. Plus it’s good for me.”

Jane smiled and agreed, “For sure.”

“You sure you guys weren’t secretly married?”

Kat rolled her eyes at Sutton. Then said, “Guys, I hope I didn’t make too much of a drunk fool out of myself on Friday night.”

“Oh Kat, we were all too drunk to care,” Jane waved her hand by her face.

Kat lifted her mason jar and took a sip of water. “But Adena wasn’t...too drunk to care.”

“Ah-bout thaaat.... I don’t get how the girl has never craved an alcoholic beverage, Kat. Especially being around you so long and tasting the stuff on your lips.” Sutton twisted her face in wonder.

“Religious convictions.” Kat noted.

“Hmmm? Well, If she’s still talking to you on Monday, then she’s okay with your drunken clownery. Plus you said she left you a nice note on the kitchen table.... Oh man, how I would have loved to be there seeing you passed out, in your sexy undies, with an ice bag on your head. You know Jane and I would have taken a selfie with you for our feed, right Jane?” Sutton laughed so hard she snorted.

“What are friends for,” Jane replied.

Kat rolled her eyes and said, “Let’s toast to good friendships and Sunday BrunDay together!” Sutton raised her glass first and the other two followed her lead, taking a generous sip of their Mimosas.

“So tell us Kat, how are your parents doing?”

“They’re fine Jane, they’re coming down to see me next weekend.”

“Did you tell them I really liked their bday care package? That was so thoughtful.”

“Yes I did. Mom said you are always so sweet and lovely. I think she has you confused with another person,” Kat teased and Jane smacked her arm.

“I still have to write them a thank-you note.”

The waitress came by with their three meals. “There you are ladies. Tabasco and ketchup are on the table. Enjoy!”

“Is your mom still asking about you and Adena?” Sutton asked, taking a bite of her omelette.

“Yes...sigh!” Ever since the election party when they spoke, Mom’s been nagging me about our relationship status. Why are parentals like that?”

“Uh, maybe it’s because she cares about you and Adena and she knows how good Adena was for you.... Well, before the Paris breakup.” Jane said, covering her mouth full of food.

“Yeah, Jane’s right. Doctor Susan knows what’s best for her baby kitten.”

“Isn’t that redundant? Baby and kitten, Sutton?”

“Whatever Jane! Kitten knows what I mean....meow?”

Kat laughed at their escapades, adding, “Not to change the subject, but the paternals are getting a hot tub for the Hampton homestead.”

“When?” Sutton and Jane said in unison...”Jinx!”

“Soon, I hope. They’ve already picked it out and it’s getting installed in the near future.”

“Oooh, we should break it in....like soon, before it’s too cold....like on a girls’ weekend!” Sutton suggested.

“Unless Kat wants to break it in with a lady friend, first?” Jane looked over her glass of Mimosa towards Kat to see her reaction.

“Or, with Adena El-hotty-Amin,” Sutton added.

The waitress came by and checked on them, dropping off the bill. “I’ll be your cashier when you’re done.”

“Nah, the only lady friends I’m going to take up there soon, are you two beaches.”

Sutton held up her almost finished beverage, “I’ll drink a Mimosa or two in the Hamptons to that!” And the three cheered in unison, “Heck Yeah!”

- - - - -
Back at Kat’s place, the girls were crashed out on the couch watching an episode of GOT. “I can’t believe you still haven’t finished the series, Kat. I’m tired of not spoiling it for you when we talk about it,” Jane complained.

“Well, I can catch up now after work, since I’m single and alone.” Kat pouted.

“Kat, it’s okay to date again. In fact, it’s healthy. Nothing wrong with seeing new women.” Jane was concerned for her friend and made the suggestion to re-activate her Tinder account.

“Or new men, right? Aren’t you bi-sexual? Would you see and hook up with guys again?”

“To tell you the truth, I haven’t thought about guys in a while. I’m just going to stay celibate for now.”

Sutton sat up and put her arm around Kat’s shoulders, “Don’t tell me that when you’re lying in bed, late at night, with some wine in ya....you don’t wish there was a naked lady next to you.”

“That’s what my trusty $100 Magic Wand is for, Sutton. Never disappoints. And....it doesn’t require talking, drama, nor dinner. Ha!” Kat chuckled.

“Okay, but it also doesn’t whisper sweet nothings in your ear, nor breaths softly into your neck with pleasure, nor....have magical lips that - -“

“Okay Sutton, we get it...TMI!” Jane interrupted. “Kat, dear, maybe you should talk to your Mom about this.”

“Aaaah, that’s a hard no for me, dawg. I don’t want to get my parentals involved in my love life, Jane.”

“Yeah, I hear you, but she’s a marriage counselor. She’d give you good relationship advice or get you some other counselor who would. Why don’t you try it out?” Jane asked.

Kat stood up and went to make more popcorn, ignoring the question. Therapist and therapy always made Kat very uncomfortable.

“Hey, speaking of vibrators, I need to go to the ‘Pink Pussycat’ before Saturday to buy some marital aids. My cousin Judy is getting married next month and they’re throwing her a shower next Saturday afternoon in Jersey. So can you guys go with me after work Friday?”

“Can’t dude, I’m meeting my parents for early dinner then.”

“I’ll go. I want to see what new items they have. Ryan wants me to buy a whip.” Jane covered her mouth and giggled.

- - - - -
“So that’s the note Adena left you on Friday night, after she powdered your bum and put you to sleep?”

“Ha, ha, Sutton!.... Yes.”

“It must be important cuz you kept it and put it up on your kitchen cork board.”

Kat didn’t reply but yawned instead. They had finished watching three episodes of GOT, and everyone was tired from the long morning jog.

“Sutton it’s late, let’s go and leave Kat alone. We’ve harassed her about her love life enough today.”

“Thanks Jane. Well, I’ll see you both tomorrow at work.” Kat opened the front door and her friends left. She went over to Adena’s note and took it down, throwing it away in the kitchen garbage. But she quickly retrieved it before it got soiled, walking it over to her dresser and putting it in her lingerie drawer, underneath her bras.

Chapter Text

Kat’s parents were visiting from New Canaan, Connecticut. They had come down on Thursday night for an awards presentation on Friday afternoon, for a colleague of Marcus’s. They were staying at the Marriott Marquee in Time Square and Kat was meeting them for dinner after she got off of work. Their rendezvous location was the lobby of the hotel.

“There she is, there she is!” Marcus announced as Kat walked in through the revolving brass doors of the lobby, with open arms for her parents.

“Hi Mom.... Dad!” Kat hurried towards both her parents for a warm embrace.

“Hi baby, you look beautiful as always. The City is treating you so well,” Susan said, giving Kat another big hug.

The three caught a cab outside and were soon sitting in a newly opened Japanese restaurant, Rakkīgāru, that was highly rated by Marcus’s colleagues.

“Order whatever you guys like, the sky’s the limit,” Marcus said to his girls.

“In that case Dad, I’m ordering the Robusutā to kani?....I’m probably murdering that pronunciation.” Kat chuckled quietly.

Susan donned on her readers and began to study the menu. “Mmmmm, it sounds good. Maybe I’ll order that, too, and Marcus can help me finish it....yes dear?”

Marcus opened up his eyes wide and blew a puff of air through closed lips. “Your mother always wants me to finish her meals. This is why I need to lose weight. Dear, just order whatever you want and eat what you can. No worries.”

“But it’s too good to waste, Marcus. You sure you wouldn’t help me finish it?” Marcus shrugged his shoulders at Susan. “Well then, I’ll just order the lobster soup, instead.”

Kat did a face slap and both of her parents laughed. “Oh man, I don’t know about marriage....too much back and forth...share, not share...geez! It’s so much easier being single and free.”

“Oh honey, but it’s a wonderful thing when you find your soulmate,” Susan reached for her husband’s hand to hold.

The waitress approached the table, “Good evening, I am Yoshi. I have some waters for you here. Are you ready to order?” Kat admired the woman’s beautiful emerald colored kimono.

“Yes, we are ready!” Kat began pointing at the menu, “ I’ll have the Rahboo....Rowboohsue - -“ Kat wished she had made more of an effort to learn some Japanese when she visited the country with her anime class in high school.

“Robusutā to kani? Yes, the lobster and crabs, wonderful choice, Miss. And for you, Madam?”

“Is that a really big meal,” Susan asked.

“No Madam, it is a normal, Japanese-size portion. Just perfect for us ladies,” the Asian waitress explained.

Susan smiled, “Oh, good. Then, I’ll have the Robusutābisuku....the Lobster Bisque.” Kat thought that was typical of her mom, making the lady explain a dish to her then ordering something completely different.

The waitress nodded and finished taking Marcus’s order. “Any saké for you to drink tonight?”

“Sure, I’ll have some. Susan and Kat? Any for you?” Marcus pointed at his two girls.

“No, none for me thank you!” Kat replied, knowing saké, the Japanese rice wine, had like 20% alcohol content, versus the 9% her wine usually had. Kat didn’t drink copiously around her parents, afraid she’d divulge too much personal information in her tipsy state.

“I’ll have a glass of red wine, please,” Susan ordered.

“Okay, a pink for me,” Kat added.

The waitress jotted it all down and left with their orders. Ten minutes later, the Edison’s were enjoying their meals and beverages.

- - - - -
The restaurant’s atmosphere was very pleasant and Kat was very relaxed.

“So dear, how has work been?”

“Oh Dad, you know work is work. My new supervisor, Patrick, is a bit of a pompous dude. But I can handle him better than Jane can.” Kat snickered while picking at her lobster.

“Oh, poor sweet Jane.” Susan chuckled. “And how are sweet Jane and lovely Sutton?”

Kat put down her fork and reached for her wine glass. “Sweet and Lovely are very well, thank you. They send a hug and a big hello to you both.”

“Mmm-hmmm. And how is beautiful Adena doing?” Susan looked up from her meal to observe Kat’s body language.

Kat put down her wine glass and cleared her throat. “She’s fine....she’s good.”

Marcus glanced over at Susan and followed up with, “Has she started working at Scarlet, yet?”

“Yes, yes. She started two weeks ago.” Both therapists noted Kat had stopped eating and seemed uncomfortable.

“Is that a good or bad thing?” Marcus cocked his head to the side and waited for Kat’s response.

“Uhmmmm?” Kat moved her fork in a circular pattern through her rice.

Susan tried to clarify the question. “What Dad’s asking is, how do you feel about it?”

“Uhhh....Mom, Dad, do we really have to talk about Adena at this time? We’re having such a relaxing time and now you bring her up....and, and - -“

“Dear, we can talk about whatever you wish to talk about, no problem,” mom said, patting the top of her daughter’s hand. Kat looked over her Dad’s shoulder at the large koi fish tank by the establishment’s bar.

“Ah, yes sweetheart. We don’t want to stress you. But Adena is a part of your young adulthood stage in life, where you’re still trying to capture your identity as a level of psychosocial maturation focused on the psychological task of - -“

“Marcus!” Susan abruptly interrupted seeing Kat shimmy nervously in her seat, head and eyes pointed downward.

Marcus scrunched his face towards Susan and took a hefty bite of his grilled salmon, ending his therapist’s dissertation.

“Baby, Dad and I just want you to be happy. That’s all.” Susan gently stroked Kat’s braids.

Kat looked up with red, wet eyes and shook her head. “I know, Mom.”

Although it had been seven months, and Kat had seen Tia in between, Susan knew her daughter was still hurting inside from the breakup with Adena. She’d never admit it, but she would go into Kat’s social media regularly to see what she was up to. Especially into Kat’s personal feeds where she could see that, on some days, Kat wasn’t fairing too well in regards to her lovelife and emotional turmoil. Turmoil that involved Adena, most likely. She knew if Kat found out about her spying, she’d be furious, call her a stalker, and block her out of her stuff.

“Excuse me, I have to go blow my nose in the restroom. Be right back.” Kat dropped her napkin by her plate and got up, momentarily leaving the table.

“Sure, baby.” Marcus sighed and watched as Kat walked to the back of the restaurant. “Boy, parenting sure was easier when you used to be able to sneak into her room and read her diary, Susan. At least we knew what was going on in her head.”

Susan huffed, “I never told you I looked through her diary, Marcus! You sure that wasn’t you, instead?”

“Oh heavens no, a father would never want to read his teenager daughter’s diary....I would not like to find out many things that teenage girls do....lord no!”

“Oh, and as if teenage boys are angels?”

“I never said boys are angels, but daughters worry fathers more, dear.”

- - - - -
In the ladies room, Kat locked herself in a stall and texted her group chat to vent.

Kat/Jane/Sutton (KAT):
Aaaargh
Parentals asking too many questions...ADENA!

. . .

SUTTON:
Oh babe, hang in there!
We luv you!

. . .

JANE:
You got this babe.
It’s only two days then you can go back to ignoring their texts

KAT:
*sigh*

SUTTON:
Want us to call you with a work emergency

JANE:
They’ll see right thru that, Sutton!
They have PhD’s

SUTTON:
Worth a try

KAT:
Jane’s right, but thx!
I’ll survive
I just almost lost it in front of them when they said ‘Adena’

JANE:
Oh babe!
Maybe you should ask your mom for the name of someone you can talk to.
A peer she trusts...?

KAT:
I don’t know
I’m pro-therapy for others but not for me

SUTTON:
Maybe just give it a try?

JANE:
Yeah, 1 of 2 sessions?
It might really help, Kat

KAT:
*sigh*
Well gotta go back
I’m hiding in ladies rm

SUTTON:
Hang in there, baby kitty

KAT:
Bye...
SWEET
&
LOVELY

JANE:
???

KAT:
I’ll explain another day

Kat blew her nose and came out of the stall to wash her hands. She heard the frosted glass door to the room squeak open. Susan walked in.

“Hey baby, I have to use the bathroom, too. Wine goes right through me,” she laughed.

Kat waited for her mom to finish in the bathroom and wash her hands. “Mom, I’m sorry to get upset and not want to talk about Adena with you guys. It’s just still too fresh for me....the breakup....her return to the City....working for Scarlet....it’s just too much.”

Susan saw the pain in Kat’s eyes and heard it in her voice, so she gave her a big mom-hug. “I understand dear.”

“Mom....uhm, do you think there’s someone I can talk to....someone young and queer that could help me cope?”

Susan couldn’t believe her ears. Kat was actually opening up and reaching out to her for help finding a therapist. “Yes, I know just the person for you, honey. She’s a younger therapist I’ve referred some of my millennial patients to. Her name is Tiffany May. She’s early 30’s, bi-racial, and married to the assistant woman’s soccer coach for NYU. You have a lot in common. I’m going to forward the information via text when we return to the table.”

Kat paused for a moment, wiping her eyes while looking in the mirror, answering. “I won’t make any promises of when, or even if, I contact her. But I want to have her info anyways....just in case.”

“I understand baby, and you are 26 so you can make that decision when and if you’re ready. But, I feel she will be really good for you with the Adena matter, especially.”

Kat planted a big kiss on her mom’s cheek. “Thanks, Mommy. I love you so much!”

“I love you more than you know, Kat.”

- - - - -
Waiting for a ride outside the restaurant, the three stood linking arms, with Kat in the middle.

“Late Saturday morning, Dad’s going to the driving range at Chelsea Piers with his college friends. We should go shopping, dear. I’m meeting Kesia for lunch at 1 PM and I’m sure she’d love to see you again.” Marcus nodded as Susan spoke.

Kesia Adeleke was Susan’s good friend from college. They met when they were 18 in a Psychology class and later were roommates for two years. Kesia was also one of the top OB/GYN doctors in New York City, and Kat was one of her patients. Her husband Mosi was very good friends with Marcus, too. And the two couples had gone on cruises together in the past.

“Sure, that sounds fun, Mom. Do you just want to meet at my loft at 10-ish tomorrow?”

“Yes, I’ll be there with bells on, dear.”

Chapter Text

Buzz!.... The jarring sound resonated off the walls of the large loft, signaling a visitor had arrived. Kat quickly ran to the intercom system to push the black button which released the lobby’s front door latch. It was 10 AM on Saturday morning, and Susan was heading upstairs to get Kat for a day’s shopping trip, as planned the night prior.

Kat heard a knocking and soon her and Mom were hugging at the doorway. “Come in, Mom. I’m almost done. Just have to put away the milk and cereal bowl and we can head out.”

“Your place always looks so neat and clean. Have I mentioned how much I love that about my daughter?”

“Uhhh....yes, I think since I was like nine.” Kat held up her hand and Susan high-fived it. “Like mother, like daughter in the neurotic-cleaning-department, am I right?”

Both women had a good laugh and they were out the door, walking towards the metro station six blocks away. “It’s such a beautiful summer morning, so let’s walk. I need steps on my Fitbit, sweetheart.”

- - - - -
It was just past 12 noon and the two Edison women each held three shopping bags in their arms. “Have I told you how much I miss our shopping sprees together, dear?”

“I love the new bathing suit you bought. It’s perfect for the Hamptons. Dad will love the color.”

“Oh, I don’t know about Dad loving the color, but he’ll like that I’m still wearing suits in public. A lot of women my age only wear shorts and tops, or moo moos to the beach.”

“Oh no, I’ve seen some ladies your age or older in bikinis at the beach and pool. It’s all about what’s in your head, Mom.”

“Yes, or how you get to an age where you don’t give a damn what people think.” The two women laughed aloud. “Hey, let’s take a load off and go sit on that bench by the restaurant. It’s a nice shady spot and we can see when Kesia arrives in front of our rendezvous spot.”

The mother and daughter talked and laughed a lot until they were blue on the face. Kesia arrived a few minutes after one o’clock and the women hugged and went inside the establishment to eat.

“Oh Kes, it’s so good to see you,” Susan said. “You’ve lost some weight....looking good girl!”

“Thanks Susan, Ive been going to the gym with my older sister Lady after work. We go four times per week and this gorgeous male trainer is kicking our asses! But his beauty motivates us to workout,” Kesia burst out laughing. “I think he may be gay, but we don’t care. He’s eye-candy for us middle-aged ladies. You and Miss Kat look wonderful, too.”

“You were always a charmer, babe. Actually, I think Kat’s too skinny and needs to eat more.” Susan looked at Kat, and she frowned back at her mother.

“Mom!” Kat complained.

“Oh Kat, you know us mothers have the right to get after our kids for whatever we feel should be said. And how have you been? Work and life treating you well?

“Yes great, Kesia, for the most part.”

The three women spent the next hour eating, talking about their families, female issues, and current events, and looking at pictures on cellphones. Kat helped both Susan and Kesia create folders in their smartphones to organize the photos better.

“Your grandbabies are adorable!” Susan exclaimed. “Did you see their beautiful curly hair, Kat?”

“Yes, truly models in the making, tee-hee! How old are they now?”

“Jasmine is four, Aurora’s two, and Theo is seven months old. Theo is Gavin’s son. The little beauties are Bette’s kids.”

Susan placed her hand on her friend’s forearm. “I can’t believe you and Mosi are grandparents, now. And, little Bette and Gavin are both married, each with a family of their own. Oh, where has time gone?”Susan and Kesia both looked up at Kat when Susan finished speaking. Kat just shrugged her shoulders.

“Miss Kat, are you still single?”

“Yes, single as a Pringle.” Kat joked, taking the last bite of her pita.

“The reason I ask dear, is my nephew Karter is back in town. He got hired by NYCTV, that independent station on channel 25? He is their digital programming coordinator.”

“Sounds fancy,” Kat noted.

“Yes! Well, he’s single and very handsome I might add. I mentioned your name to him the other day, and he said he remembered you from college and family get-togethers when you were all kids. Maybe you two should go out some time? I can give you his contact info.”

“Oh, okay. We haven’t spoken in like four years, but sure.”

“That would be nice,” Susan added.

Kat and Karter became close playing intramural volleyball her frosh and his sophomore year at NYU, and became real close. Both worked the WNYU Student Radio Station along with their third friend, Paul Attie, when Kat was a Junior. Although Karter was mostly Kat’s drinking buddy, they did have a make-out session sometime during college. Nothing came of it, just one of those events that happen after too much alcohol in a hammock, at a Sorority party.

- - - - -
The plates were empty and stomachs were full, so the women gathered their bags and paid the cashier at the front of the Greek diner.

“Okay well, it was wonderful seeing you lovely ladies, again. I gotta go babysit for Gavin and his wife, now. It’s their three year anniversary and he has all kinds of romantic things planned for Gretchen tonight.”

The three friends hugged outside the restaurant and parted ways. Susan and Kat headed back to Kat’s loft in a cab, as their feet were beginning to hurt too much to walk long distances.

Before Susan left, sitting together on the couch, she had another heart-to-heart with her daughter about relationships. “I’m happy to hear you may look up Karter. You know, it’ll be good for you to continue meeting and dating other people. Will help you get over Adena, hun.”

Kat’s expression got very serious as she looked deeply into Susan’s eyes. “Mom, I don’t know if I want that....to get over Adena. Yes, we broke up seven months ago, but we were....intimate four weeks ago. It was right after I lost the election, after Tia and I had a good talk. I told Tia I still had feelings for Adena and, since her and I really were only seeing each other and not officially dating, Tia said it was okay to go figure it out. So, I showed up at Adena’s and....one thing led to another...and - -“ Kat looked downwards and Susan took her hands.

“It’s okay, Kat. It’s okay. Obviously there are still very strong romantic feelings there for you. For both of you, or Adena wouldn’t have allowed that intimacy to happen again.”

“That night, she told me she never stopped loving me, and I froze. Like an idiot....I froze. I saw the hurt in her eyes when it happened.” A stray tear now rolled down Kat’s cheek and she wiped it off.

Susan paused for a minute and let Kat regain her composure before questioning her. “Okay. Well, did you not reciprocate because you don’t feel the same way anymore?”

“No, I still love her so much it hurts. I can’t stop thinking and dreaming about her. But....I’m scared....I’m scared she will leave me again. I was so very hurt and confused when she left me in Paris, Mom. I had some really dark days in this apartment when I came back from my trip. I didn’t know who that woman looking back at me in the mirror was.” Kat shook her head. “Thank goodness for my job and my two besties, Jane and Sutton, that got me through those treacherous months.” Kat scooted closer and laid her head on her mother’s shoulder. More tears spilling out. “I’m sorry I never reached out to you guys. I felt like a failure and didn’t want you to worry.”

“Baby girl, nothing you do could ever make Dad and I feel like you’ve failed us.” Susan wrapped one arm around Kat’s waist and stroked her face with her free hand. “These feelings and worries you’re having are normal. Psychological shock is a very REAL condition triggered by heartbreak. It’s a trauma that causes anxiety, fear, appetite changes, lack of motivation....all the things you have gone through and are still feeling.”

Kat sighed, closing her eyes. “I have good days and bad days, Mommy. I was dreading seeing Adena at work, but it’s kinda been okay. Well, except for my irrational jealousy that springs up on occasion when she’s with a new girl at work. But I’m trying to get better with it.”

“Kat, you don’t have to call this Karter boy if you don’t want to. Don’t do it because you think Kesia, or I, or Dad, or anyone else expects it. You do what you feel is right for you, okay?”

Kat sat up straight and dried her face on her sleeves. “I know, Mom. But I think it would be good for me to see him. We had a lot of fun in college together, and he’d be a fun guy-friend to hang with in the City.”

Susan smiled at her daughter proud of her maturity. “Sounds like a good plan. And, I also think talking to Dr. May about all of this will do you well, dear. So please make an appointment with Tiffany, soon. You won’t regret it.

“Okay, I promise I will.”

Chapter Text

Kat’s parents returned to Connecticut and it was back to work on Monday morning. As promised, Kat called Dr. Tiffany, as she liked her patients to address her, and got an appointment to start seeing her in two weeks. She also texted Karter. They made an after work date to grab a drink on Wednesday night, at a bar in SoHo.

“So this guy you’re seeing Wednesday night is an old college friend?”

“Yes Sutton, he is my Big Brother from my sorority days at NYU. We mostly partied a lot....it’s kinda a blur, but we also had fun doing intramural volleyball after school. Here’s a photo of him from his work internet page. He works for a public radio station.”

“Whoa! Stop the presses! He is friggin’ gorgeous, Kat!”

Jane had just walked into the break room and overheard part of the conversation. “I want to see. Whoa is right, Sutton!”

“Did you guys ever smash in college?”

“No Sutton. No, we did not....do that, ever.” Kat left out the part about their make-out session in the sorority hammock.

Jane followed up with, “Do you want to if he offered?” Both Sutton and Jane we’re now waiting patiently for Kat’s response.

“Uhh, I don’t think so. Karter and I are like siblings. He wasn’t my type then and I don’t think he’s my type now.... I’m really into girls. They are so much softer, more caring, and definitely more giving in bed.”

“Well, I wouldn’t know all that, but you go with what you feel and see what comes of it, Kat.”

- - - - -
Wednesday night Kat walked into the bar and there was Karter Adams, and all his hunkyness , waiting for her on a stool.

“Well hello, Kat. Long time no see.” Karter stood up and they hugged. Kat had forgotten he was 6’4” and towered over her.

“Hey Karter, it’s so nice to see you again. Please, sit and I’ll join you here.”

“Bartender, a drink for the lady please.” Karter raised his hand and pointed down at Kat.

“A glass of Rosé for me, thank you.”

“You’re looking very nice yourself, Kat. All grown up and all.” Kat was wearing her black low-cut leather top and skinny jeans, and her braids were down. She could tell Karter had trouble looking away from her chest, making her smirk.

The two got through the obligatory small-talk about jobs, family, etc., then reminisced about college, Greek life, and their fun job at the WNYU Radio Station when they were younger.

“Weren’t you and Attie a thing once?” Karter asked. Kat said no, only close friends, figuring Karter didn’t know about their pregnancy scare. Kat wasn’t willing to divulge that information if it wasn’t necessary. She also mentioned how she and Paul lost touch after graduation.

“Well, Attie got married two years ago and his wife’s expecting a boy. Here, I have a photo of them when I was a groomsman at their wedding in Houston. I think his wife looks like you a bit, Kat.”

Kat took Karter’s phone and looked closely at the picture. “Oh, I don’t see it..... They live in Texas?”

“Used to, now they live in L.A. where he’s running a public radio station. I saw him last year at a broadcasting convention in Seattle, but Attie’s become boring in his married ways. I hear marriage does that to people.”

“So....you don’t want to ever get married at the risk you’d become boring?”

“Ha! I didn’t say ‘ever’ just not for the next 10 years or so. I want to have a lot of fun, travel, meet a lot of gorgeous women...” Karter smiled and gave Kat the once-over, then took a drink of his martini. “And, you?”

Kat looked over at her wine glass. “No, no one in my life currently.”

“Didn’t think so, or else you wouldn’t be here, meeting an old Greek life friend in a bar.” Karter chuckled and ordered them another round of drinks.

An hour later Kat suggested they’d go for a walk and get some fresh air. She was feeling a bit dizzy from two glasses of wine and a pear martini.

As the two strolled through a quaint neighborhood, Karter made a suggestion. “So listen, I have an apartment a few blocks from here. Why don’t we head over there and I pull out the old Kappa Sigma yearbook? I’m pretty sure you’re in some of those party photos.” Kat turned her head and smiled at Karter. “Remember the time campus police came and kicked all of you girls out so we, as they put it, ‘animals’ could settle down?”

Kat nodded and giggled, adding, “Those were crazy times! I only remember two-thirds of them.”

“Sooo?.... My apartment?” Karter stopped in front of Kat and waited for her response.

“Okay, but only for an hour. It’s a work night, you know.”

- - - - -
Karter unlocked his studio apartment door, “Entrevue,” letting Kat go inside first.

“Merci beaucoup,” Kat replied.

His place was smallish, with a leather loveseat and exercise ball-chair in the living area, a weight set in the corner, and a queen sized bed behind a small partition. He also had a 60” flatscreen television hanging from the wall in front of the couch, way too big for the place. Kat thought, ‘This is a typical guy’s apartment.’

“So, can I get you a drink? I have beer, O.J. and water.”

“Oh, just water for me, thanks. Where’s the yearbook?” Kat dropped her purse on a small table and plopped herself on the loveseat. Karter joined her with two bottles of water.

“Here, take a look.” He handed Kat four small bound books, dating 2012-2015.

The two spent half hour looking through pages, pointing, laughing, and recollecting events, when Kat felt Karter put his hand on her knee. They got quiet and Karter inched his way towards her, wrapping his hands around her waist and pulling her closer. Kat closed her eyes and their lips came together. The kiss started softly but soon became intense and hungry. Kat could feel his five o’clock shadow scratching at her chin and cheeks.

Kat pushed off his chest and separated their lips, taking some labored breaths. “Karter, I don’t know if I want to do this.”

“Okay.” Karter waited, then leaned forward again and Kat re-introduced their lips. Things began to get hot and heavy and Karter unbuttoned and shrugged off his long-sleeved shirt, revealing his muscular physique and six-pack abs. He took Kat’s hands and placed them on his own chest.

“Wow, you really workout a lot,” Kat whispered into his mouth.

Karter continued kissing Kat and pulled her leather top off over her head, exposing her bare chest. “Oh man, you have great tits!”

Karter began kissing Kat’s jaw and neck, while his hands squeezed her breasts and thumbs rubbed her nipples. Kat shifted her hands to his biceps, enjoying the sensations. “Mmmm!” Karter suddenly stopped and stood them both up, strong hands grabbed Kat around the waist and behind the legs, and scooped her up and off to his bed. He laid Kat onto her back and he semi-laid on top of her.

Kat felt stifled by his strong cologne as he roughly sucked on each of her breasts. He lifted up his head and panted, “I’m going to remove your pants, okay?” But, as Karter undid Kat’s belt, she began to cry. “What’s wrong?!” The man questioned, swiftly sitting up.

Kat sat up, too. “I’m sorry, Karter....sniff! But I cannot do this....I don’t want to do this....I’m so very sorry.” Kat held her palms over her face and both sat in silence for a minute, thinking. Kat wiped her eyes and looked down at Karter’s bulging crotch, then straight into his eyes. “Sorry to lead you on, dude. But I’m still not over my ex.”

Karter sighed and went over to retrieve Kat’s top for her. “It’s okay, Kat. Here, you better put this back on.” He went over to his dresser and pulled on a T-shirt. Kat was re-dressed and stood up, finding her purse. She tapped her phone screen a couple of times then put the device in her back pocket.

“I’ve ordered an Uber and I’ll wait outside for it. Thanks again for the drinks and the company.” The two half-smiled at each other and Karter gave her a loose hug.

“You’re welcome.....Uhm....Hey, can I get a rain check?”

Kat laughed, “I’ll let you know, okay? I’m kinda a messy bitch at the moment.”

Karter insisted on waiting next to Kat until the Uber arrived. They waved and he watched the car drive off. He spent the next two weeks messaging Kat often, but Kat simply ghosted him.

Chapter Text

Kat got to the office an hour early on a sunny Monday morning because it was a special day. It was Adena’s one-month employment anniversary and Kat wanted to make it special, decorating her office with a large banner she had made and a bouquet of flowers. The banner read, “Happy 1 Month Adena!” And the flowers were yellow tulips, Adena’s favorite. She really wanted to make Adena feel appreciated as a new employee of Scarlet.

Kat got everything set up and went downstairs to her desk, smiling proudly to herself.

“Good morning. You look like the cat that ate the canary,” Alex teased. He was standing next to the copier waiting for Angie.

“Oh you are always so perceptive, Alex. It’s a good Monday morning.”

“Hmm, I don’t know if ‘good’ and ‘Monday’ go together. But alright, more power to you.” Alex grinned then got serious. “You seem to be handling Adena’s employment here well.”

“Oh for sure. We are both adults and are trying to be good co-workers....friends.”

Kat walked away and sat down, booting up her computer to start the workweek. Fifteen minutes later there was a ring and Adena’s name showed up on her desk phone’s caller I.D. “Happy one-month to you, Adena!” Kat answered in a cheery voice.

“Thank you, the flowers are lovely. And the banner, too.... I’m assuming it’s also from you.”

“Yep, it is. I just wanted to make you aware that we are fortunate and grateful to have such a talented, creative, in-house photographer and friend, here at Scarlet Mag,” Kat bellowed in a silly voice. She thought about adding ‘beautiful’ but that would be too much. “And, also wish you a happy one-month work anniversary.” Adena giggled into the receiver and thanked Kat again.

So hey, “I’d also like to take you to lunch. But it will have to be tomorrow, as Jacqueline and Patrick have us scheduled for a 1 - 4 PM lunch seminar-thing with some stuffy white dudes in suits. Is tomorrow good for you?”

“Yes, tomorrow will be great. You pick the time and place, Kat.”

Kat’s heart was skipping a beat knowing she scored big kudos with the banner and flowers. “Cool, let’s say 1 PM and we’ll go to Cucina di Nonna on Lexington and 73rd. You’ll love their vegetarian ravioli, and their cannoli’s are decadent. We’ll celebrate your one-month and one-day then.”

“That’s perfect.”

- - - - -
Mid-morning, Kat walked up to Angie to check the status of the seminar packets she was preparing for the lunch meeting with the Board of Directors. “Not good, Kat. The copier keeps jamming and I don’t have enough three-hole binders for all the Members.

“Ooh, not acceptable for the suits. We must have a separate binder for each person. Okay.... Bring the original docs, your sunglasses, and come with me.”

“Where are we going?”

“Two metro stops and a block to Staples Office Supplies. We can use their copiers and purchase the remaining binders we need.” Kat went over to her desk and grabbed her purse and sunglasses, too, and headed outside with Angie.

The Staples trip turned out to be a great idea and the two girls were able to finish putting the meeting packets together, in the store, in no time. “Hey it’s only 10:45, let’s grab a cold drink at this juice bar by Staples, my treat,” Kat offered Angie. Drinks and binders in hand, the girls crossed the street to walk the short block back to the metro station. Half way to their destination, they passed by three rough-looking teenage boys harassing a young African-American girl, who was sitting on the bus stop bench. She looked very distraught so Kat did a 180 and walked back a few feet to her side. “Wait up, Angie.”

The girl was wearing a head wrap and a Winnie Mandela T-shirt. “Hey, are you okay, hun?” The boys looked over at Kat and started laughing. “Who the fuck are you, her mother? One said. Kat ignored them and asked the girl, “Can I pay for a cab for you to get home, away from this trash?” One of the boys heard her and spewed racial slurs at them, while another spit at their feet. That made Kat furious and she laid into them, yelling back and throwing a crumpled up napkin at them. Angie was standing a few feet back watching it all unfold and saw one of the boys take out a large pocket knife from his jeans. “Oh my god, Kat!” So, Angie immediately ran and waved over two officers patrolling on bicycles, that were across the avenue from their location. When the three thugs saw what was happening, they quickly ran away, disappearing into a large crowd ahead.

“What’s the trouble here, Miss?” Angie and Kat explained the situation to the police and their story was backed up by the girl and some onlookers that had witnessed the ordeal. Although Kat didn’t get into trouble, because she hadn’t done anything wrong, the unpleasant experience left her shaken and upset, especially when Angie mentioned the pocket knife. It didn’t help too that the officers held them up taking statements, making them almost late for their lunch seminar with the higher ups, adding more anxiety to the situation.

The girls had to forego the metro and grab a fast cab ride back to Scarlet, barely making the meeting. Kat came into the meeting sweaty and irritated by the whole racist ordeal, helping Angie distribute the meeting materials amongst the attendees. “Way to go, Kat. You almost dropped the ball, made us look bad. I thought you were going to be late,” Patrick smugly said as Kat sat next to him.

“Well, I wasn’t!” Kat snapped back with a deadly stare.

The meeting began and moved along fine. Kat had calmed down quite a bit and was presenting her part to the Board on the Scarlet Instagram initiative, when Patrick rudely interrupted and spoke over her in a condescending manner, man-splaining the issue. Kat felt her blood start to boil once more, pounding her fists on the mahogany table and storming out of the meeting. Patrick and Jacqueline were both stunned by Kat’s reaction, but recovered quickly and kept the meeting going until 4 PM. However, afterwards the Board Chair spoke to Jacqueline and Patrick about Kat’s unprofessional behavior and noted he was reporting her to HR for a written warning.

“Yes, it’s unacceptable. She was very unprofessional,” Patrick agreed with the gray haired man.

“Michael, I will see to it that Ms. Edison is made aware of this and that she never lets it happen again,” Jacqueline rebuttaled, as the three walked out of the conference room together. When Michael was far away, Jacqueline told Patrick in a stern voice, “I’ll handle this,” and turned her back on him and walked away.

“Andrew, see if you can find Kat and have her immediately come into my office,” Jacqueline ordered, slamming her binder down and sitting at her desk, waiting for Kat to arrive.

Moments later, Kat was strolling into Jacqueline’s office with regretfulness. “Kat your reaction was totally out of line even though I agree, Patrick was wrong to interrupt when you’re our expert on the subject and had the floor. They’ve had HR put a warning in your file, just so you know.” Jacqueline did not break eye contact and Kat looked like she might start crying. The boss stood up and walked around the desk to Kat’s side, “Look, I’m sending you home early to cool off.” The blonde was not too amused but showed some compassion by putting her hand on Kat’s shoulder.

With watery eyes, Kat nodded her head, “Okay, I’m sorry,” and went to her desk and packed her things to leave. Jane looked up with concern, from across the room, when Kat got up and walked by. But Kat just shook her head no at Jane and continued walking away.

She took the elevator down to the lobby fuming as her anger grew for Patrick....and for those three boys at the bus stop. “Aaaargh, I hate males so much!”

Kat was having a really hard day and was actually relieved to be sent home. She exited the building choosing to walk the four long blocks to the metro station, thinking the fresh air would help her calm down. But a few blocks later, to add insult to injury, she glanced across the street and something upsetting caught her eye. It was Lilly and Adena walking down the street arm-in-arm, laughing hysterically. It was the final straw to Kat’s shitty day, and the jealousy raged inside her head.

She was having trouble breathing so she detoured three blocks down to a small park and sat on a bench to try and meditate, focus and calm herself down. She dug out her cellphone and messaged her friends.

Kat/Jane/Sutton (KAT):
Had such a shitty day
Want to fucking SCREAM!

. . .

Sutton:
Sorry can’t really talk
I’m at my textile seminar in Brooklyn
Hang in there babe!

. . .

Jane:
Babe you looked really upset a few minutes ago.
What happened during your meeting?
Are u ok? Where are u?
I have a dinner date with Ryan but can cancel.

Kat:
No, no it’s ok
I’ll tell you both about it tomorrow.
I’m trying to calm down now

Jane:
You sure?

KAT:
Yes

. . .

KAT:
Just saw Adena with Lilly holding hands :(

SUTTON:
Oh frick!

JANE:
You sure it wasn’t a friend-thing?

KAT:
They were walking down street laughing
arms pretzeled together

JANE:
Oh babe, we do that!
It’s a friend-thing
No worries, they have become good friends.
It’s good for Adena

KAT:
:(
Still hurts

SUTTON:
Hang in there kid
Ya got this

JANE:
Kat, it’s okay.
Buy yourself a big Philly Cheesesteak sandwich from Rocky’s and go home.
You’ll feel much better tonight

KAT:
K
Thanks

JANE:
Call me later if you need to talk.
Luv ya!

- - - - -
Toting a cheesesteak sandwich and onion rings, Kat got home and hung her purse on a hook and slipped out of her loafers. She placed the grease-laced bag from Rocky’s on the kitchen table and went upstairs to change into shorts and a T-shirt, wrapping her hair and washing up downstairs. “Well Edison, you almost lost your job today,” she mumbled aloud as she unpacked her meal. She sat and took a couple of bites out of her sandwich but it was bland and tasteless against her tongue, as she wasn’t in the mood to eat from the numbness and disappointment she felt. So she re-wrapped the food and threw it in the fridge.

Kat grabbed her tablet and plopped on her couch, going over work and personal emails. There was an email from her mom telling her how happy she and Dad were to see her two weeks ago, and reminding her to eat and get more sleep. She also informed Kat that their new Hamptons’ jacuzzi had broken and a new replacement was being ordered.

Sighing loudly, Kat laid her iPad on her chest and closed her eyes for a bit. At almost 11 o’clock, Kat awoke in a dark apartment, hearing her phone vibrating on the coffee table. “Hello? Oh, hi Sutton. Yes, yes, everything’s okay. I’m feeling better now....no, no worries, I know you have your designing-thing on Monday afternoons. Yes...we’ll catch up tomorrow at work. K, bye!”

Kat got up and turned on the kitchen light and went to use the bathroom. On the way back, her stomach growled and she thought about the sandwich in her fridge. She planned to get it out, but instead she went straight for the bottle of vodka in her freezer. She poured herself a glass, sat back on the couch, and began drinking while scrolling through many old photos of Adena on her phone. Some were risqué, like Adena lying in her bed topless with a sultry look on her face, or of her backside standing wet and naked in Kat’s shower. Others were more innocent, like both of them embracing, overlooking Machu Picchu in Peru, or Adena lying on a blanket, eyes closed in the sun. But the one that got to Kat the most in her feels, was the last selfie she took of them as a couple in Paris. So she poured herself another generous glass of vodka.

Kat sat quietly feeling sorry for herself for a good half hour, feeling the alcohol warming her up as it ran through her veins. She closed out of her photos and opened up Instagram, looking at Adena’s and then Lilly’s feed. Adena’s hadn’t changed since she last saw it, with some posting about her latest oil paintings. But, Lilly had posted a new selfie of her and Adena at a flea market. The caption read, ‘Looking for treasures together at Brooklyn’s Annual Swap Meet.” That was the event that finally pushed an inebriated Kat Edison over the edge!

In anger, she closed out Instagram and dialed Adena, arousing her from her slumber.

“Kat? It’s almost midnight....what’s wrong?” Adena answered in a raspy voice.

“Oh yeah....s-sorry to wake you....you both up! “Kat stood up and staggered to her kitchen table and sat down on a chair, leaning forward on her elbows for support on the flat surface.

“What? Wake who up? It’s just me.” Adena could hear the slurring in Kat’s voice, coupled with the irrational behavior.

“Don’t lie to me, Deena. I saw her holding your arm....the way you, you laughed....you looked at her!” Kat raised her voice in question, “Are you two having sex?!”.... Then spoke in a hush, “Do you like her more than- -“

“Kat! You are drunk, I don’t want to talk to you right now.” Adena interrupted and snapped back angrily.

“Don’t you shout at me with your bull...sh-shit, Ah-dena!”

Adena hung up on Kat. “Hello?!!” Kat quickly re-dialed and the call went straight to voicemail. She re-dialed again, and again with no avail. Adena wasn’t picking up. So Kat texted her instead, tapping out the message and hitting send quickly without much thought.

KAT:
don’t you EVER fucking hang up on me again!

Kat waited for the three dots to appear on her device, to get a response from Adena. But, they didn’t come. So, after a few minutes of waiting, Kat threw her phone from the kitchen table across the room, hard against the cushions of her couch. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Kat pounded on the formica table top and laid her head down, “Ohhh! Shh-shit!” She yelled out into her empty loft.

Another couple of minutes had passed, when she heard her phone vibrate. Kat stumbled over to the couch, and with shaking hands held up her phone to see her screen.

ADENA:
Tell me Kat, have you FOUND yourself yet?!

Kat was speechless and dumbfounded, staring at the small screen. “Ouch!.... Fuck, I guess I de-deserved that,” Kat cried out loud, crumbling into her couch like a wounded soul, sobbing loudly.

That was the end of Kat and Adena’s shitty day.

- - - - -
The next morning Kat called out sick to work. She woke up with a head-splitting migraine, brought on by all the alcohol, the fight with Adena, and the hour she spent afterwards heaving into the toilet. There was no celebratory one-month, one-day lunch with Adena that Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, Adena found two additional vases with yellow tulips on her desk when she arrived at work. The note attached read,

“I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. You didn’t deserve that and I wish I could take it all back. I understand if you never want to talk to me again.
~ Kat”

Kat didn’t hear from Adena again until the following Monday, exactly one week from their altercation. It came in a simple text message at work.

ADENA:
When you have 10 free minutes come see me.

KAT:
I’m coming up now

The photo studio door was closed and Kat knocked softly. When she heard a muffled “Come in” she turned the knob slowly strolling inside shamefaced, to the side of the desk where Adena sat with her arms crossed.

“Hey,” Kat greeted in a barely audible voice.

Adena had an austere look on her face and simply answered, “Hi, sit down.”

Kat perched on the arm of the large guest chair next to Adena’s desk. Her hands were clammy and her pulse quickened.

“Adena...I’m - - “

“Shhh! Just sit there and listen!” Adena commanded. Kat could see the anger in her eyes.

Adena took a deep breath and let it out slowly, to calm down, dropping her eyes to her lap. “I was very hurt by your tone on that text message. The only other person who’s EVER spoken to me that way was Coco, and we know how that ended.”

“Oh-okay, I’m very, very sorry and - -“ Adena looked up and put her index finger over her own lips, to get Kat to shut up.

“Just listen.... okay? I want to apologize for my vindictive response back to you. At that moment I was very upset and I know I was hurtful, too.” Adena licked her lips and continued, staring at Kat’s clasped hands. “You told me a month-and-a-half ago that you didn’t want a relationship with me. That you needed to be free. So...I’ve done everything I can to respect and honor your wishes.” Her eyes lifted and found Kat’s again, wet with tears this time. “I-I don’t think it’s fair for you to expect me to be single and celibate all my life, waiting for you to decide what you want.”

“OK.” Kat nodded slowly in understanding, looking like a sad puppy. So Adena took some pity on her, and she spoke softer.

“Look, Lilly and I are only good friends. I don’t feel there’s anything more there. But, if there were, or if I met someone else I wanted to date, then I need you to understand it is okay.”

Kat nodded up and down. “Okay, yes I will try and understand.” Adena lifted an eyebrow at her. “I mean, I will understand,” Kat corrected.

“Okay.” Adena uncrossed her arms and picked at her nails. There’s one more thing, Kat. You really need to curve your anger and alcohol consumption. It doesn’t suit you and it’s going to get you into a lot of trouble one day. I’m truly concerned for you.”

Kat’s eyes flooded with tears and Adena looked back down at her hands, swallowing a lump in her throat.

“I understand,” Kat replied and tears escaped and ran down her cheeks.

“Good.”

Kat stood up from the chair and asked, “I’ll see you later?” She wanted confirmation that Adena was still interested in being her friend.

Adena glanced up at her and nodded. “Maybe we can grab coffee later this week?”

“I’d like that.” Kat gave her a small smile and wiped her tears away. “Okay, bye.”

“Bye Kat.”

Chapter Text

It all started very innocently and friendly. Kat and Adena were gathering in the building’s atrium for mid-morning coffee at least three times per week. They had also settled on regular Wednesday lunch meetings, as Kat referred to them avoiding calling it a lunch date. Unless there was a work emergency or conflict which caused them to move lunch, it was a sacred time slot for both of them. No one else was ever invited along, although that really wasn’t a part of the agreement. But it just happened that way.

Wednesday’s were perfect for Kat because she didn’t have any pre-set meetings, and it meant her workweek was broken up by spending an hour, to an hour-and-a-half, with the person she most wanted to have to herself, Adena El-Amin. Their relationship was much better now. They were getting along wonderfully and hadn’t had a disagreement since the drunken-jealousy incident a little over two months ago.

It was the beginning of October and the leaves were changing into beautiful hues of gold, orange, and red. It truly was Kat and Adena’s favorite time of year.

“Mmmmm, I absolutely love the fresh, cool smell of Fall!” Kat said inhaling deeply, as she walked next to Adena, both headed outside to grab a ride to their weekly lunch.

“Yes, me too! You know how I love to wear colorful sweaters and my favorite boots this time of year,” Adena boasted.

“Yes. As you say, this is the season of renewal, a time for foliage to drop, trees to fall into deep slumber, and resurrect back in the Spring in all their glory.” Kat swung her fist in front of her for emphasis, and Adena shook her shoulders giggling.

“Kat...you’ve become so poetic, lately.”

Kat leaned over and nudged Adena in the arm with her elbow. “Ha, ha! Maybe all that time you thought I was daydreaming while you spoke, I actually was paying attention.”

They had an unofficial agreement to trade-off selecting places to eat lunch every week. Today was Adena’s turn to choose and pay. “So where are you taking me today?”

“You’ll see when we get there, Kat. No cheating.”

“Can I at least get a clue?” Kat held her hands together like she was praying.

“It’s near the Garment District. We’ll be there in five minutes. Just relax and enjoy the view,” Adena answered, briefly patting Kat’s knee.

“Okay, I’ll enjoy the view of the delivery trucks driving past our Uber. Oh, and that big hairy dog peeing on that fire hydrant!” Kat pointed and coyly turned and faced Adena. Adena rolled her eyes and sighed, but then turned away from Kat and put on a big smile. Unbeknownst to the photographer, Kat could see her smiling in the reflection of the side window, making her feel warm inside.

- - - - -
“Okay, we’re here ladies,” the female driver informed. “Thank you!”

“Havana? Hmm....Isn’t that a little far to go to lunch....all the way to Cuba?”

“Very funny, goofy girl. This is a really good place to eat. Lilly brought me here twice for lunch and once with Leila on the weekend. I love their chicken selections and they also have your favorite....seafood.”

Kat held the door open and the two were soon seated inside by a small mural with a city street and two dancers. A pudgy balding man wearing an apron approached their table. “Adena, mi vida, good to see you back! I see Adela got you your favorite table.”

“Yes, Jorge she did,” Adena chuckled. “This is Kat. She also works at Scarlet with Lilly and me.”

“Well then, she’ll get special Havana treatment, too. Can I start you off with appetizers or special drinks....our mojitos are to die for, Miss Kat.”

Just two waters por favor, we have to go back to work,” Kat replied.

“Well then, you’ll have to come back at night and bring this lovely amiga back for mojitos and musica. We have an excellent group of musicians on Friday and Saturday nights. They are from the old country and play beautifully. We also have a patio out back that’s very cozy at night. I’ll leave menus with you now and return in five.”

Kat stared at Adena as she had her head turned, watching the waiter walk away. She thought Adena was looking very beautiful in her autumn colored hijab and tight fitting cashmere sweater.

“Isn’t he a lovely man? He and his wife Adela own this place and his son and daughter-in-law are the chefs.” Adena turned back and faced Kat, who seemed to be in a trance.

“Yes, very lovely....the man, the man is lovely.” Kat scratched her forehead nervously and cleared her throat, unwrapping her silverware from the navy blue napkin.

Adena mimicked Kat’s action and got her silverware ready and napkin on her lap. “So, what looks good to you?”

Smirking and dropping her eyes to focus on the menu, Kat decided on the Paella and Adena on the chicken fricassee with green plantains.

“You’ll have to try some of my chicken and plantains, Kat. You’ll like them.”

“Only if you try some of my seafood and rice.”

“It’s a deal! They also have WONDERFUL desserts!” Adena opened her eyes wide, smiling. “But we may have to take them with us. I honestly can never finish all their food and have to doggy bag half.”

“Which is your favorite dessert here?” Kat asked.

“Oh boy, it’s a toss up between the chocolate Flan and this spongy, moist cake made with three kinds of milks....Tres Leches!” Adena pointed to the item on Kat’s menu. “Yum, it’s so good, Kat. You’ll have to try it.”

“Is it as good as the chocolate eclairs you like?”

“Definitely tied with my eclairs.”

- - - - -
The meals came and both girls were full and satisfied. They asked for containers to bag their leftovers and Adena excused herself to use the ladies room. “I’ll be right back. Watch my purse and food while I’m gone, Kat.”

Jorge stopped by to collect the rest of the empty dishes and Kat ordered a couple of desserts to go. “Uhm, can I get a Tres Leches and a chocolate Flan to go, please. And charge it to this credit card. It’s a surprise for Adena, So also please sneak it in my doggy bag so she doesn’t find out.”

“Si, of course.” Jorge winked at Kat and took her bag, walking off to do his work.

Adena returned to the table and Kat was holding her cell up to her ear. She pretended to be on a business call. She wanted to kill time so Jorge could get the desserts for her. “Yeah, yeah he needs three of those folders with all our digital meeting notes. No, no he wants them photocopied two-sided to save paper. Yeah, yeah, he is an environmentalist. Oh, yes, yes that is great, Angie. I’ll hold.” Kat winked at Adena and pretended to be on hold. A few seconds later, she looked over Adena’s shoulder and saw Adela pointing to her doggy bag from the cash register. “Okay Angie, well I better go....to the bathroom, yeah. I gotta really go now.”

Adena’s eyes narrowed and gave Kat a lopsided grin. Kat got off the phone and stood up to excuse herself. “Ok, that was odd telling Angie you had to go to the bathroom right away, Kat.”

“Yep. Gotta go potty. Be right back.” Kat turned and marched away before Adena could question her some more. Since Adena’s back was turned towards the cashier, Kat had no problem paying and taking the goods. She did head over to the ladies room after, because she really had to go.

Kat returned and the ladies waved goodbye to the staff and walked outside to order their ride back to Safford. “Okay, the car will be here in seven.”

“So did you like the place and food?” Adena asked.

“Yes, good choice and I’m stuffed. I had Cuban once in Miami Beach as a teenager. My mom’s family all met there for a summer family reunion. All I remember were the desserts. Had lots of sweet cream cheese and guava turnovers.”

- - - - -
Once back in the elevator Kat offered to take Adena’s doggy bag to the 38th floor refrigerator for storage. “You know, the double-fridge has lots more room than that dingy small one by you. It’ll keep your food better, too. Plus that way I have an excuse....to see you before you leave tonight. Maybe we can walk to the metro station together?” Kat shyly looked away for a moment while she waited for Adena’s response.

Adena looked up at Kat and smiled. “Alright Mom, here’s my bag.”

“Cool! I’ll be sure to write our names on the bags so no one takes or eats them.” What Kat really was hoping for was to switch out the two desserts from her bag to Adena’s, without her knowing. She wanted Adena to find the sweet surprise later at home. She was also glad she thought about the ‘walking to the metro’ part. And now, had something to look forward to after work. Even if it was just four blocks, she was planning on walking real slow to stretch that time together.

The elevator doors opened on the 35th floor and Adena exited, but she turned and momentarily stopped the door from re-closing with her arm. “I’ll see you then after five. I had fun at lunch, Kat.”

“Yeah, me too Deena.” Kat shook her head nervously. “Text me when you’re ready to go home. I’ll grab the lunch bags and meet you in the lobby.” Kat waved and Adena released the elevator. “Bye.”

“Bye.”

- - - - -
“So-oh-oh, how was your lunch date with Adena?” Sutton stopped by Kat’s desk to get the scoop.

“It wasn’t a date and....was great as usual. She took me to a Cuban restaurant by the Garment District.”

“Oh! Is it Havana’s? I LOVE that place! Oliver took me there once when we had a meeting for a model’s fitting. Cool, and....what do you mean it wasn’t a date?”

“We like to refer to it as a lunch meeting. We’re just a couple of friends enjoying each other’s company and meeting for lunch. It would only be a date if it was in the evening. And, definitely if it was on the weekend....in the evening.”

“Huh? Sounds like B.S. to me....that title, I mean.” Kat stuck out her tongue at Sutton and swiveled her chair around to face her computer.

Jane walked up next to Sutton eating a banana. “Hello guys. How was your date, Kat?”

“Silly Jane, don’t call it that. It’s not a date, it’s a ‘meeting’ per Ms. Edison.”

“Okay Sutton, enough sarcasm for today. I have to finish this expense report for Jacqueline by 3 PM, so shoo!” Kat swiveled around to face her two friends and waved them off with both hands.

Sutton rolled her eyes and put her hand behind Jane’s back, pushing her away from Kat’s work area. “Why's Kat in a bad mood?” Kat heard Jane ask Sutton, as they walked away.

- - - - -
Kat saw Adena walk into the bullpen at 5:20 PM with her purse in tow. “Hey, ready to go home?” She asked standing.

“Yes Kat, I’m ready. That big lunch made me so tired I thought you’d find me curled up in a ball on the studio floor. I had to go buy a coffee around 3:30 to make it to five.”

Kat chuckled. She powered down her computer and took her handbag out of her bottom drawer. “Well, you made it. Let’s go grab the bags from the fridge and head out.”

Adena followed Kat into the break room where they bumped into Sutton, Jane, and Alex. “You guys headed out?” Jane asked.

“Hi guys! Yes, we are. Kat’s going to walk me to the metro so I don’t get lost,” Adena giggled.

The three coworkers smiled and observed as Kat handed the stuff from the fridge to Adena. Then, as Kat and Adena bid farewell and were walking out of the room, Sutton uttered, “Maybe Kat’s the one that’s going to get lost,” and Jane laughed inwardly.

“Bye everyone....except for Sutton!” Kat yelled from out of sight.

- - - - -
The walk to the metro was pleasant. Kat asked how Adena’s rest of the day went and made some small talk. The sidewalks were crowded with tired faces, ready to call it a day.

The girls accessed the subway by the staircase going down from the street level. Adena was taking the orange line south to Brooklyn, and Kat the yellow line towards Chelsea. Before they parted, Kat put her hand on Adena’s forearm and stopped her, looking into deep dark eyes.

“Hey, so thanks again for lunch. Great choice. Uhmmm, I was thinking....maybe we should go back there one Saturday evening to get the full Caribbean effect? You know, sit in the outside patio and hear the musicians play?

Adena looked back with soft eyes, “I’d like that a lot, Kat.”

“Good, me too.” Kat’s eyes twinkled. “Well, have a good night and....see you tomorrow.” Both exchanged wide smiles and went off in different directions.

Kat kept her face frozen in that big smile all the way home. And Adena had another reason to re-visit hers. When she got hungry, after being home over an hour, she pulled out her Havana leftovers and found two smaller containers inside, underneath her box of chicken. Kat had written with a sharpie on one:

“Life’s too short, so always eat your dessert first.”

So Adena had chocolate flan and tres leches cake for dinner.

Chapter Text

On Friday afternoon, Jacqueline called a special team huddle in the bullpen for all her staff. “People, please gather around and give yourself a big round of applause. The Fall Issue has gone to print!” Jacqueline exclaimed. Everyone at Scarlet was exhausted but elated and applauded.

“Boy, that Issue is always such a bear-and a-half. I truly hate the months of August and September because of it,” Sutton whispered to Jane and Kat who stood next to her.

Martha and Andrew were walking around the room handing out champagne flutes and filling them up with sparkling cider. “Thank you,” the girls said in unison as they took a glass. “Too bad this is non-alcoholic,” Jane added.

Jacqueline continued speaking, “I know everyone has been putting in long hours, working weekends and holidays. And, I’m having Andrew send thank you cards home to your family and significant others for allowing Scarlet to sequester you for so long. So, as consolation for your hard work, Safford is allowing me to give you Monday off. Go home and kiss your partners, babies, pets, etc. Enjoy the three day weekend on Scarlet and see you all Tuesday.” Everyone cheered loudly and the three friends clinked their flutes together, “Amen!”

“Hey, did you see Adena over there, standing behind Patrick and Oliver?”

“Yeah, I saw her when she first walked in for the meeting. She did such a great job on the photos for the layouts.” Kat responded to Jane, with a sparkle in her eye. Adena and Kat had already made eye contact from across the bullpen and shared a warm smile.

An idea suddenly dawned on Kat, and she huddled her friends together and whispered. “Why don’t we go up to my parents’ place in the Hamptons tomorrow morning and return Monday afternoon. I know they are very busy in Connecticut and the beach place is empty and available.”

“Ooh, and we can try out the new hot tub ladies,” Sutton cheered.

“Okay, I’m game guys. But only if you invite Adena along.” Jane suggested, knowing it would make Kat very happy if Adena said she’d go, too.

“I....I don’t know, guys. I’m thinking she’d feel weird now being on a weekend trip with me.”

“Babe, I know you’re apprehensive about inviting her, but you guys wouldn’t be alone. There are four of us going.”

“Yep, Jane’s right. We’d be right there outside your bedroom door listening to you guys moan and pant.”

“Very funny Sutton....but if she agreed to go, I’d take the couch and give her my bed.”

“Uh-huh, and after a bunch of alcohol and weed, you’d end up on the bed naked in her lap.”

“Nope! We are definitely NOT smoking weed at my parents’ place. They’d never allow us back, plus....Adena doesn’t hang out around drugs. So, no!”

The crowd dispersed to their work stations, preparing to go home. Jane, Sutton, and Kat took the opportunity to stroll over to Adena’s side.

Jane spoke for the group first, “Hi, we were just discussing heading to the Hampton’s ‘Edison abode’ for the weekend. Would you like to join us, Adena? It’s a last minute plan now that we heard Jacqueline’s offer.”

Sutton pointed at her taller friend and blurted out, “Kat suggested it seeing that we have worked our butts off, beaches!” Kat gave Sutton a slap on the ass and giggled. Adena laughed at their silliness.

“Yeah you are more than welcome to join us, Adena. There’s plenty of room for all,” Kat added with a hopeful look in her eyes. When they dated before, Kat had showed Adena pictures of her parents’ small two bedroom cottage near the water. Kat had promised to take her there on a weekend. But the trip never came to fruition for reasons out of their control.

Adena chuckled then replied, “It sounds like a wonderful idea, ladies. But I’m actually finishing up editing and printing photos for my upcoming gallery showing in Brooklyn. This extra day-off is going to allow me to complete the project without rush. Thank you though, for including me. Perhaps next time?”

Kat felt sad but a bit relieved Adena couldn’t make it, nodding her head in acknowledgment. Relieved, because she would have been a nervous wreck all three days with Adena so close. Sad, for obvious reasons.

- - - - -
Saturday morning, the trio rented a Prius and Sutton drew the short straw to drive up to the Hamptons. Kat got the honors of being the return driver. “Okay, but no backseat driving and no nagging about my speeding!”

“Okay, Vin Diesel,” Kat teased.

“Fasten your seatbelts, beaches.... A-Hamptons-We-Will-Go!” The tires screeched a bit and they were off to start their long weekend together.

They arrived at the house after stopping for groceries and at a local liquor store, stocking up on food, wine, rum, and coke. Jane volunteered to be the chef for the weekend and Sutton the bartender. Kat was going to DJ and figure out the hot tub.

Sutton and Jane were putting groceries away when Kat rushed into the house from the back deck. “Oh shit! The hot tub is wrapped in cellophane and sitting on wooden pallets.”

“What do you mean?” Sutton questioned, with surprise on her face.

“It’s not installed and there was this note for our handyman taped to it. Listen, ‘Ralph, do not install. Wrong tub, to be replaced with a larger model on order. Thank you, Marcus.’ Crap!”

“Shoot! And here I brought my new polka dot high waisted two piece.” Jane complained.

“Aww, sorry guys. Looks like they delivered the wrong model and Dad’s waiting on a bigger one.” Kat felt genuinely disappointed for her friends.

“Oh man, I was looking so forward to those jets on my back...and...well you guys know.”

“No Sutton, we don’t know. Pray tell,” Jane curiously prodded.

Kat squinted her eyes towards Sutton. “You’re kidding, right? That would really hurt. Those jets are too damn powerful, girl. What you need are my bathtub jets. Nice and gentle, but soothing.....wink!”

“Oooh, remind me to test those out next time I apartment-sit for you, Katherine.”

- - - - -
After lunch, and at Kat’s suggestion, the trio took bikes from her parents’ shed and went for an ‘invigorating ride’, as Jane called it. They rode all the way to the small downtown and scoped out possible bars and hangouts for the next day.

“Good thing your parents keep four bikes in their shed for guests.”

“Yeah, they like to come out to the Hamptons with different friend-couples on occasion. They also have two canoes if you guys want to try it this weekend.”

“Uh, that’s a no for me. I’m way too uncoordinated for a canoe,” Sutton replied.

“I’ll go with you, Kat. Paddling is a great arm workout.”

“I’m glad one of my friends likes water activities. Thanks Janey.”

- - - - -
Back at the cottage, the girls were sitting on the back porch enjoying the clear evening air. The drinks were flowing and all three girls were getting pretty hammered.

“So I’m thinking of pegging Richard,” Sutton blurted out nonchalantly.

Ach-tooey!... Jane spit out a mouthful of wine back into her goblet and down her chin.

“What?!” Kat laughed hysterically. “Where is that coming from? I almost wet my pants, Sutton!” Kat continued to laugh with her legs crossed.

“Well hell, then go pee!” Jane ordered, as she used her shirt to dry her chin and neck.

“Be right back!” Kat ran inside with her hand on her crotch. She returned a few minutes later asking Sutton a follow up question, with eyebrows raised. “Sooo? You gonna do it? Make Dickie squeal like a pig?”

“Ooh, gross Kat!” Jane twisted her face up. “That vision is forever burned into my brain.”

“Oh come on Tiny, don’t pretend Pinstripe’s never asked you for something like that.”

“No, he hasn’t! And....well....have you and Adena....?”

“Sutton finished Jane’s question, looking directly at Kat, “Have you used a strap-on with Adena, or vice versa, in the past?” She then turned her head to face Jane, adding, “I don’t think Kat was with Adena long enough to do that. Before their breakup, I mean....right?” Sutton turned back to face Kat.

The girls were now both glancing at Kat, who was too busy nursing her rum and coke and didn’t answer.

“Well?” Jane asked again, shaking her head exaggeratedly at Kat.

Kat just looked up and gave them both a devilish grin.

“You friggin’ dawg! Do tell, do tell, pleeeez!” Sutton high-fived Kat And begged for more information.

“Ahhh....We might have bought one after she moved into my place and....I might have tried it out on her....and had it also introduced...to me on more than one occasion.” Kat stopped talking and tried in vain to grab her straw again using her tongue, then gave up and drank from the side of the glass.

“Wow, now I’m intrigued, Kat.” Jane replied standing up and going inside to the kitchen for more wine.

“Did you like it, kid?” Sutton asked in her best southern drawl.

“Yep, I like being on both ends of it...tee-hee!”

Jane returned quickly to the deck, not wanting to miss any juicy conversation. “Well then, let’s toast to Kat Edison and her woman! To all that nasty love they made!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Jane! She not ‘my woman’ anymore. Though, I really wish she were here, and....it wasn’t nasty. It was really, really grand....sigh!” Kat paused for a bit. Then got quiet and had a melancholy expression. “I really miss her, guys.”

“Yeah, naked between yo legs! Oh man....how are her boobs....tell us?”

“Sutton?!”

“Oh hush Jane, don’t pretend you’re some angel that doesn’t fantasize.”

“Not about Adena’s boobs, Sutton!” Jane blinked her eyes quickly at the blonde.

Kat giggled and turned to Sutton, “Just so ya know, they are pretty fine boobs.”

“I knew it! Ha!” Sutton kicked her legs out straight in front of her chair.

Kat snickered and rubbed her finger around the rim of her glass. “Ummm....Deena let me take pictures of her topless, but you can’t see them. She said, ‘For your eyes only, babe’ and I guard them well.” Kat reached the bottom of her cocktail and sucked the alcohol out of her ice cube, then spit it out towards the lawn. “Guys, let’s go walk to the inlet and scream out our biggest wishes and desires into the night.”

“Sw-weet, Kat! Kinda like we made you do summer 2018 in the metro station, after finding out Adena was apprehended in Iran?”

“Exactly, Tiny J.”

- - - - -
The girls wondered two blocks down from the Edison abode headed towards the water. Sutton had snuck one of Marcus’s Cuban cigars out of his humidor and was passing it around. “Dr. E has expensive taste in cigars and scotch. Hope he doesn’t miss this one....nor the glass of scotch I had. Here Jane, have another puff.” Just as she handed the tobacco to her left....”Aaaargh!”

“Are you Okay Sutton?! Are your elbows or knees bleeding?” Jane asked concerned, but also holding her free hand over her mouth to keep from laughing.

Kat rushed over and wiped grass and mud off of Sutton’s shoulder and hair. “Geez girl, you didn’t see that lawn ornament by the mailbox?”

Sutton teetered to her feet and pointed. “Who puts that friggin cement frog-statue-thing-y by their mailbox? Idiots!”

“Well, at least I saved the Cuban for you! I truly don’t know why people smoke this nasty thing.” Jane handed the cigar to Kat who took two generous puffs.

The three all started laughing and continued their short journey in the cool night air, managing to arrive at the beach in one piece.

As soon as they hit sand Kat stumbled over her own two feet, on the unsteady surface, and fell. She dropped and rolled onto her back giggling, and began doing sand angels in front of them.

“Oh no honey, you’ll never get that sand out of your braids and....coochie,” Sutton giggled back. “And once again....ta-da....the Cuban is safe in my hands,” she added.

“Welp, at least I’m still clean and I am the only one who didn’t trip once on the way here.” Jane said proudly with arms crossed.

“Oh Jane, you’re such a fucking goodie-two-shoes!” Kat exclaimed. “But I mean that in a loving way, babe.” Kat pulled Jane down to her by the belt loops on her shorts, planting a big slobbery kiss on her cheek, which Jane immediately wiped off with her forearm.

“Yuck, not so wet!”

Sutton and Jane helped Kat up and she proceeded to walk knee deep into the salty water. “Imma gonna start first. We can say whatever we want, Okay? No judgement from the audience.” Kat took a big gulp of air and, waving her arms vigorously, hollered, “I WISH ADENA WAS HERE...WEARING A SEXY BIKINI...SHARING MY BED TONIGHT!!!”

“I’m next!” Jane pushed Sutton out of the way and moved up by Kat’s side in the water. “I WANT TO BE THE NEXT JACQUELINE CARLYLE...RUN THE MAGAZINE...AND FIRE PATRICK DU - - - DUSCH - - DOUCHEBAG!!!”

Kat giggled and grabbed Jane’s hand to steady their feet on the muddy inlet bottom.

“Okay bitches, my turn!” Sutton stood on the other side of Kat and linked hands. “I’M NOT SURE I WANT TO MARRY RICHARD HUNTER...AND I WANT TO COPULATE SOME MORE WITH ALEX!!!”

Jane and Kat gave Sutton a wide-eyes double-take, but remained silent.

- - - - -
“Well that was fun. Kat, you managed to bring half the sand from the beach into the house. Good thing your parents have a bi-weekly cleaning service.” Jane said, opening the fridge to get out snacks.

The girls were in for the night. Everyone was dizzy and reeked of sweet smoke from the cigar. “Ugh, my hair smells terrible but I’m not showering again. It’s times like these I love sleeping alone.”

“And you can sleep alone in the Master bed Kat, cuz that’s where your parents....you know.”

Kat’s face held an amused expression while chewing on potato chips, “Nah, my parents are too old for that. Beside, what do you think has happened in the other two full-sized beds you all are sleeping in?”

“Yeah Sutton, it’s like staying at a hotel. Kat and I are just glad the sheets are cleaned and disinfected.” Jane smirked from the big fluffy arm chair by the television.

- - - - -
The next day was much of the same. Outdoor activities during the day and a lot of eating and drinking during the night. It was Sunday night and the girls decided to forgo any restaurants or bars and stay in again, playing board games.

“I’ve always loved playing ‘Sorry!’ and ‘Monopoly’. And you guys?” Kat asked with a breadstick sticking halfway out of her mouth.

Jane replied, “My personal favorites are ‘Clue’ and ‘Life’....then ‘Monopoly’ perhaps.”

Sutton looked up to the ceiling and thought for a moment. “I like those all, too. But I’d rather play card games, like ‘Poker’ or even ‘Uno’ is good. Strip Poker is the bestest.”

“Kk, what should we play next? Jane you chose last, So Sutton it’s your pick.”

Sutton swiftly replied, “Truth or Dare! And we have to reply with the truth or take a shot as a dare, if your answer is a yes and you don’t want to admit it, capisce?”

Kat’s forehead creased, “What kind of rules are those?”

“Oh, just go with it, guys. And, I go first....Jane, truth or dare, have you ever had a threesome?”

“No, gross! Why would I want to have another guy naked with Ryan?”

“Well, it could be another girl....you, and Pin.”

“Even grosser, Kat!” Jane reached into a bowl and popped an olive in her mouth.

Kat dismissed Jane’s insensitivity and went next, “Sutton, truth or dare, “Did you go down on Alex?”

“Wow, uhm....I’m taking a drink!” Kat snorted, knowing that was a ‘yes’ for Sutton. Jane sat with her face flushed and eyes wide.

“Earth to Jane, your turn!” Sutton snapped her fingers in front of Jane’s face.

“Okay, I’ll never be able to look at Alex the same way....Kat, truth or dare, do you still love Adena?”

Kat’s smile slowly faded and she got tears in her eyes. “Aw babe, it’s okay. I didn’t mean to make you cry. Let me ask you another question.”

“No Jane, you blew it! I’m asking Kat the follow-up question. “Kat, truth or dare, did you make out with that hunky college friend of yours...what was his name?....Kevin?”

Kat rolled her eyes. “Karter, Sutton....Karter.”

“Oh yeah, did you make out or kiss Karter that night ya’ll met at the SoHo bar?”

“I’ll take a drink,” Kat answered with an annoyed look on her face.

Sutton pointed right in front of Kat’s face. “Ha, I knew it!”

“Jane, have you ever farted in front of Pinstripe?” Sutton high-fived Kat for the great question.

“Nope....I always hold them.”

“Sutton, did you ever tell Richard about Alex sex?”

“Ah, no Jane, that’s none of his business.”

“Kat....tee-hee!.... Was that dude from Martha’s wedding reception, two years ago, still the best head you ever got?” Sutton leaned forward elbows against the table, with her hand on her chin, waiting for the response.

“Well, that’s an easy one. No. By far, Adena-the-goddess-Amin wins the new title.” Kat looked at Jane’s expression and cracked up, holding her belly. She gained her composure and added, “But all kidding aside guys, it’s Adena.”

- - - - -
The games went on for another two hours. Soon Jane and Sutton decided they were too drunk and tired and went to bed. “Party-poopers!” Kat shouted at their backs as they walked down the hall, and Sutton flipped her off. “You wish, Sutton Brady!” Kat wasn’t ready for sleep quite yet, so she went to her bedroom and decided she really missed Adena. She picked up her phone and messaged her instead.

Kat:
Hi :) It me!

. . .

Kat was content Adena was responding right away.

Adena:
Hello there

Kat:
Is this a good time to call you?

Adena:
I thought you were going to the Hamptons?

Kat:
I’m here. Wanted to see if you could talk
Jane/Sutton big party-poopers
went to bed drunk :(
I miss you...

Adena:
Bedtime so early, while at the Edison abode?? :0

Adena made a joke to keep it casual and ignored Kat’s “I miss you” declaration.

Kat:
I’m lonely!
WAY too cold to walk to park
Yo, whose great idea was it to come to Hamptons in Fall... ;)

Adena:
Kat, seriously we shouldn’t talk when you’re drunk.

Kat knew Adena was thinking about that last time she texted her drunk, and they ended up fighting.

Kat:
No, no, no Adena I promise I’m gooods
Just tipsy
Promise...Yeah

Adena took a moment to reply and Kat knew she was weighing her options.

. . .

Adena:
Okay, call

Kat FaceTimed instead of calling. Adena let the call ring four times before picking up. But soon, her beautiful face was on Kat’s device. She could tell she wasn’t home, and she guessed she was at her studio from the paint on her face.

“Hey, so how’s your night? I see some white paint on your cheek, which means you must be working like mad-woman-Adena, the Persian artist.” Kat scrunched her nose and mused.

Adena found it amusing and looked away for a second with a slight smile or her face. “Mm-hmm. You are perceptive, Detective Edison. What’s up?”

Kat stared at Adena’s image for a bit and then continued, feeling that the alcohol was giving her a lot of courage. “Well, um, I’ve been seeing a therapist my mom suggested.” Her eyes darted briefly away from Adena’s, then back, waiting for some kind of reaction out of the confession. Kat had started seeing Dr. Tiffany, but no one was privy to that information, not even Jane and Sutton.

“Okay?” Adena responded.

“She’s really cool and at first it was awkward and I felt a lot of anxiet about opening up to her with my private issues. But now it’s been five weeks and 10 sessions and I feel like she’s an old friend. Well, she’s actually a friend of my mom’s, but not as old. Maybe 40? And, she - -“

“Kat! That’s good, and...?” Adena interrupted placing her fingers around her chin, tilting her head in question.

Kat took a cleansing breath and said, “Well, last session she asked me about you and our relationship now.” Kat saw Adena’s eyes widen a bit.

“Oh, okay?”

Kat continued, “She asked if you would ever consider seeing her, too.”

Adena froze with a questionable look on her face. Kat knew her art had always been Adena’s escape, her therapy, and never heard her mention therapy before.

“No Kat, no. I do not think so. I’m sorry.” Adena looked down at her finger nails.

Kat could see Adena’s discomfort and she stopped looking directly into her eyes when she spoke. “It’s cool Deena, no pressure at all. I just wanted to put it out there, that’s all. Obviously doc and I have talked a lot about you, a lot about us. Kat raised her eyes back at the screen and at Adena’s eyes, which quickly looked away. “Mainly ‘bout how I fucked it all up last year...how I fucked a good thing up.” Kat’s voice was now cracking from the weight of her emotions.

Adena darted her eyes back up to the screen and met Kat’s, but remained silent.

Kat stared into Adena’s dark eyes. She felt like the door to her pent up emotions had been opened wide by the therapist. “I just miss you...I miss us, Adena. And I’m so, so, sorry for being such a jerk when we were dating. I should have NEVER gone to that stupid bar to party with Leila. NEVER gotten so drunk and kissed Daniella. NEVER agreed to an open relationship. I’m REALLY sorry I hurt you!” Kat covered her face with her free hand and began to openly sob, feeling broken and fragile.

Adena didn’t respond and just stared at Kat, silent.

Kat sniffled and wiped away tears from her face, rubbing her hand on her pant leg to dry, and looking back up.

“Okay, Kat. I think this conversation should just end now. You will feel better in the morning.”

“K- Adena. I....I wish you were here instead of Sutton and Jane. And, again, I’m sorry for everything.”

Kat saw a sincere look in Adena’s eyes, as she answered, “I’m sorry too, Kat.” She knew the artist was compassionate and not cruel, and was showing a lot of patience tonight towards her drunken, emotional status.

“Goodnight.”

Kat disconnected the call and Adena’s image disappeared. She plugged her phone on the charger to her side, and staggered to her bathroom, peed, and washed up as best she could for the night. On the way back to the big bed, she peeled every bit of her clothes off and got underneath the covers stark naked. She closed her eyes as the room seemed to spin, and daydreamed about Adena being there, next to her. She reached over to her nightstand and unplugged her phone again from the charger, flipping through her photo albums, until she found the perfect picture. It was of Adena inside her bathtub, bare chest semi-covered by bubbles, long tanned legs crossed and propped up against the side of the tub, sexy smile on her face. “You are sooo damn gorgeous, Adena El-Amin,” Kat whispered to the room, and slipped two fingers between her thighs.

- - - - -
At 11 AM Jane’s alarm went off and she shuffled to the kitchen, after using the bathroom. She made pancakes, eggs, and turkey bacon for the trio. Then set the coffee pot on. “Hey lazy bones, get up and eat!” She yelled out. A few minutes later Sutton emerged from the bathroom, hair sticking up, and joined her at the kitchen counter, pouring herself some black java and stabbing a couple of pancakes with her fork.

“Man, I feel like a semi hit me. And, look at the cut and bruises on my knees, Jane.”

“Ooh, we’ll have to clean that with alcohol when you’re finished here.”

“Thanks mom.”

“Speaking of mom,” Jane swiveled her body around on the wooden stool and shouted, “Katherine Aisha Edison! Your eggs are getting cold!”

Sutton dropped her fork and grab her head. “Ouch Jane, you’re not good for a hangover! My head’s pounding!”

“Sorry babe. I’m going to have to bust in Kat’s room to rouse her.” Jane climbed down and strolled to Kat’s door. Knock, knock!....“Kat?!”

“Huh?” A muffled voice barely audible came out of the room.

“I’m coming in!” Jane warned and opened the door, peaking in. “Ahhh!” Jane quickly closed the door back up.

Sutton’s attention was suddenly peaked, “What, what ya see? Was there someone else in there with her?”

“No Sutton, of course not. She’s lying totally naked, sans-covers, on her stomach.”

“Oh man, she was definitely thinking about Adena last night. Where’s my phone! We have to capture a photo of this moment!” Sutton ran to her bedroom and came back with her phone. “K, let’s go back in.”

Jane opened the door and Sutton actually started a video. There, in the middle of white sheets, was a naked Kat on her stomach with a pillow over her head screeching, “Go away!” All the covers were kicked off on the floor, so she was unable to cover up. Jane and Sutton were filled with laughter as they approached the bed.

“Ha, ha! Got it! I’m sending it to Adena, stat.”

“No, don’t you dare!” Kat shouted and jumped up out of bed and ran into the ensuite bathroom, coming back out wearing a terrycloth robe. She chased Sutton down the hall and tackled her over the living room couch, taking the phone back.

“Aw, you’re no fun Kat! Adena would have loved to see your fresh ass this morning. Giving her a taste of what she’s missing.”

Jane rolled her eyes at the two and went to continue eating. Kat and Sutton eventually joined her and they made plans for their last morning in the Hamptons.

- - - - -
After eating Jane’s brunch, the girls decided to pack the rental car up and head back to the City early. They’re Hamptons long-weekend was coming to an end.

It was Kat’s turn to be the designated driver and Jane sat shotgun. “Well ladies, this was definitely fun....tiring, but fun,” Kat said, with dark circles under her eyes. “Now I can go back to work and actually get some rest sitting in my desk chair.”

“Yeah, I feel like we were all in a perpetual state of drunkenness. But it was a blast.”

“Yeah Sutton, that’s cuz we WERE all in a perpetual intoxicated state for the last two days.” Jane flipped the visor down to look at herself in the mirror. “But here’s to good friends and good times!”

Kat and Sutton responded, “Cheers!”....”Jinx!”

Chapter Text

Sutton outstretched her hand into Kat’s NYU hoodie pocket and dug out her phone, quickly swinging her arm away from her friend’s reach. It was late Saturday evening and the three friends were hanging out and sitting on Jane’s couch, watching a movie and drinking wine.

“Hey!”

“You’re taking too long overthinking this! Imma going to message a simple invitation to Adena about the concert, and that’s that!” Sutton informed her anxious friend.

“Please don’t!” Kat begged, pulling at the blonde’s sweater as Sutton held her back using her hip and leg.

“No Sutton! You can create it, but Kat gets to decide if she’s sending it or not,” Jane intervened from the other side of the couch, holding Sutton’s arm with Kat’s cellphone.

“Fine!” The girls released their hold, and Sutton tapped out a message to Adena, pretending she was Kat. Jane monitored the action looking over Sutton’s shoulder.

Kat:
Hey Adena!
Just landed two tickets to MUNA
Concert in 2 wks
Want to go?

“Here ya go, scaredy-cat.” Kat carefully took the device back, making sure not to accidentally hit send.

“Okay, okay. Seems innocent enough and to the point.” Kat took a deep breath and was about to send it, when Jane shouted.”

“Whoa....wait, Kat! Let me have it.” Jane stood and extended her hand out, with palm up, and Kat placed the phone on it. “Let me snap a picture to go with it.”

“Good thinking-miss-Lincoln!” Sutton sung out. “Oh, but let Kat take the selfie holding the tickets. It’ll look more convincing that she’s doing this all by herself.....without her friends prodding her.”

Kat twisted her body towards the side coffee table and dug out the tickets from her handbag. She held the tickets up against her chest and said, “Just take it, Jane. I’ll hold my free arm up and out to make it seem like a selfie.”

Jane took a few photos as Kat held her pose and grinned ear-to-ear. Handing her the phone back when she was satisfied with the outcome. “Kk, choose the one you like best and attach it, Kat.....I have to admit, I can give Adena a run for her money as a photographer.”

“You came out so cute, girl. Send that third one where your nose is crinkled,” Sutton suggested. “Bet Adena will think you look awfully cute!”

“Let me see. Oooh, I wouldn’t quit your day-job, Tiny Jane.” Kat teased and Sutton let out a loud snort. “Hope she says yes, guys.”

Jane and Sutton looked at each other. “I’m pretty sure she will, babe. Keeping our fingers crossed.”

“And if she doesn’t....ouch!” Jane smacked Sutton on the thigh for saying that. “I mean....if she already has plans, then Jane and I will fight to the death to be your date at MUNA.”

Kat looked down at the tickets in her hand and said, “Okay, here goes nothing!” And hit the up-arrow.

- - - - -
Thirty hours earlier, Kat had been very fortunate to acquire these two tickets to see MUNA, the popular girl pop band, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The venue was small and the coveted mid-November show was already sold out by the time Kat had tried to buy tickets online two-months prior. However, one of her father’s connections worked as a concert promoter for the entire State of New York. Marcus had mentioned to the guy that his daughter lived in the City and liked to frequent concerts, especially those of female performers. So, when the man came into his office with two free MUNA tickets, Marcus was ecstatic and grateful. He went right down to the FedEx store in New Canaan and overnighted the tickets to Kat. She was not expecting anything from her parents and was intrigued to see the large envelope when it was handed to her at Scarlet.

Kat was walking back inside the office from using the restroom, when Martha called to her from the front desk. “Hey Kat, FedEx just dropped this for you.”

“Oh....it’s from Dr. M. Edison....Hmmm? Okay, thanks girl.”

Kat headed towards her desk and pulled the small tab, ripping open the flat cardboard container. A smaller white envelope fell out with ‘We *heart* you! Love Mom and Dad’ written on the front. Kat couldn’t believe her eyes when she opened that envelope and a pair of concert tickets fell out. “Oh mah gowsh!” She exclaimed. Then messaged both Jane and Sutton to meet up in the Fashion Closet.

Sutton:
We are already here, babe.
Come join

Kat hurried in, tickets in tow. “Guys, my parents just sent me these MUNA tickets....eeek!”

“Sweeet!” Sutton shouted, rushing to Kat’s side.

“Shhhh, Sutton you’re being way too loud! There are a couple of Board Members meeting with Jacqueline next door.” Jane scolded, and Sutton stuck her tongue out at her. “Wow, how’d they get those from C-T and....you couldn’t get them in N-Y-C?”

“Not sure. But Dad knows a few of people in the entertainment industry. Some are patients and others acquaintances who just work in radio and television stations, or they know a person....who knows a person....etc”

“Groovy Kat, we’re happy for you.”

“Yeah, you love that MUNA,” Sutton held her hand to her heart and looked heavenward. Sooooo....who gets the honors of going with you? Just a reminder, you chose Jane over me to accompany you to that poetry open mic-thingy last time.”

Jane waved her index finger in Sutton’s face. “Oh, don’t play victim. You already had plans to go with Richard to a fancy dinner with his stuffy college friends.”

Kat pouted and plopped onto the round pillow-y ottoman by the dress racks. “Only got two, so....sorry guys. You’ll have to draw straws for it or do rock-paper-scissors for it.”

“K, Jane. Best two-out-of-three wins. Ready?”

“Nope, nope, nope Sutton!” Jane said shaking her head at both friends. I think the second ticket should be offered to Adena, as Kat’s date for the event. Oh sorry....I meant your friendly-companion for the event.”

“Oooh, I’m....not sure about that Jane,” Kat winced.

“What? It’s a perfect plan, Kat,” Sutton walked over and placed both her hands on Kat’s shoulders. “You said you had discussed going to a night or weekend dinner with Adena, when you guys went to Havana’s. And that she had been favorable of that suggestion. Sooo, this is your chance. This is your first ‘date’ out of the office....your opportunity for an Adena and Kat revival!”

“I second that motion....what Sutton said,” Jane stared down at Kat with arms crossed.

“Okay. Yes, okay. But I’m not asking her here at work. Imma gonna to send her a text message inviting her later on....tonight....tomorrow morning, at the latest.” Kat stood up and paced the floor.

“You don’t prefer to do it face-to-face?”

“No Jane, no. I’d rather do it via text so Adena doesn’t feel immediately pressured to decide. This way she gets the message and has time to think if she wants to go or not. Yeah....yeah, that is really the best way to handle it.”

- - - - -
Flash ahead 30 hours and Kat has put her cellphone back inside her sweatshirt pocket, waiting for Adena’s response. Her friends could tell Kat was restless as she kicked her crossed leg nervously forward.

“You guys want me to make more popcorn?” Jane asked pausing the movie.

“Mmmm. I’m going to get some coconut rum ice cream. You want some Katherine?”

“None for me, thanks.”

All of a sudden the three heard a buzzing coming from Kat’s body, and Kat jerk forward. “OMG, it’s Adena!” Jane shouted, and Kat jumped up to stand. She took out the phone and read the message to herself.

Adena:
Yes, okay
Sounds very fun :)

Kat’s facial expression changed instantly upon receiving Adena’s response. The girls could tell Adena accepted the concert date and gave Kat a big, group hug. “Oh babe, this is going to be sooo good! Your favorite band and your favorite girl, all in one night,” Jane proclaimed with happiness in her voice.

Kat sent Adena a quick smiley emoji and closed out her phone, throwing it inside her purse. “Yes, yes indeed! Wow!” Kat sat back down and sighed loudly. “I’ll take some of that ice cream now, Sutton.”

As her two friends were in the kitchen preparing more snacks, Kat sat in the living room alone, thinking about the date with Adena. It would be their first real date since the Paris breakup a year ago.

“Here ya go, your coconut ice cream and spoon.”

“I thought you said it was rum coconut.”

“Oh shoot, yeah.” Sutton stood back up and came back with a bottle of Bacardi Gold. “Hear ya go, bon appétit.”

“Sutton, you are amazing, Ha!”

Jane came back with a fresh bowl of buttery popcorn. “ Okay, let’s finish watching this movie.”

- - - - -
It was close to midnight when the movie ended and the three began clearing items from the living room to the kitchen.

Kat stood at the kitchen sink washing bowls and cups in soapy water, rinsing, then handing it to Jane to dry. Sutton was busy sweeping some of the popcorn kernels Jane had dropped under the kitchen table.

“You guys, I’m going to be a nervous wreck for the next two weeks just thinking about the concert and Adena.”

“But why, Kat? It’s Adena. You guys have a long history together. You know you both care about each other deeply, and you both basically have an understanding that you still want more than just friendship. Am I right?”

Sutton finished and put the broom and pan away. She walked over to Kat and grasped her shoulders from behind, gently pulling and pushing her back-and-forth, saying, “No, no, no. There’s nothing to be anxious about. We’ll help you pick out clothes and prep your speech. It’ll be won- -der- -ful!”

“Yes. Sutton and I will go home with you on Friday, after work, and help you pick out your outfit for Saturday night.”

“Thanks guys. You are the best.”

Jane winked at Kat and Sutton sighed, “We know.”

“Now, let’s get ready for bed. So glad you brought an overnight bag with you, Kat.”

While the friends brushed their teeth together, Sutton asked if Kat planned on kissing Adena goodnight.

“Gosh, I don’t think we’ll get there just yet.”

“So you want to?”

“Heck yeah, you know I want that and more. But I want to take things slow and see how we feel....how Adena feels.”

“Well then, after the concert and date you can go home alone and indulge in Ms. Rihanna under your covers.”

“Is that what you ended up naming the new rabbit vibrator we gave you for your birthday, Kat?”

“No, that’s what Sutton named it.”

- - - - -
The next two work weeks flew by for Kat. Patrick kept her so busy with new assignments, one which took her away from the office, that she had to cancel lunch with Adena on the Wednesday before their Saturday date.

It was finally Saturday night and Kat was dressed in her favorite blue skinny jeans, lace up boots, and striped sweater, ready to pick up Adena in an Uber at 5:45 PM. The plan was she’d head from her place in Chelsea to Adena’s in Brooklyn. The Uber would then drop them both off in Williamsburg. After the concert they’d walk around and grab dinner wherever they’d fancy at that moment. It was all low key and low stress, Kat had told Adena.

Kat:
I’m 5 away.
Come down to your lobby and I’ll tell you when to step outside.

. . .

Adena:
Great, can’t wait!

The car pulled up and a happy Adena got in. “Well hello.” Adena reached over in the back seat and gave Kat a quick hug. She was dressed in spice colored corduroy overalls, denim blouse and matching hijab, and wore her black zippered leather jacket Kat loved.

“Hi, you look so nice. I’m so excited for tonight. You’re going to absolutely love MUNA, Adena.”

“Thank you, Kat. You look very nice, too. I’m ready to have fun with you.”

The two were dropped off at the Music Hall and absolutely enjoyed the concert. Kat even posted a brief Instagram video of the performers singing her favorite MUNA song and of Adena clapping and dancing along to it. Kat could be heard giggling in the background as Adena smiled at the camera and winked in a flirtatious manner. Both Jane and Sutton replied to the video,

“Awww, it’s what you guys deserve!”....and....”Look at your hot woman! So glad you guys are having a blast!”

- - - - -
After the last standing ovation, the band left the stage and the crowds cleared. Adena and Kat exited the venue on foot, into the cool November night. As they moved together, both kept their hands inside their jacket pockets to keep warm. “Oh my gosh, that was incredible! Exactly what I expected. Thank you for coming with me, Adena.”

“Oh, you are more than welcome. And, thank you for inviting me, Kat. I loved the entire show. I remember some of those songs from last year, when you played them in your apartment on our lazy weekends together.”

Kat turned to face Adena as they walked, and simply smiled and nodded in agreement. “Hey, where do you want to eat, I’m starving. Last thing I ate was Cheerios with milk at 11.”

“Oh no, poor baby. I don’t care Kat, but I’m famished, too.”

They walked for another 10 minutes and came upon an Italian restaurant by the Williamsburg water and bridge. The interior had a modern vibe and there were vegan options on the menu that looked good to Adena. There was a small line outside, but they were able to get seated in a short amount of time.

The waitress brought them waters and menus, and the girls opted to order a bunch of items and share. Kat ordered the roasted eggplant and vegetable tortellini and Adena ordered grilled baby artichokes and sheep's milk ricotta filled occhi and spinach. “Gosh, that all sounds dee-lish, Kat.”

Adena and Kat savored their dinners while continuing to discuss photo shoots and social media topics. For dessert they shared the stracciatella and toasted almond gelato and got two spoons from the waiter.

“Mmmm Kat, this dessert is simply decadent. It literally tastes like toasted almond butter.” Adena closed her eyes and let out a small moan as she spoke, making Kat’s heart skip a beat.

“Yes, the perfect way to end the perfect night,” Kat responded and gave Adena a warm smile. She reached over the table with her napkin and wiped Adena’s chin. “You had a little shaving of chocolate on your chin, Deena.” Kat’s mind wondered and thought about what it’d be like to have licked that morsel off of her chin, instead. But quickly snapped out of it and smiled.

“Oh, thank you. You can’t take me anywhere,” Adena giggled and bit her lip. Her eyes sparkled in the restaurant’s candle light and Kat thought about the first time she met her, by total chance, in that photo studio. How from that moment, her life was changed by this beautiful woman that is in front of her tonight.

“What you thinking about?” Adena inquisitively asked when she saw Kat was lost in deep thought. She knew Kat so well, nothing could get past her.

“Just about how we met. How I was so drawn to you like a magnet from the start. Even though you were mean to me, and you had basically kicked me out of your studio after I mentioned Scarlet Magazine.”

Adena covered her mouth with her hand and laughed inward. “Ohhh! Come on, it wasn’t that bad. I was upset with Firuze for letting Scarlet pursue me after I had already said no to them. You were just....the messenger that got my wrath.” She finished with a giggle.

“Uh-huh. That’s what you thought of me, I was just a messenger?”

Adena paused, squinting and crossing her arms on the table. “No, what I really thought of you was that you were such an attractive woman. And after you posted that selfie holding the ‘Misunderstood’ sign, I had to get to know you, for sure.”

Kat’s mouth curved up into a big smile.

Adena continued, “And, after that night we spent hiding contraband in my suitcase, I thought I had to keep you in my life, one way or another. No doubt one Kat Edison had smitten one Adena El-Amin.” Kat chuckled and Adena looked down at her hands and kept speaking. “You know, if Jane hadn’t called and interrupted us that night, I would have kissed you.” Adena drew her eyes back up at Kat’s. “Even after you told me you were such a proud hetero, I was willing to try and deal with the repercussions afterwards. And that might have meant you’d never want to see me again. But at that moment, I didn’t care about anything else but putting my lips on yours.”

Kat silently stared at Adena, blinking and studying her face.

The waiter brought over the bill, interrupting, and Kat insisted on paying for the meal. “Ready to go, Adena?” The girls put on their jackets and exited the establishment. They strolled by the water and stopped to admire the City’s skyline.

“I absolutely love this view. But it always makes me a bit melancholy.” Adena’s smile faded.

“Huh, how so Adena?”

“Well, it reminds me of when I first came to New York, as a naive 22-year-old tourist. I had broken up with my very first girlfriend, the very first woman I was ever with, and on a whim I signed up for a six week photographer’s workshop in New York City. I came here seeking some kind of comfort from the situation, but what I found was a lot of loneliness.” Adena paused, and Kat could tell she was fighting back tears. She closed her eyes and chuckled, then turned to look at Kat. “You know, New Yorkers are one of the least friendliest people. So it wasn’t a good choice for a young, heartbroken Muslim girl to come here.”

“Well....but I’m glad that Muslim girl returned to New York later, regardless of her bad experience at 22.” Adena and Kat gazed deeply at each other with soft eyes. “Uhm?...” Kat nervously broke eye contact and turned back towards the water.

Adena smirked and turned to face the water, too. “I want to thank you again for this lovely night. I’ve had a lot of fun and I am glad we are doing things together again, Kat. When we were apart....I missed our close friendship too. You truly are the one person that I feel 100% comfortable with. And I know we’ve had our problems - -“

“Yeah, it’s been complicated,” Kat interjected, eyes unfocused over the water.

Adena turned to look at Kat, observing the distant look in her eyes. She reached out and grabbed Kat’s jacket sleeve and pulled at it to make Kat turn and face her. “It’s been complicated like all relationships can be. But with better communication, trust, and forgiveness, it can be great again.”

Kat looked down at Adena’s hand gripping her sleeve and followed it up with her eyes back up her arm, her face, until their eyes met. She slowly nodded her head in agreement. “That’s what my therapist told me. Apparently, I’m also afraid of commitment because I’m afraid to get hurt....again.” Kat bowed her head and stared at Adena’s feet. “She’s really helped me a lot, allowing myself to re-build trust and not self jeopardizing a good thing when I have it.”

Adena gave Kat’s sleeve two small tugs and let go. “I understand and don’t want to hurt you anymore.” Kat lifted her head back up and they re-made eye contact. Adena’s relaxed body language conveyed sincerity and honesty to Kat, as she stood close with her arms at her side.

“Can I....can I give you a hug?” The question came out of Kat’s mouth weak, and she felt out of breath.

Adena’s reply came in the form of both of her arms extending outward, wrapping around Kat’s waist. Kat reciprocated, enveloping Adena’s petite frame with her long limbs. The women embraced intimately for a good couple of minutes, soft curves molding together, and perfumes intermingling. Kat felt her body heat rising with the chest to chest and hip to hip contact. With neither woman wanting to let go, Adena laid her head on Kat’s shoulder and Kat pressed her cheek on Adena’s denim hijab. The world around them seemed to stand still for that short moment.

The sound of a small tugboat puttering by broke their spell and they both released their hold, smiling and each taking a-half step back. “Let’s walk some more towards the bridge. There are some benches there by a small grassy knoll we can sit at and talk some more.”

“Okay Kat, that sounds good.” Kat gently took Adena’s hand, interlocking fingers, and the two moved slowly along the water’s edge, towards the bridge. They found an empty bench and spent the next hour talking.

- - - - -
Kat opened an app and ordered an Uber back to Adena’s Brooklyn apartment, to continue on to hers. The car was there shortly and both girls were in the backseat, holding hands. As the car stopped in front of Adena’s place, Kat asked the driver to wait and walked Adena to her downstairs door.

“Would you like to come upstairs for some tea or water?” Adena asked with glinted eyes.

Kat’s forehead creased. “I....I better not.” Kat knew if she’d enter that apartment, they’d end up naked in Adena’s bed. And Kat didn’t want to risk ruining a good thing that was developing again, with a night filled with just lust. She knew if they’d just hang in there long enough, building their friendship and trust back up, it would pay off big time in the end. And the reward would be electrifying.

“Okay, I respect that. Thank you again for tonight.” Adena brushed Kat’s cheek with her thumb then hugged her. They both held on tight, inhaling each other’s perfume one more time before saying goodnight.

Kat let go first. “I’ll see you Monday morning at work for coffee?”

“You bet. Bye Kat.”

“Bye Adena.”

Kat got back into the Uber and watched Adena wave goodbye and enter her lobby, heavy metal door closing behind her.

- - - - -
Back at her loft, Kat changed into flannel pajamas, brushed her teeth, and washed up. She stopped by her dresser drawer and took out the framed photograph of her and Adena in Peru, and she displayed it on one of the bookshelf’s behind her couch. She stood and looked at it for a few seconds and said aloud, “Goodnight, baby,” and turned off all the lights, crawling under her duvet in bed. Sutton was right, she reached over into her underwear drawer and indulged in Ms. Rihanna under the covers.

Chapter Text

The annoying sound of the downstairs buzzard resonated in Kat’s loft, causing Kat to jump three feet in her bed. “Who the fuck keeps calling!” Kat yelled out and chucked a pillow towards her front door. It was Sunday morning and Kat had failed to wake up early for ‘Sunday BrunDay’ with the girls. She threw aside the duvet and trudged over to the intercom system, barking out, “Yeah?!”

“Kaaat? Are you....alone up there?” It was Sutton, her voice garbled in static.

“Hey! Remember today is Sunday BrunDayyy....and you didn’t text us to stay away, sooo....here we are!” Jane shouted into the speaker.

“Oh shit! Yes guys. Sorry, I forgot and....must have hit stop instead of snooze on my phone alarm without realizing it. I’m buzzing you, come up and I’ll get ready fast.” Kat pressed the black push-button for a second then unlocked the door. She knew she had two minutes before her guests arrived, so she ran into her bathroom to pee. There was a knock at her door while she washed her hands, then the doorknob turned and her two friends walked in.

“Hello!”

“Geez girl, Jane and I assumed you and Adena were up here naked and pretzeled together under your covers. But since you didn’t text us to stay away.....we thought we’d still come by. Did she leave early?”

“Yeah, sorry Kat. But you didn’t respond to texts. So, we still wanted to confirm if you were jogging and brunching with us, so we decided to bravely buzz you. If Adena was here, well, you’d just have to tell us to F-off, right?”

“Or maybe Adena could have gone with us, too. When did she leave?”

Kat was brushing her teeth and had a mouth full of toothpaste, so she just answered her friends with a watery gurgle.

“Okay, no rush....but hurry. The quicker we get our 45 minute run done, the quicker my mouth gets hit by syrupy pancakes.”

Kat spit and rinsed, then washed her face. “Okay, going upstairs to throw on my stuff.” Kat rushed up to her second level and shed out of her flannels, slipping on a sports bra, long sleeve T-shirt, and running tights, asking, “Is it cold out?”

“Ah, Yeah. You need a vest or windbreaker,” Jane replied.

Kat came back downstairs wearing her purple insulated running vest and holding her running shoes. “Okay, grabbing my keys and wallet and I’m ready.”

As the threesome walked through the hall and down the stairs, Jane asked, “So, how was last night?”

“OMG, MUNA was....ah-mazing! Adena and I loved the concert.”

“And?....” Sutton rolled her hand in front of herself asking for more information.

They stopped in Kat’s lobby to stretch for a few minutes, then headed outdoors and started jogging towards the park.

“The rest of the night was great, too. I’ll tell you guys all about it once we are seated at brunch. Let’s just get this annoying part over with, first.”

“Okay....but did you all sleep together? Inquiring minds are dying to know, Kat. And....I just can’t wait for the answer ‘til brunch!”

Kat shook her head, “No Sutton, we did not have sex.”

- - - - -
The girls finished their run and were seated at a very small outdoor table in the patio of a new diner they wanted to try. As they waited for their food to arrive, Kat began to report on her date.

“So after the concert we walked for a bit and found a neat Italian place by the river in Williamsburg. The food was really good....we should go back there some day, girls.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then what’d ya do?” Sutton pleaded.

“What’s the name of the restaurant?”

“Oh....who really cares, Jane!”

Kat laughed at Sutton’s impatience to get her to spill the tea. “After dinner we walked by the river and sat on a bench under the Williamsburg’s Bridge and talked for an hour. We had some good heart-to-heart conversations. Kinda cleared the air, you know. Just things we hadn’t unpacked since Adena’s return.”

Jane reached over and rubbed Kat’s back. Sutton rested her head on her shoulder from the other side of the round table. “Good, babe. I’m proud of you and happy you and Adena finally talked....really talked.”

“Yeah, ditto what Tiny Jane said. But, tell me you guys at least kissed on that bench....or when you dropped her off?”

The waitress came by and refilled everyone’s coffee mugs. “The food’s coming out in 5, ladies.”

“Thank you.” Kat took a sip of her coffee, then continued. “Dr. Tiffany doesn’t want me to be sexually intimate until I can build back my trust and become more secure with commitment issues. She said the worst thing we can do is base our relationship on the physical only, because it won’t last. Gotta get that emotional side solid, first.”

Jane and Sutton gave each other a questioning look while Kat doused her pancakes in syrup and sliced them up.

“So, how many sessions have you had with this therapist, Kat?”

“Mmmm, like 12 now. I started going twice per week but now go once.” Jane opened her eyes in amazement since this is only the second time Kat had mentioned going to therapy.

“And Kat....how can you just hug Adena....on a dark, secluded bench....and not want more? Does this therapist know it’s cuffing season?”

“Well, of course I want more, Sutton.” Kat put her fork down and crossed both hands over her chest, closing her eyes. “Mmmm, her perfume smelled so good, guys. I could smell it on my collar, even after I got home and hung up my jacket.” She reopened her eyes and continued eating. “It was very, very hard to just leave Adena at her doorstep and get into that Uber, let me tell ya. Not gonna lie, I wanted to tell the driver to just leave and run back towards her. Adena did invite me upstairs for tea, but I turned her down.”

Jane let out a small, “Wow.”

“Adena said she understood, but I saw disappointment on her face.” Kat took a couple of drinks from her water glass and paused to think. “It’ll be okay. The payoff will be grand, if we get back together. We just have to be patient.”

Jane also took a sip of water and wiped her mouth with her napkin. Kat could tell she was thinking of something to ask. “Kat, what if Adena is reading this differently and takes it as you just want to be friends.”

Sutton added, “Yeah, good point. Have you given that any thought? Like, what if she starts dating other women.”

Kat had left out a part of last night’s date that she felt was private between her and Adena. But she caved and told her friends, so they’d stop bugging her and put them at ease.

“We did hold hands during our walk back from the bridge, and then again in the cab. So there was an intimate connection made. I don’t think Adena’s going to pursue dating other women, girls. I think she wants what I want.”

Sutton and Jane looked at each other, smiled, and nodded with happiness.

- - - - -
Back at work the following day, Kat was in the break room talking about Thanksgiving with Jane, Sage, Oliver, and Sutton.

“So what are you all doing for Thanksgiving this year,” Sage asked the group.

“Carli and I are going to my friend’s for some deep-fried turkey. They live in Queens and have one of those deep fryers in their backyard....yum!”

“I’ve always wanted to try making that, Oliver. But wouldn’t know what to do with all that peanut oil afterwards. Donald and I are driving to Philly to celebrate with his parents and grandparents. They have a huge family event.”

“Sounds like fun, Sage.” Jane replied. “Kat, forgot to ask you, are you going to your parents’ in Connecticut?”

“Not this year. The parentals are actually taking a cruise to the Bahamas with Mom’s sisters and husbands. So I’m free and homeless.”

“Well then, come do turkey with Sutton, Richard, Ryan, and me. I think I’m making the turkey and stuffing and Sutton and Richard are doing the rest. You can buy and bring a pie. Ryan’s got the wine.”

“Yes, and invite Adena. That would be nice, right?” Sutton suggested, batting her eyelashes.

“Yes but, she told me earlier today at coffee....um, she’s already got plans to go with Lilly and Leila to some other friends’ house.”

“Okay, next time. But we’ll all have fun together.”

“Without a doubt, Jane.”

- - - - -
On Tuesday afternoon, Sutton found Kat in the copy room, by the color printer. She hustled over to her side and hopped up on the counter besides her. “Hey, got new tea for you. Wanna hear it?”

“Oh, let’s see....heck yeah!” Sutton slapped Kat’s shoulder as she laughed.

“So listen.... I was sitting with Alex on the other side of Baristas’s big floor menu board, and I overheard Adena and Lilly talking. They were waiting in line to order drinks and didn’t see us cuz the sign shielded us.”

“Alex, huh?”

Sutton pushed Kat’s shoulder. “That’s not the point of this story!” Kat loved to get the blonde’s goose.

“They were talking about Thanksgiving and Lilly was trying to convince Adena it was okay to cancel on her and Leila and go with you. That means Adena has discussed your previous invitation with Lilly.”

“Oh, I’m beginning to like that Lilly more each day,” Kat mused. “But, I wouldn’t want Adena to do that to her. In fact, I bet Adena would not cancel because that would be shitty and anti-Adena’s code of friendship.”

The printer came to a squeaky stop and Kat reached up to the shelf above the printer, taking out more photo paper to refill the printer tray. “So, did you hear anything else?”

“Yeah, Adena said she couldn’t do that to....some girl’s name....and Lilly told her to just think about it. Adena replied to that too, but Alex started telling me something about Angie being cute and I couldn’t hear the second reply....ugh!” Sutton rolled her eyes, annoyed.

“Hmmm. See, Adena wouldn’t be a fair-weather friend like that. If she committed already, she’d follow through.”

Sutton jumped off the counter and leaned in close to Kat’s ear, “I did hear one more thing while they walked off....”

“Okay....you peaked my interest.”

“I shushed Alex just in time to hear Adena say, ‘I’ll just ask Kat if she’s doing anything the day after Thanksgiving.’ So, I think she’s going to ask you on a follow-up date. The sequel to ‘Bridge Bench Buddies’ is coming.” Sutton winked and made a clicking noise with her mouth, then walked out of the room all proud.

Kat leaned her butt up against the counter and smiled to herself, in deep thought.

- - - - -
After Wednesday’s lunch, Kat and Adena were walking the three blocks back to Safford engrossed in a story Adena was telling about her childhood. “Oh Kat, you should have seen the look on Maman’s face when Zareen and I came inside covered in mud! We got in sooo much trouble. I’ve never seen her so mad at us before. The only other time I’ve seen her that upset, was after she saw my keyhole tattoo on the back of my wrist. Poor Maman.” Adena was so animated, and Kat loved seeing her like this.

“Well, you know what they say. Someday you’ll have a daughter that does something equally upsetting to you, and your Maman will tell you, ‘I’m glad you now know how I felt.’ It’s motherhood’s karma.”

Adena gave Kat an amused look, “That’s a peculiar response from you.”

Kat guffawed, “Hey, you know I was raised by psychiatrists. Psychoanalysis rubs off on an impressive young mind.”

As they stopped across the busy street waiting for the crosswalk sign to change to green, Adena turned to Kat and placed her hand on her shoulder. “Kat, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Okay, I’m listening..... Wait, let’s cross first.”

The ‘Walk’ sign turned on and they crossed the street with the massive lunch crowd to the opposite side. Adena pulled Kat by her coat sleeve to a quieter side of a building and stopped.

Kat thought she looked a bit tense before she spoke again. “I know you asked me to Thanksgiving dinner at Jane’s and I told you I already had plans. And, I still do. But I was wondering, what are you doing the day after?”

“You mean besides letting my round turkey-stuffed belly air out?” Kat rubbed her belly and used humor to lighten the situation, as she knew what was coming.

“Yes silly, yes.”

“Nothing, I’m free. What did you have in mind?”

“Well, there’s this new artist showing her blown glass sculptures at the ‘Clearing’ in Brooklyn that I want to go support. The opening is Friday at 2 PM and I was wondering if you’d like to go with me?”

“Sure, that sounds....fragile....and fun.” Kat put a cheesy grin on, “Get it? Glass....fragile....yeah?”

Adena smiled contently, studying Kat’s face. “I was thinking you could come to my place at noon and I could make you lunch? Bet you haven’t had fesenjan in awhile.”

Kat shook her head and chuckled, “No, I haven’t. Not since you last made it for me.” That would be wonderful! I’ll bring dessert.”

“So....it’s a date?”

“Yes, it’s a date.”

- - - - -
Thanksgiving dinner was a lot of fun at Jane’s place. Jane’s middle brother, with his wife and baby boy, came down from Albany to join his baby sister in the festivities. Everyone over-ate and there was a lot of wine drinking and some football on the flatscreen.

The next morning Kat woke up in her loft fairly early to go for a neighborhood jog, then soaked in her tub while looking at Scarlet’s social media. She put down her iPad on top of the toilet seat and closed her eyes, meditating. She was looking so forward to spending the day with Adena.

At noon she arrived at Adena’s with a box of chocolate eclairs and a bunch of yellow tulips. “Well hello, Kat!”

“Wow, it smells devine! I missed your cooking so much.” Kat handed off her gifts to Adena. For you, my lady.” Adena pressed a tender kiss to Kat’s cheek and took the items from her hands, turning her back and walking away.

Kat held her palm on her cheek where Adena’s lips had just been, contently sighing.

“Aw, they’re lovely flowers.” Adena called from the kitchen. “And, something smells very sweet inside this box.”

“Yes, some chocolate treats for after lunch.” Kat slipped off her silver boots and hung up her leather jacket and purse on an antique coat rack in the foyer. “Wow, this place is lit!”

Adena’s new flat was a humble studio apartment in Brooklyn, that Kat had yet to see. However, for the last week she was house-sitting a larger apartment in Greenpoint, and this is where she asked Kat to meet her. The place had floor to ceiling windows in the living area that faced out over a building with a huge colorful mural. She was on the opposite side of a busy avenue, so it was fairly quiet, too. One of the large windows opened up into a door, and there was a small balcony with potted trees and planter boxes filled with purple daisies and small sunflower-looking blooms.

Adena walked back out of the kitchen into the living room. “Thank you, Kat. I truly lucked out when I found this place. An art friend’s grandmother owns it and was looking for a house sitter for three weeks while she travels Asia. She’s a horticulturist and works for National Geographics. She paid me very well to temporarily stay here so I can water her plants and feed her birds.” Kat looked over towards the back windows where a couple of lovebirds sang in a large ornate cage.

“Oh, very nice. What are her dogs’ names?” Kat asked, holding a picture frame of the owner and her three Maltese pups. Adena shrugged her shoulders at Kat.

“I can’t remember. They are staying with Mimi’s mom. Come I’ll give you a grand tour.” Adena started by showing Kat the galley kitchen and small wine facility. Then she opened up a door adjacent to the wine closet and revealed a small dark room.

“Wow, this place is amazing! It’s a photographer’s dream, Adena.”

“It’s older and cozy, but has everything. Follow me through here.” Adena took Kat into the Master bedroom and showed her the cast iron clawfoot bathtub by the bed. “It’s an antique, original with the building.”

“Wow, awesome.” Kat’s eyes went nervously from tub to panning over the king sized bed covered with mounds of silk pillows. Adena read her discomfort and swiftly took her by the hand, leading her back into the kitchen. “Come, let’s eat and then I’ll show you my favorite part afterwards. You will love the terrace.”

- - - - -
After two helpings, the girls finished eating and Kat offered to do the dishes. “Let’s do them together, and we’ll let the pot soak,” Adena responded. Kat washed and Adena dried, their hands and fingers rubbing together as plates and silverware were passed. When they were done, Kat followed Adena out through the large glass door to the patio. Outside, the cool late November breeze whirled the leaves on the mature potted ficus and tousled Adena’s long loose locks around. Spent flowers tumbled down to the distressed Spanish-tiled terrace floor and swirled in a corner, in a sort of mesmerizing dance. Kat stood holding onto to the balcony railing admiring Adena’s beauty in the gentle wind. “It feels so nice out here, Adena. I bet this is where you like to have your coffee in the mornings.”

“Mostly when I come home from work. I make my international teas and sit out here, enjoying the outdoors and the peacefulness. The mornings have been rather chilly, lately.”

“Yes, true. That’s why I wear my kitten flannel pants to bed,” Kat announced with a chuckle.

Adena turned slightly and faced Kat. “Did you have a good Thanksgiving at Jane’s?”

“Yes, but uneventful. I ate too much.” Kat patted her stomach. “And yours, how was it with Lilly and Leila?”

“Good, we ate too much also.” Adena grabbed her belly and let out a soft laugh. “Lilly’s friends are very nice and they’re expecting a baby girl in February.”

“Aww nice. But I can’t imagine. That’s life changing,” Kat noted and Adena narrowed her eyes at the statement.

“Yes, a little one is a huge responsibility, but is nice when the time’s right, no?” Kat looked over and locked eyes with Adena. She took a moment to think of how to answer the question, but suddenly Adena’s phone rang in her back pocket, interrupting. “Oh, speaking of little ones, it’s my sister calling from Morocco. Do you mind Kat?” Kat shook her head, so Adena answered, “Allo âbji?”

Kat loved hearing Adena speak Farsi. The way the words rolled off of her tongue were kind of a turn-on, Kat thought to herself. Although Kat knew Zareen spoke broken English, Adena felt more comfortable speaking to her and her Maman in their native tongue. During the brief conversation at hand, Kat heard her name mentioned twice. The second time it was said, Adena glanced at Kat and giggled like a teenager.

“Okay Zareen-joon, Deltanget-am!” Adena ended the call and placed her phone back in her pocket.

“Everything okay?”

“Oh yes, Zareen wanted to tell me about a new boy she met at a training for work. You know, she’s a bit boy crazy, ha!”

“Well, good for her. She’s a very pretty girl, like her big sister,” Kat winked. “But I’m glad you are girl-crazy instead.”

Adena blushed at her visitor’s statement and quickly redirected the conversation. “Hey, we should probably get ready to go soon. I don’t want to arrive late.” Kat followed Adena back inside to the guest bedroom and watched her wrap her navy hijab on her head. When finished, Adena realized they hadn’t had dessert. “Oh no, do you want your pastry now before we go?”

“To be honest, I’m kinda full,” Kat tugged at her leather belt. “Can we come back after the showing and have them later?”

Adena smiled widely, “Yes, of course. I would like that, Kat. Let’s have them this afternoon with tea or coffee. Good plan.”

- - - - -
The gallery showing at the Clearing was very interesting. Not at all what Kat was expecting. For starters, the building was in an old warehouse district. Most of the adjacent buildings were empty and boarded up. “I find this place so fascinating,” Adena explained with admiration. “Kat, many of the artists featured today have studios nearby. These buildings used to be a fabrication plant, where textiles were made in the 1920’s. This is ‘Clearing 2’. The owner of this one has his original gallery in Brussels.”

“Wow, that’s cool,” Kat answered, enjoying Adena’s bravado.

“Come, let’s go see and meet my friend Delta who does the glassblowing herself. You’ll love her work.” Adena grasped Kat’s hand and pulled her to the back of the room.

The exhibition was constantly filled with people coming and going, and the women spent three hours at the event. They saw different types of art genres and talked to many quirky artist-types, most of which also admired Adena’s work.

“Hey, ready to go? My feet really hurt in these new boots. I can’t wait to go home and kick them off.”

“Yes, ready when you are,” Kat answered, and she and Adena caught a cab back to Greenpoint.

- - - - -
Back at Adena’s the two women had their shoes off and were delighting on the big leather couch, sharing a large chocolate eclair and drinking Persian tea. Adena had lit a big gardenia-scented candle on top of the coffee table, and the two parrots were busy being chatty, singing and whistling away by the window.

“Ouch!” Adena complained rubbing her feet together over her thick socks. “I think I’m getting a blister on my left little toe. I’m afraid to look.”

“Here, let me see.” Adena leaned back on pillows and stretched out her leg over Kat’s. Kat slipped off her sock and threw it on the floor. “Yep, you were about to break the skin, but luckily we got you home and out of those new shoes in time.” Kat proceeded to give Adena a nice foot rub, avoiding the painful toe.

“Oooh, aren’t you thoughtful. Mmmm, that feels good,” the artist contently moaned.

Kat gave Adena a caring look and suggested, “Lie back on the pillows and give me your other foot.” Adena followed orders and soon Kat had Adena’s other sock off and was massaging both her feet, which laid on top of her own thighs. She could tell Adena was biting at her bottom lip trying to suppress more moans of pleasure, also pressing both eyes tightly closed. This made Kat giggle.

“What’s so funny,” Adena said with one eye now open.

“Nothing.... Just seeing how you’re really enjoying my massage.”

“Uh-huh.” Adena opened her other eye and watched Kat’s hands in action.

The two now stared at each other as Kat finished her kneading, reaching over the top of the couch and grabbing a blanket to throw over her and Adena. “There, feel better?”

Adena chuckled, “Yes, thank you Dr. Scholl’s.”

Kat grabbed the remote and clicked the television on. “Hey, want to watch a movie or something? Let’s see, they’re playing a Josephine Baker musical from the 30’s I wanted to watch. Is that okay? Or, would you rather watch a documentary?”

“The Baker movie sounds good, Kat. Let’s do that one.”

Kat put the movie on and the girls watched it from the couch, Adena’s legs still on top of Kat’s and both snug under the warm blanket, lying on opposite ends, with heads resting on pillows. Four hours later, Kat woke up to find Adena sound asleep in the semi-dark apartment. The candle she had lit had long burned itself out and the birds were totally quiet on a perch. The only light in the room was coming from the muted T.V. and the full moon shining through the large windows. She figured Adena must have muted the television at some point, after she fell asleep. The last thing she remembered was Baker singing and dancing to a seductive number.

Kat had to go use the bathroom, but she didn’t want to disturb Adena. So she waited a bit longer and watched her sleep. She looked so peaceful, except for an occasional little snore that escaped her parted lips.

Eventually Kat gently moved Adena’s legs off of her and slid off the couch. Adena let out a sigh, but remained asleep. It warmed Kat’s heart to see how comfortable they both felt in each other’s company, so she grabbed her phone and snapped a picture of a sleeping Adena for posterity’s sake.

After using the bathroom, Kat gathered her things and slipped on her silver boots and coat, walking up to Adena and sitting on the edge of the couch next to her. She used her fingertips to softly move Adena’s hair away from her face, then traced the curve of her nose down to her lips. Adena stirred and fluttered her eyes open. “Hey?” She said with breathy voice, looking a bit disoriented.

“Hey,” Kat smiled. “I’m going to get going now. You don’t have to get up, I’ll let myself out.”

“What....time is it?” Adena asked sitting up.

“It’s Kat’s-gotta-go-home-now....and after 10 o’clock.”

Adena chuckled and rubbed her eyes, yawning.

“Thank you for the delicious homemade meal, the gallery invite, and the great company. I love hanging out with you, Deena.”

“I love hanging out with you too, Aziz-am.” Adena smiled and tilted her head sideways.

“Okay.... I’ll see you at work Monday. Enjoy the rest of your long weekend.” Kat stood up and leaned over Adena and kissed the top of her head and her cheek, straightening back up. “Bye.”

“Bye Kat. Thank you again for the chocolate eclairs and foot rub.” Adena reached and grasped Kat’s hand and rubbed the back with her thumb.

“My pleasure.” Adena let go of her hand and Kat walked to the front door. Kat stopped and took one more glance back at Adena, sharing a smile, and she left.

In the cab ride back to Chelsea, Kat sent Adena a message and attached the photo she took of her asleep on the couch. It read, ‘If only I could look so beautiful when I sleep.’

Chapter Text

It was the middle of December and another year almost gone. The morning for Kat had been grueling at work, with various meetings to attend and phone calls to return. But now Kat was very happy it was finally lunchtime. Sutton had sent her a text a few minutes prior inviting her to join her and Jane for lunch...”Hey dude, we’re in the break room. Come join,”...and Kat was happy to finally get away from her desk.

She strolled into the room with her homemade grilled cheese sandwich and her empty Hydro Flask in tow. Both Jane and Sutton were already sitting down at the center table, laughing hysterically.

“What’s so damn funny, you two?” Kat asked, as she first headed for the filtered water cooler to refill her bottle.

“Nothing, right Jane?” Kat saw Sutton turn and elbow the shorter woman.

“Actually Kat, we were discussing the soirée Sutton is hosting December 31st. Should be a blast!” The blonde friend had decided to host a New Year’s Eve party at Richard’s condo... “We need to ring in 2020 with a bang and lotta alcohol!”... She had earlier briefly mentioned to Kat, as they entered the lobby for work.

“Yah...Suttard’s Soirée, count Kat Edison there, bay-bee!” Kat said, giggling. She hopped onto an empty stool, sitting opposite her girls, and unwrapped her sandwich.

“Oh, I love that ship name you guys created for us.... Here, I’ve actually already mapped out the event on this pad of paper. Wanna see?”Sutton slid the pad over to Kat.

“Okay cool.” Kat reviewed the notes while taking a bite of her cheesy bread. “Wow! Food from Wok-n-Rolls, snacks from Trader Joe’s, alcohol, sodas, ice....looks like there’s plenty to eat and drink. I’m game.”

Sutton winked, “Yeah babe, Richard said he’d pay for it all and didn’t want me to be on my feet cooking all day. So I’m jumping on his generosity train and....his deep pockets.”

Kat pushed the pad back to Sutton. Jane caught it and pushed it right back at Kat. “Did you see the guest list on the next page?”

Kat flipped the paper and studied the list, which read:

#4 The usual suspects:
Couples = Me/Dick; Jane/Pin; Alex/Angie; Sage/Donald; Andrew/Coleman; Martha/Pablo
Singles = Kat; Adena; Lilly; David; Oshie; Michelle; Carmen...Patrick(?); + dates of the Singles?

“Looks like everyone’s covered. I especially like the two first names on the ‘Singles’ part.” Jane and Sutton both nodded and smiled, agreeing with Kat’s comment.

Kat scanned the room to make sure they were alone and looked at Jane revealing a rumor. “Did Sutton tell you, Alex thinks Patrick and David are secretly dating?”

Jane nodded but made a disgusted face. “You know my sentiments regarding Patrick. So I feel sorry for David”

“Oh, I think you’re being too hard on the man.” Kat waved off Jane’s comment. “And, I think David would be good for Patrick. It might help him loosen that stick up his butt.”

Jane rolled her eyes at Kat and sighed. “So Kat, I was mentioning to Sutton that Ryan and I would like to sleep over on the 31st. That way we can drink and stay up as late as we want that night.”

“That’s a fine plan, Tiny Jane.”

Sutton tapped her pen on the pad and offered Kat the same thing. “Why don’t you also bring an overnight bag and sleep over. You know we have those two spare rooms.”

Kat nodded for a moment, then answered. “Okay, I’d like that.”

Sutton got up and threw away her banana peel. She walked back around the table and put her arm around Kat’s shoulders.

“Actually, when you walked in we were....discussing your situation with Adena.”

Kat replied with a simple, “Uh-huh.”

“Kat, we know you want to jump Adena’s bones next time there’s alcohol in ya and you’re both alone. You are both grown ass women....so?”

Kat opened up her Instagram page and started scrolling through Scarlet’s feed, pretending to ignore the question.

Sutton released her hold on Kat and leaned on the tall formica table, continuing, “Jane and I can’t believe you’ve been celibate for like....six months? Like last time you hooked up with a girl....cough, cough....Adena....was before my fashion show?” Sutton opened her eyes wide and high-fived Jane across the table.

“Don’t pretend you aren’t listening, Kat. We know how your mind works,” Jane chimed. “And, we cant believe you guys haven’t even kissed, yet.”

Kat shrugged her shoulders at the two. “How do you want me to answer that? Yes....yes, I’m super-horny and Adena makes me weak? You guys know we are taking it slow. It’ll happen, maybe, one of these times. I’m going to let nature take its course.”

Kat’s friends smirked at each other and another group of coworkers walked into the small break room with their sack lunches.

Jane stood up and pushed her and Sutton’s stool in, winking at her friends, “We’ll finish this discussion later, Kat.”

“Well, lunchtime is over, gals. Let’s let these lovely people take our table.” Sutton tore off the two sheets of paper out of the notebook and threw the pen and paper back inside the messy cabinet drawer where she found it. Kat and Jane followed her out of the room and returned to their desks.

- - - - -
It was finally December 31st, New Year’s Eve, and at 7:30 PM Kat was on her way to Richard’s. She had a small overnight bag in tow and she was feeling happy and sexy in her party clothes.

She arrived at the modern Manhattan townhouse and pushed the small round button, hearing the doorbell chime. Sutton opened the door revealing the inside of the posh multilevel structure. “Let Suttard’s Soirée festivities begin!” Kat yelled into the entry hall, holding two bottles of Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé over her head.

“Hello girlfriend! Come in, come in!” Sutton slapped Kat’s ass as she passed her.

“I splurged on some good stuff, babe. Only the best for the Suttards.” Jane ran up to Kat and hugged her. “Hey Tiny Jane, you ready to par-tay?! She looked at the shorter friend and then at the blonde, “Man, you guys are looking hot as fuck!”

“Look who’s talking in her tight leather pants and festive blouse. Are you....braless, Ms. Edison?” Sutton felt Kat’s back for a bra. “Yep!”

“Guess you came dressed to impresss....Adena?”

“Ha! You’re one funny-bunny, Jane. I came dressed to impress no one and have a good time ringing in 2020.”

As promised, Kat had arrived at Suttard’s early to help Jane and Ryan with decorations. Kat had also offered to take on the task of being the party DJ. She promised to take requests from guests, and was willing to play anything as long as it wasn’t country music.

Richard came downstairs, smelling like Irish Spring soap, and hugged Kat hello. He joined in placing the last decorative touches on the first floor by the kitchen. When he finished, he headed into the patio and turned on the tall outdoors heater he’d rented the day before. “I checked the Weather Channel app several days ago, and today’s New Year Eve’s temp is going to be chilly,” he announced. Sutton had provided a bunch of spare wool blankets for Richard to also place next to the patio tables and chairs for guests.

At approximately 8:30 the food was delivered by Wok-n-Rolls and the girls had all the other snacks and drinks laid out and ready for consumption.

“We ready to parr-tay, beaches!” Sutton cried out and the three girls embraced in a big group hug. Ryan and Richard gave each other a firm handshake and smiled.

- - - - -
The front doorbell rang, and the first guests arrived. Andrew, Coleman, Oshie, and Patrick strolled in carting beer, wine, and a big box of donut holes. Richard let them in, then taped a note on the front door: ‘Come in, it’s unlocked.’ Adena, Lilly, and Leila were a few seconds behind them and walked in. “Hello?...”

Kat was over by the couch setting up the Bluetooth speakers and readying her iPod, but her ears immediately perked up when she heard Adena’s voice. She set down her stuff and walked over to greet the three ladies.

Adena was carrying a tray of homemade baklava and Lilly held two bottles of champagne. The sweet smell of warm honey still emanated from the dessert.

“Hello ladies! I’ll take that tray from your hands and Richard will grab those bottles for the bar. Ooh, you made Kat’s favorite dessert Adena,” Sutton cooed.

Kat saw a slight flush on Adena’s face and ears, as Adena responded, “Oh, I doubled my mother’s recipe so everyone could get a piece.”

“It smells divine, Deena, the crowd’s gonna love ‘em. Thanks for making them,” Kat said as she hugged each girl. “You guys all look very festive,” Kat complimented.

“Thank you, you too,” Lilly replied, and Leila added, “Fun outfits for fun times!”

Adena smiled sweetly at Kat and simply answered, “You look very lovely, too.”

Kat nervously smiled back and admired Adena’s outfit. She really liked the fitted, velvet floral maxi skirt and black button-front knit cardigan adena wore, showing off her hourglass frame. The look was finished with an ebony colored hijab and Adena-style jewelry. Kat’s heart felt like it melted by the whole look.

- - - - -
The soirée was in full throttle by 9 PM. The guests had all arrived and were joyful, eating and drinking. Most of the people were inside scattered amongst the lower level of the property where the kitchen, dining, and great room was located. A few brave souls were huddled outside on the terrace, with coats on or using the blankets provided by Sutton for extra warmth. Most were sitting at the corner patio table under Richard’s tall patio heater. Kat had made sure the inside music was also shared outside via an outdoor speaker.

Jane walked up to Kat holding a bottle of her Sparkling Rosé. “Top off your drink for you?” Kat reacted by covering her glass with her open palm. Surprisingly, Kat had only consumed a glass of wine so far tonight.

“No, I’m good. I purposely don’t want to over-drink tonight. You know....I want to be all here for the party,” she told Jane. But Jane knew that meant she wanted to be sober for Adena.

“Sure.... So Kat, you plan to finally kiss Adena at midnight?” Jane asked as she saw Adena was quite a distance away, distracted, talking to Alex and Angie.

Kat huffed, “Oh Tiny Jane, you’re always such a matchmaker.”

“Well.... You guys have been flirting all night long, so don’t deny it. Answer the question, yes or no?” Jane demanded.

Kat responded to get Jane’s goat, “I was actually going to kiss Lilly instead. You know, to make Adena jealous.”

Jane chuckled and pointed to the two lovebirds sitting on the huge leather couch, arms around each other. “Ah...babe, you’ll have to fight Leila for that. Lilly’s got Leila sitting on her lap at the moment.”

Kat glanced over to the women and smiled, as Adena returned to her side. “Looks like Lilly and Leila have become real close,” Kat commented to Adena.

“Yes, yes they have. I’m so very happy for them both. Lilly is a sweetheart and deserves someone who will love and appreciate her. Leila is very good for her.”

————————————-
By 11:50, Sutton and Richard began pouring and distributing plastic champagne flutes filled with bubbly. “Here we go guys,” Sutton motioned at the trays they were holding. It was almost midnight and they wanted to be ready for the final countdown to 2020. Jane and Ryan also took trays and helped with champagne delivery. Earlier, Angie and Martha had passed around party hats and noise makers to all, so the scene was all set for midnight celebrations.

Kat and Adena were gathered together by the double doors leading to the back terrace. Kat excused herself to use the powder room, leaving Adena momentarily alone. Sutton saw this and approached Adena with a sweet non-alcoholic cider. Kat quickly returned and heard Sutton saying, “Awww, you know you’re always welcome, Adena. We consider you our good friend, too. We’re almost as glad you could make it as Kat is.” Adena was shyly smirking as Sutton walked away.

Kat touched Adena’s back lightly and added, “It’s true, I’m so glad you are here to celebrate with me.”

Adena parted her lips like she was going to answer Kat, but in that moment Richard shouted, “Two more minutes folks! Gather ‘round and raise your glasses.” The group followed his directives. “Here’s to good friends, beautiful ladies...and gents....and to 2020. Cheers!” Everyone from the outside patio were now inside, and Kat and Adena clinked their glasses together.

“10 seconds to go now,” Alex yelled.

The crowd began to toot horns and stomp their feet loudly, shouting in unison, “.....five-four-three-two-one, Happy New Year!!!” Everyone shrieked, hugged, and couples kissed. There were lots of noise makers and poppers bursting, shooting confetti up into the air, landing everywhere.

Kat looked at Adena and they embraced warmly, holding on to each other for a few seconds before letting go. “Happy 2020, Adena. I’m so glad we have been hanging out more lately. I really enjoy your company. You are the one person that truly gets me and my crazy nature.”

“Happy New Year, Kat. I’m glad to hang out, too. And, I’m happy to help your craziness any time.” Adena chuckled and her eyes glinted.

Kat glanced over her shoulder towards the kitchen and saw Sutton giving Richard a long hungry kiss, then hold up her champagne glass and crying, “Happy New Year, babies!!!” She definitely looked a bit intoxicated to Kat. Sutton turned her face and quickly made eye contact with Kat, pulling Jane by the arm straight to her and Adena. She forced them all into a group hug.

“Big hug! This year is gonna be special, I know it girls,” Sutton said, looking at Kat and then Adena.

Kat was glad Jane eventually pulled Sutton away by the hand to go back to their respective men, leaving her alone at Adena’s side. This gave Kat the opportunity to have Adena’s full, uninterrupted attention. She leaned closely asking, “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions, Adena?”

Adena smiled and started to speak but between the music, noise makers, and all the people yelling and laughing, Kat could not hear her. “Hey, grab my hand and let’s go out to the quieter patio,” Kat said, gently holding Adena’s warm hand. She turned the terrace door handle and pulled them both outside. Since it was a cool night, Kat walked them over to sit under the tall heater. The girls sat close and directly across from each other, knees almost touching. “Here you go Deena, throw this fluffy blanket over your shoulders and legs, and I’ll do the same.”

“Okay, thank you Kat.” Both women snuggled up under their individual wool covers.

“Sorry Adena, I couldn’t hear you inside over the noise. What were you saying about your New Year’s resolution?”

Adena leaned forward in her chair towards Kat, answering “Well, this....” She closed her eyes and kissed Kat softly on the lips then pulled back a bit, keeping their noses touching.

It took Kat only a second to register what had happened and it was absolute fire. She wrapped her arms gently around Adena’s back and reintroduced their lips. In the brisk night air, the kiss felt glorious and warm. Kat felt a surge of confidence, so she reached over and pulled Adena by the hips forward, onto her own lap. She whispered, “C’mere,” right into the artist’s mouth. Adena stood up and took a step towards Kat, letting her blanket drop to the ground, and sat on top of Kat. Kat felt immediate arousal by the weight of Adena’s body on her lap....”Oh fuck, Deena,” she uncontrollably whispered out. Kat enveloped Adena with her blanket and held her tightly by her shoulder blades. They continued their languid kisses, moving their heads slowly side-to-side. Adena’s hands moved up to stroke the baby curls on Kat’s nape, making her feel like putty. So she ran her warm tongue over Adena’s lips to tease back, causing a quiet moan to escape the artist’s mouth. A red flush soon formed on Adena’s face as Kat started to place open mouth kisses along her jaw and under her earlobe. “Mmmm....Kaat....I’ve missed this so much,” she whispered with hot breath against Kat’s neck.

Kat began inserting her hand under the back of Adena’s cardigan, finding soft warm skin, but the mood was interrupted when the patio door suddenly opened with a squeak and Adena sat straight up, pulling her neck away from Kat. It was Patrick and David, both wearing coats, stepping to the opposite end of the patio to also kiss.

Both girls snickered quietly and Adena murmured, “Popular spot for midnight necking.”

“Yes it is.” Kat looked up straight into Adena’s sultry eyes, “I really like 2020 a lot, so far.”

“Me too, Kat.”

Kat loved how Adena’s beautiful dark eyes mesmerized her, and she confessed, “Adena, I’m ready to try again if you still want to.”

The red hot coils from the heater made Adena’s eyes glow, as she gazed back into Kat’s eyes. She placed both hands on Kat’s cheeks and pulled their foreheads together, responding, “Me too, baby. Me too.”

Kat gave Adena another kiss. “Let’s go back inside and grab our stuff. I think I want to leave the party.”

“Yes, let’s go home.”

- - - - -
Inside the condo, the crowd was starting to mellow. Richard turned down the music so people could have civilized conversations instead of shouting at each other. A group of people found Richard’s old Pictionary boardgame and started playing in a corner of the living room. Sutton started clearing the dining room table of empty food containers and Jane stepped in to help her.

Looking around the rooms, Jane inquired, “Where’s Kat?”

“Hmm, I don’t see her....or Adena,” Sutton replied with her hand over her chest. “Do you think they went upstairs or are in one of the bedrooms...gasp!”

Just then they turned and saw Kat and Adena entering from the terrace, holding hands.

“Ooh-la-la, look at them, Jane,” Sutton pointed with her nose, as her hands were full.

Adena released Kat’s hand, “Baby, I’m going to go use the bathroom. Be back soon,” and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.

That gave Kat the opportunity to go over to her pals and announce they were leaving. “Hi guys! Fun party, but....Adena and I are going to go.”

Jane gave her a coy look with a raised eyebrow and said, “Oh?”

“Oh no, no, no. I won’t have it.” Sutton declared. “You guys are all set up in one of the two guest bedrooms upstairs. There’s a comfy King sized bed in one room with your name on it. Plus there’s a big bathroom right outside the door. No one will disturb you. And Richard and I can’t hear anything from our downstairs Master. You’ll thank me in the morning...’er, afternoon-nish.”

Kat took the opportunity to tease her inebriated friend. “Are you sure you won’t hear me moan from upstairs? I can be pretty loud, Sutton.”

Kat saw Adena walking back towards them and figured she had heard what had just transpired, from the look on her face. Adena quickly pulled Kat away by the hand to the walk-in kitchen pantry to talk.

“Kat, I don’t want to have sex.”

“Oh? Oh, sure....o-okay. No worries. I was just teasing Sutton and Jane. It was just a joke and - -“

Adena waved her right hand by her face to cut Kat off. “Let me rephrase that. I DO want to have sex with you. Just not tonight. I think we should take it slow this time and be in the moment. Continue dating and seeing each other outside of work. Talk about things and make it really special when we cross that line.”

Kat pulled Adena into her body by her waist and looked softly into her eyes, “Ok baby, I will respect that. As long as I can be with you, I’m content.” Adena nodded and smiled, and Kat looked up to the ceiling briefly smirking. “Well...we could go home and make out like a couple of horny teenagers tonight. That would be very nice, too.”

Adena chuckled and hugged Kat tightly, kissing her gently. “Yes, let’s go do that. But I still want to leave this party and go back to my place. I want you all to myself, okay?”

“Okay. I actually brought an overnight bag to Suttard’s, so I’m good with going to your place instead of mine. Let me grab our stuff and go convince the girls that we’re leaving.”

Kat grabbed their coats, purses, and her overnight bag out of the hall closet. Walking over to Jane and Sutton alone to talk, she explained, “So guys, we are going to go home. I really appreciate the offer to spend the night, Sutton, but Adena didn’t come prepared with her change of clothes and prayer stuff.” All three friends nodded and Kat opened up her arms wide and Jane and Sutton walked in for a hug.

“Bye Kat, we love you heaps and heaps,” Sutton said in a too-loud slurred speech.

“Good luck with Adena, Kat. You know we love you both.” Jane kissed Kat’s cheek and waved to Adena who was near the stairs.

Kat and Adena waved goodnight to the other party guests and soon were headed to Brooklyn in an Uber.

- - - - -
In the car ride, they sat in the back seat holding hands and stealing quiet kisses every so often. Kat felt intoxicated with the feel of Adena’s body so close and the floral fragrance of her perfume. She couldn’t keep her eyes and lips off of Adena, and felt the feeling was mutual.

The older female driver snuck a couple of looks back at them over the rear view mirror and let out a chuckle. “Looks like love’s in the 2020 air,” Kat heard her say. But the girls didn’t care and continued kissing and snuggling.

They were briefly interrupted when Adena felt her phone vibrate in her purse. “Oh, let’s see who that is so late.” She fished it out to read a text massage.

Lilly:
Happy New Year, Adena dear ;)

Adena grinned and showed the message to Kat. Then tapped out a quick reply.

Adena:
Happy New Year, Lilly ;)

Chapter Text

“Happy New Year, kids! Don’t do anything your mother would cry about,” the feisty Uber-driver said, as Kat closed the car door behind her and Adena.

“Thank you and Happy 2020!” Kat responded with a wink. The blue Corolla zoomed away and Kat chuckled at Adena.

As they approached the building’s front door, the heavy metal door suddenly swung open with a loud bang, startling the girls. Two young couples staggered out onto the sidewalk in front of them, holding beer bottles wrapped in paper bags. One of the guys shouted, “Best mother fuckin’ party, dudes!”

“I love the vitality of New Year’s in NYC,” Kat gibed.

“There is a lot of....zest, in NYC,” Adena snickered back.

Inside the lobby they were met by another couple passionately making out, pressed up against the mailboxes. Kat whispered in Adena’s ear, “There’s definitely something in the air....or in your building’s water, Deena.”

Adena smiled and rolled her eyes, grasping Kat’s hand and tugging her inside the stairwell. “Kat, I think it’s more like in the alcohol they’ve consumed tonight.”

The wooden door closed behind them and Kat stopped and pulled Adena back towards her, holding her close. “Well, this is probably the first New Year’s I’ve been sober since age 18, and I can tell you I like my status at this moment.”

“Oh....how so, beautiful?” Adena’s eyes moved about, surveying Kat’s face.

Kat closed her eyes and inched her lips towards the artist’s painfully slow. Adena met hers with parted lips and Kat pulled away right after they lightly brushed together. “I think you know why.” Kat was planning on keeping her promise to take things slow this time, and be in the moment. She too recognized the importance of making their reconciliation very special, not just making it about sex and quick gratification. This was something she had discussed thoroughly with her therapist, and this was something she knew also meant a lot to Adena.

Adena’s pupils were dilated when Kat opened her eyes to gaze at her. “Baby?” Kat questioned, as a tear escaped out of the corner of one of Adena’s eyes and Kat reached up to catch it.

Kat smiled. “Adena El-Amin, have I ever told you how gorgeous you are?”

Adena gave her a small smile back, “Uh-huh,” and her bottom lip quivered.

Lacing their fingers together, Kat continued. “Have I ever told you I fell under your spell from the moment you came into Scarlet looking for me and demanding to know why I was so misunderstood?”

“No. I thought it was later that night.”

Kat disregarded her reply and continued. “You were so damn hot. After we talked shop and saw that vibrator focus-group in the conference room, and we stood by the elevators, I wanted to take you into one of the lifts and kiss you all the way down to the lobby.”

“Oh?” Adena chuckled with amazement. “But you didn’t like girls, remember.”

“That’s what I thought, until I met you. You woke this....this, internal fire in me that I did not understand. You made me suffer some crazy-inner conflict from that moment on, Ms. El-Amin. I just couldn’t stop thinking about you, day and night. And that’s why I came up with that absurd idea of giving you free dildos to take to the Middle East. It was totally a ploy to see you again.”

“Hmm, yes that was an insane thing for me to do. I was very fortunate to get out of that situation without harm. I’m so grateful for that.”

Kat gave Adena two quick pecks on the lips. “Me too, baby. I felt so helpless and devastated when Firuze called me to say you had been arrested because of my stupid idea.”

Adena shook her head rapidly, caressing Kat’s cheek. “No, no Kat. It was my stupid idea to take the contraband home. I knew better, but I did it.” Adena shrugged her shoulders and Kat dropped her head downward. Adena lifted Kat’s chin back up to look into her eyes. “I too fell into that spell you are talking about. You were....are beautiful, and had this magnetism, seductiveness, and rebellious nature....I never felt that way before, either. The minute you left my studio that first encounter, I was done.”

“Huh? But you’ve been in love before and have been in a lot of relationships?”

Adena opened her mouth to answer, then closed it and took a cleansing breath. “Yes. But those experiences became minor after I fell for you. Kat, I have never felt so deeply in love before.” Adena looked at Kat with piercing, honest eyes.

Kat swallowed a lump in her throat and became uncomfortably nervous at Adena’s revelation, releasing her hold. “Um?”

Adena reached out with both hands and took Kat’s. “Listen, is okay. Everything’s going to be okay. Let’s get upstairs and we can discuss some ground rules. Things we can decide and agree on to make this work, before we take this further. It’ll make it equally comfortable for both of us, and I promise we’ll take it slow this time. Okay?”

Kat shook her head, “Okay.”

- - - - -
Upstairs, Kat entered Adena’s studio apartment, kicking off her shoes by the door. She hung up her purse and coat on wall hooks, and placed her overnight bag on an adjacent chair. Seeing Adena’s new place for the first time, Kat noted, “ Believe it or not, I like this place better than that fancy, multimillion dollar condo from May. This is so much more you....cozy and inviting”.

“Well, I like being called cozy and inviting.” Adena grinned and laid her house-keys down on a small console table by her purse, kicking off her shoes by the door. Kat helped her out of her coat, hanging it up for her, then embraced her from behind, kissing and rubbing her neck with her nose.

“Mmmm!” Adena moaned and turned back in Kat’s arms, grabbing Kat gently by her face and locking lips together. Their kiss started slow, tongues brushing, but quickly became passionate and hungry. It had been seven months since the two women had been physical with each other, and the lust and desire was excruciating. Kat immediately acknowledged she was going to have trouble keeping it slow, and slipped her hand under Adena’s shirt, gently stroking her left breast over her bra, and grinding her pelvis against Adena’s hips. Adena broke the kiss panting, “Kat....remember, we are keeping this PG-13.”

“Yeah, okay.” Kat pressed their foreheads together. “But remember with PG-13....some material may be inappropriate for children.” Kat said with a cocky smirk.

Adena laughed, “You’re so silly,” and patted Kat’s cheek. She reached up to unravel her hijab, and stepped backwards to her console again to neatly lay it down. Kat watched as she unpinned and shook out her long, wavy hair.

“I really like you with long hair.”

“Thank you....You look like you could use a cold glass of water?” Adena questioned with a grin, glancing at Kat in the reflection of the mirror above the console.

“Make it extra cold for me, please,” Kat joked back. She followed Adena to her kitchen area and stood on the other side of the small kitchen island, watching her reach into one of the cabinets for two glasses, then into the fridge for a pitcher. Kat admired the artist’s curves as she briefly bent over. Adena filled the glasses and handed Kat hers. They both stared silently at each other and sipped the chilled liquid.

Kat’s senses were heightened as she observed how Adena licked the excess water off her plump lips and her neck vein pulsated. Adena brushed Kat’s curls away from her face with the back of her fingers, “Why don’t we go wash up and change into our pajamas. We can then snuggle in my warm bed?”

“I like to snuggle. In fact, snuggle is my middle name,” Kat responded, holding Adena’s hand and pulling it away from her own face.

“Uh-huh, Kat Snuggles Edison....I like the sound of it.”

“And yours is - -“ Kat put her drink down and strolled over to Adena’s side, pulling at her waist and smiling....”Adena Sexy El-Amin.”

“Ooh, I truly like the sound of mine, too.” Adena stood on her tiptoes and pecked at Kat’s lips.

“Me too,” Kat answered burying her face in Adena’s hair, inhaling the clean fragrance of her shampoo.

“Tee-hee, that tickles!” Adena squirmed, then she broke away from the hold. “Here, bring your bag and let’s go brush our teeth and change.”

- - - - -
Kat finished getting ready for bed first and waited for Adena under the covers. Adena finished and turned all the apartment lights off and lit a set of candles by her bed. As Adena approached, Kat lifted the duvet up and Adena crawled underneath. She laid facing Kat and the two women gazed intimately at each other. Their legs touched and tangled, and soon they were embracing and passionately kissing, mutually eager for more.

For the third time tonight, Kat felt the warm feeling of arousal engulf her genitals. Both girls were starting to breath hard and their hearts were racing. Kat wanted nothing more than to rip her own clothes off and take Adena’s pants down. But she showed great restraint. “Oh Deena, I need to take a break.” Kat panted out on Adena’s shoulder and rolled onto her back, pulling the artist on top of her.

Adena laid her head on top of Kat’s chest and they embraced. “Your heart is going a mile a minute,” she giggled.

“Yeah, you do that to me, babe.” Kat held Adena for a couple of minutes, eyes closed, trying to calm her breathing down. But then another surge of lustful energy hit her and she flipped them over, laying back on top again. She scooted down to eye level with her partner and began soft, open mouth kisses on her face, chin, and jaw.

“Mmmmm,” Adena moaned into the air. She gasped loudly as Kat applied pressure with the top of her thigh to her groin. “Ohhh Kat!”

Kat broke the kiss and with labored breath confessed, “Sorry baby, this is a lot harder than I figured it be. I want you so bad I want to scream.” She buried her head in Adena’s neck and the artist stroked the soft baby curls on her nape.

“Is okay....is very hard for me, too,” Adena sighed. “Look, maybe we better just try and go to sleep? It’s after 3 AM,” Adena announced.

Kat slid off and Adena turned to face her, both heads sharing a pillow. Kat softly caressed Adena’s cheek with her fingertips and Adena drew circles on her hip. Although they were enjoying the quiet and intimacy, trying to fight sleep off, their eyes soon grew heavy. Adena turned her back on Kat, pulling Kat’s arm over her. Kat’s chest was snug on Adena’s back, flat palm on smooth stomach, spooning Adena until they both fell asleep.

- - - - -
Kat slept into the late afternoon and awoke when she heard loud thumping coming from the apartment above. She reached over behind her to feel for Adena, but the bed was empty. The alarm clock on the nightstand read 1:09 PM, so she sat up listening for any signs of life around her, but the apartment was quiet. Throwing off blankets, Kat hopped out of bed, strolling to the other side of the ornate partition separating bedroom and living room. There she found the artist silently praying by the couch. Kat watched captivated by Adena’s aura of beauty, but didn’t want to disturb, so she quietly turned and headed to the bathroom, gently closing the door. Minutes later, she plopped back into bed and looked at social media on her phone, until Adena finished up.

“Hey,” Adena said in a breathy voice, peeking around the divider. She had on the most gorgeous smile Kat had ever seen. She also had camera in hand and snapped a couple of quick photos of Kat.

Kat dropped her phone on the mattress and stretched out her arms. “Hey beautiful photographer. C’mere and kiss meee.”

Adena chuckled and crawled from the foot of the bed on all fours, over to Kat, snapping another picture and laying the camera on the nightstand before peppering kisses on Kat’s face. “Mmmm, well good morning to you, too. You smell like fresh mint.”

“No morning breath for my baby.” Kat pulled down on Adena’s back and she collapsed on top of her. “What do you want to do today....besides maybe, this?”

“Umm, I’ve nothing planned. But we can bundle up and go ice skating at the Rockefeller’s Skating Rink, if you want.”

“Ok?” Kat looked up to the ceiling in thought. “There’s lotta stuff open round there, we can go investigate after skating.” I read it’s also ‘National Bloody Mary Day’ if you like tomato juice. They can make you the best virgin drink at this jazz bar I know in TriBeCa.

“Orrr....we can go to the American National Museum....is open. And you can take me afterwards to the jazz club dancing.” Adena giggled.

“I don’t care, as long as I’m with the most beautiful woman in the world,” Kat said with a stars in her eyes.

“Wow, aren’t you the most charming girlfriend ever.” Adena paused and waited for Kat’s reaction to that re-emerging label of ‘girlfriend’.

Kat’s mouth curved into a big smile, “Yeah....yes! I am...the 2nd most...charming girlfriend...on the planet...after MY girlfriend.” Kat accentuated between words with a kiss to Adena’s face. “Have you ever met her?” Kat now became more serious in her tone of voice, “She’s this beautiful Persian princess who also happens to be a photographer in town. I’ll introduce you some day.”

Adena blinked down at Kat with a flirty look on her face, “I’d like that! Now....let’s eat a healthy snack first, then get ready to go out.”

- - - - -
The girls spent their afternoon out and about in the City. They ice skated and ate at their favorite vegan bistro, Blossoms, where Adena bumped into an art manager who also knew Coco professionally.

“Adena dear, how have you been? You are gorgeous as ever and life seems to be treating you divinely. Just look at you!”

Adena stood up and they hugged. “Ah, thank you Mauricio! I am terrific. This is my girlfriend Kat Edison.” Adena reached back to touch Kat’s shoulder.

The man seemed to be taken aback to hear Kat was Adena’s girlfriend. “Oh, well hello there. Nice to meet you.” He extended his limp hand out to Kat to shake.

“Hi, nice to meet you also,” Kat politely answered.

He gave a crooked smirk and looked back up at Adena. “I was just mentioning your name to the Vanguard Gallery last week, dear friend. Was wondering where you were off to and what great things you were working on.”

Adena replied happily, “I’m actually working for Scarlet Magazine now....I was hired as their full time in-house photographer close to six months ago. Kat also works there.” Adena gestured back over to Kat and gave her a warm smile.

Mauricio also turned towards Kat with a questioning look. “Are you a photographer’s assistant or a model?”

Kat huffed, “Gosh, no. I’m the Social Media Director for the woman’s magazine.” Kat was starting to sense this guy was a bit rude.

“Terrific! You must be attached at the hip to the internet. I dated your type once.” He mocked and rolled his eyes, then turned his attention back to the photographer. “Adena, that’s surprising. You in a 9-to-5 job? I never would have imagined it. I hope you’re finding some solace in that monotonous environment.”

“Yes Mauricio, I’m very happy there. And very happy with Kat.” Adena sat back down at the table and reached over to hold Kat’s hand to prove a point. She was getting impatient and annoyed by Mauricio’s comments about her job and girlfriend.

Mauricio gave both women judgy looks and a small nod. “So, I actually got in touch with Coco last month to see if she was in town. I am looking for a gallery or venue for a new up-and-coming Greek artist. I was hoping she’d assist me with that, as she is one of the smartest and finest art curators around. But, I don’t have to remind you of that, Adena dear.”

Adena replied unenthusiastically, “Um-huh,” and felt Kat adjusting in her seat.

“But, sadly, she mentioned she’s done with New York City. Imagine that?” Mauricio places his hand on his cheek and rested his elbow on his crossed arm.

The man intermittently stared down at both girls while waiting for Adena’s response. “Okay.....well, you’ll find a place. Here’s a wonderful contact for you.” Adena dug through her handbag and gave Mauricio one of Firuze’s business cards. “You’ll love working with Firuze because she’s professional, not moody, and also has a ton of contacts in town.”

Mauricio was taken aback by Adena’s passive-aggressive comment directed towards Coco. “Yes, I know who this Firuze is. Um, very well.” He put the card in his corduroy blazer pocket, “I best bid farewell because I have people to see and places to go,” Mauricio declared, nodding at both women, waving and turning around to exit the restaurant.

“He was a rude S.O.B. Where’d he crawl out from?” Kat asked Adena with her forehead furrowed.

“Yeah, Mauricio is a piece of work. But, believe it or not, he’s highly admired in the New York art world.” The artist sensed Kat was not happy with the mention of Coco’s name, so she reassured Kat. “Don’t let him get to you. He can be a jerk. He likes to push buttons.”

“And why did he have to throw out Coco’s name like that? She’s always haunting us.”

Adena paused and looked down at the table and picked at her fingernail. “They always worked well together, two psychopaths who are very good at their trade.” Adena looked back up at Kat and they both broke out laughing.

“Now that you put it that way, I get it,” Kat snickered.

Adena covered her mouth with her hand to regain her composure, then gave Kat’s hand a reassuring squeeze and quick kiss.

“For sure. Let’s get the tab and go look at some Holiday light displays in Dyker Heights before they are taken down.”

- - - - -
After perusing the City’s bright ornate lights, the girlfriends decided to call it an early night. They were both still exhausted from the previous night’s party at Sutton and Richards, plus all the nerves and tension that came with their reunion as girlfriends.

“Hey, let’s swing by my place so I can pick up another change of clothes and my bathroom gels and lotions before returning to Brooklyn.”

“-kay, baby. I’d like that since I haven’t seen your place in so long.”

Arriving at Kat’s, Adena felt somewhat emotional to see it again. It had been seven months since she last stood inside the loft, and that was when their relationship was in a state of limbo. “Your place hasn’t changed a bit,” she chuckled.

“What can I say, I’m a predictable gal,” Kat replied finishing up her packing.

“Kat, can we just sit here for a bit and discuss ground rules for our relationship?

“Oh....okay, let’s do that.”

Kat dropped her duffel bag by the entry and walked towards her table, pulling out one of her kitchen chairs and sitting down. Adena joined her.

“So, I’ve been thinking a lot about this.” Kat saw Adena swallow hard and got a bit anxious about what was coming. Adena sensed her stress and held out both of her hands over the table for Kat to hold onto. “Hey, no need to worry, Kat. Take a deep breath with me....come on. Nothing bad I promise.”

Kat breathed in deeply and exhaled. “Okay.”

Adena winked and smiled, “Good. So.... I just wanted to say that I’m 110% committed to making our relationship work and happily flourish - -“

“Me too!” Kat interrupted and Adena gave her a wide smile.

“That’s wonderful, baby. This time I think we should take it slower, keep separate apartments, have open communication, go on dates, etc. You know, not rush into anything. We can make a pact never go to bed angry or upset about an issue, no matter how great or small that issue may be, even if it means losing or not getting any sleep. I want to also respect your space as much as you will respect mine. Sound fair?”

Kat nodded in agreement and added, “Be exclusive and all in. No more open relationships or cheating.”

Adena pressed her lips together, “Yes all in, because neither of us work if we do this halfway. And if one of us ever feels stifled or attracted sexually to another person, we need to be honest and talk about this, no matter how hard it will be.”

“Yes. I love you so much, Adena. I never want to make those same stupid mistakes I made in the past.” Kat rubbed both her thumbs over Adena’s hands.

“Okay, we’ll make new mistakes. But this time we’ll work them out together. No more keeping anxious emotions to myself, or double guessing. I promise.”

“I promise, too.”

The women stood up and embraced, kissing and letting go. They pushed their chairs in and walked towards the exit. Kat grabbed her bag and opened her loft door, turning off the lights. They hailed a cab outside the building and returned to Brooklyn for the night.

- - - - -
A five a.m. alarm went off signally it was time for early morning prayers. Kat felt the mattress shake and a cool breeze of air when the duvet lifted up. But she quickly fell back asleep.

When Adena returned to the warm bed, Kat instinctively spooned her from behind, as the mattress dipped down from the weight of Adena’s body. The two were soon back into peaceful slumber and didn’t move from their positions until Kat heard some children yelling in the hallway just beyond their door. She lifted her head and saw it was close to 10 on the nightstand clock. Kat’s head dropped back down on the pillow and she kissed and nuzzled into Adena’s shoulder blades, causing the woman to stir awake.

“Mmmm, good morning sleepy head,” Kat cooed. She was enjoying the feel of Adena’s rump against her pelvis as she held her.

“Morning beautiful,” Adena smiled, then her stomach grumbled loudly.

“Ha, I’m going to get up and make us coffee and breakfast, Okay?”

Adena rolled over to face Kat. “No let me.”

“Nope, imma gonna make it for us. You just keep lying in bed all seductive and beautiful and I’ll come get you when it’s ready.”

“Okay, I just went shopping two days ago and there’s a lot of things to eat in my fridge.”

Kat kissed Adena’s forehead, nose, chin, and lips then stood and trudged to the bathroom. A few moments later Adena watched her walk back towards the bed. Kat stood in front of Adena for a moment and smiled. “You like what you see?”

Adena simply replied, “Always,” as she looked her up and down slowly, wetting her lips. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”

Kat giggled and bent over to pick up her T-shirt off the floor and gave Adena another kiss. She sat on the edge of the bed and slipped the article of clothing over her head. Adena sat up and hugged her from behind, licking and nibbling on her earlobe. Kat reacted by closing her eyes, “Mmmmm, baby....I’m not going to be able to cook for us if you keep that up.”

Adena whispered in Kat’s ear, “It’s hard to keep my hands off of you. You are so darn sexy. You got me under some kind of magical spell.”

Kat twisted her body and captured Adena’s mouth in a searing kiss, then released her. “Mmmm, the feeling’s mutual baby. But we can continue where we left off after we get some food in us.”

“Okay.” Adena pulled Kat’s head for another kiss and laid back down, allowing her to go cook.

Twenty minutes later, Adena woke to Kat hovering on all fours above her. “Your meal is ready, gorgeous.”

Adena smiled, “You’re spoiling me, you know.... But I like it.”

“Good to know. Come.... I have everything for us on the living room coffee table.”

Chapter Text

Kat yawned and looked at her watch. It was close to 10 PM and the office cleaning crew had long finished and gone home. She had officially been at work 14 hours and was beat, to say the least. Plus she had a head-splitting headache from looking at numbers, tables, and pie-charts for the last three hours. “Ahhhh, stick a fork in me cuz I’m done!” She shouted at her PC, shutting it off.

Kat tidied up her desk and put away all her work folders inside a drawer. She took out her cellphone and dialed Adena while reaching to the floor for her purse.

“Hi baby, you done?”

“Hi Dee! Listen, I’m gonna go crash at my place tonight, if you don’t mind. I have a terrible headache and I’m beat. I have to stop by the loft anyhow for my party stuff, so I’ll just hit the sack once I’m there.”

“No, no I don’t mind. You’ve been staying at work so late all week, Kat. I hope you made progress on your end-of-quarter report.”

“Yeah, I did. I’m so glad this stupid project is coming to an end.” Kat turned off her desk lamp and walked towards the elevators.

“Did you eat the leftovers I brought up to you before I left work? You know that’s why you get those headaches....when you don’t stop to eat lunch.”

“Yes, I heated it up and ate an hour ago. Thank you for that, by the way. It was really good Tahchin. I love you for your cooking, you know.”

“Oh? Is that the only reason?” Kat heard Adena pretending to be upset over the receiver.

“No Deena, I love you for many other things too.” Kat giggled then yawned. “AHHHHH.... I’m s-sorry.”

“S’kay, just be safe and text me when you get into your loft so I know you’re good. Bye-bye for now, love.”

“K, I will FaceTime you when I’m home. Bye love.”

- - - - -
Kat arrived at her Chelsea apartment and quickly kicked off her shoes and undressed, leaving the clothes in a heap on the floor, taking a sleeping shirt from her top dresser drawer to wear for the night. She sent Adena a quick text, so she wouldn’t worry, and promised to FaceTime once she was lying in bed. After using the bathroom and freshening up, she turned off all the lights and took out her cellphone. She FaceTimed Adena from under her soft covers.

“Hi gorgeous girl. Is your girlfriend gone?”

Adena giggled shyly at her iPad screen, “Yes....she’s left me all alone tonight.”

“Hmmm, that’s a crime....you looking so hot and sexy and you’re all alone.” Kat bit her bottom lip and gazed into Adena’s eyes on her screen. “Hey....why don’t you take your shirt off for me.”

“Ha! Kat don’t you have a headache?”

Kat held on to her head with her free hand and replied, “Ouch, yes! And it is really hurting, like having an axe in the base of my skull. Took some migraine meds and took out my contacts, so it should feel better in a bit.”

“Ohhh, poor baby,” Adena cooed. “I think you also need some sleep. So....no topless videos for you, tonight. You will feel better tomorrow morning, okay? Besides, those ‘special’ videos are only for when you go away on business trips.”

Kat pouted at the screen. “Okay babe. You always know what’s best for me. I’ll be lonely in this big....cold....bed without you.”

Although Adena and Kat respected each other’s private space, they both admitted to not being fond of sleeping alone anymore. They had officially been dating again for three months and things were really great between them. They were taking things slower this time, opening up to each other whenever they had any relationship concerns or fears, and it was all really paying off emotionally. Though they had not consummated their new union, choosing to wait and make it really special, they came close every time they were together in one of their apartments. Kat joked about having to do complex math equations in her head to distract her wanton desires, as she held a topless Adena tightly against her own chest. And, Adena always swore the next time they were going to keep their tops and bras on to facilitate with that matter.

“Remember Kat, be here tomorrow by 9:30 so we can make Sage and Donald’s on time. It starts at 11 AM but I want some time to take her candid photos with her bridesmaids. Oh, and I’ll have the present wrapped and ready when you arrive, so don’t let me forget it.”

“Great, then I’ll see you in the morning. Will message when I’m down in the lobby for you.” Kat pursed her lips and threw a kiss at Adena. “Sweet dreams my beautiful Persian princess.”

Adena blew a kiss back at the screen and Kat pretended to catch it. “Sweet Dreams, my beautiful Kat.”

- - - - -
The next morning, It was pouring cats, dogs, and every animal in between, and Kat swore Noah’s Ark would soon float by her apartment building. It was finally April and the Scarlet bunch had a wedding to attend. Sage was marrying her longtime boyfriend from college, Donald, on this wet Saturday morning in Queens.

The nuptials promised to be fun with lot’s of fruity drinks and dancing. Sage, although a bit eccentric and thrifty, was an entertaining person to be around and had promised her wedding would not disappoint. It was a bit of a Scarlet affair, with Jane as a bridesmaid, Alex a groomsman, Sutton designing the wedding gown, and Adena offering to take candid photographs at the reception to supplement Sage’s cousin Belkis’s professional photographs.

Kat woke up after eight o’clock finally headache free. She sat up and did a big stretch with arms in the air before padding over to her kitchen for breakfast, phone in tow. These days she didn’t keep much in her fridge since she mainly resided at Adena’s, but she always had the Kat Edison staples, as she called them, cereal, milk and coffee. She reached over the stove for a bowl and mug from her shelf and prepared her meal. Sitting down at her table, she snapped a selfie about to take a big spoonful of cereal into her mouth, and sent it to Adena with the caption, ‘Doesn’t compare to your hearty breakfast’.

She finished eating and stood by her kitchen sink washing her bowl and coffee mug, then stripped naked and hopped in her shower for a quick wash. Heading upstairs and getting into her party outfit, she stood in front of her full length mirror, feeling rather dapper in a new two-piece sleeveless, yellow pantsuit. Her hair was out of braids now so she fixed it up in a soft bun, knowing her long exposed neck was Adena’s kryptonite. She headed back downstairs and lathered her upper and lower limbs in sweet cocoa butter lotion and started her makeup. She smiled when she found Adena had responded to her breakfast message, ‘How’d you survive all these years without my blueberry pancakes?’ Kat answered back with kiss and pancake emojis.

Kat was putting on the final touches on her makeup and lipstick, when she heard her phone buzz with another text message. It was from Jane this time, to the group chat.

OT3 (JANE):
SOS!!!!!

KAT:
What up?

JANE:
Guys I just ripped my bridesmaid dress! :(

SUTTON:
Omg..how bad?

JANE:
About 3 inches by the zipper.

SUTTON:
No worries, I’ll fix it in the church dressing room
What color again?

JANE:
Mint...mint-y

SUTTON:
Sounds...refreshing! :)
I’ll bring needle and minty thread
C U in 45!

KAT:
Yeah...Super-Sutton to Tiny’s rescue!
See u all soon.

Kat finished primping and used the Lyft app to request a ride to Adena’s. Seeing the estimated pick up time gave her a few minutes to kill, she watered her parched houseplants and opened up some bills that came in the mail. When she saw her ride was about to arrive, Kat slipped on her pumps, grabbed her purse and large umbrella, and made her way downstairs to her lobby, ready for the festivities to begin.

- - - - -
“Where are you off to dressed so fancy in this terrible weather, miss?” The young female Lyft driver inquired.

“Gonna pick up my girlfriend and then to a morning wedding in Queens. Thank goodness the event is all inside or we’d be drenched,” Kat commented.

“Well, at least traffic’s light because everyone is staying inside this moist Saturday morn.”

“So true,” Kat replied and took out her phone to call Adena.

“Bonjour,” Adena answered sweetly.

“Hey Dee, I’m five minutes away in a white Prius.”

“Hey back. I’m ready and will see you soon.”

“Can’t wait to see how pretty you must look, ma’ lady. Stay inside your lobby and I’ll run up to the door for you with my big golf umbrella.” Kat turned and looked out the side window, “Man, it’s raining cats and dogs out here!”

Adena chuckled and hung up, “See you soon!”

Kat’s Lyft picked Adena up on the way to the nuptials. In the car, Kat stared at Adena, admiring her from head to toes. She looked so elegant and beautiful in her navy hijab, flowing navy blue floral print dress, and suede ankle strap heels. Kat was also enjoying the scent of Adena’s sweet perfume which permeated the back seat.

Leaning in close to the artist’s ear, Kat whispered, “You look so beautiful, Deena.”

Adena smiled, “So do you, babe.” She then leaned her head closer, resting her forehead in the side of Kat’s neck and said in a low sultry voice, “During the reception I’m going to pull you into a dark corner and kiss your neck.”

Kat’s plan, to make herself irresistible by showing off her neck, had worked. Looking straight ahead, she gulped and whispered back to Adena, “I’d like that very much. Would you like to know what I’m going to do to you later at home?”

She felt Adena turn her head slightly forward, but she remained quiet, holding Kat’s hand and lacing their fingers together for the rest of the ride.

- - - - -
When they arrived inside the building. Sage was waiting in an alcove near the hallway of the main room where the ceremony was taking place. She looked beautiful in her ivory gown and veil. She waved at Kat and Adena, who immediately took out her camera from her bag and tapped on Kat’s elbow. “Okay baby, I’m going to head inside with Sage and the others, and snap some photos. Grab us some seats and I’ll join you in like 15 minutes.”

“Okay, will do.” Kat pecked Adena on the lips and went to secure two seats together in the ceremony hall, while Adena went to see Sage.

When she entered the large room, she made a beeline for seats towards the front, next to Sutton and Richard. “Well hello stranger, long time no see!” Sutton greeted Kat as she sat down. “Look at you all yellow and gorge. Where’s your better half?”

“Hi Kat,” Richard leaned forward and winked.

“Hi guys, you both look fab too! My much-better-half went to take a few photos of the bride and her court before the service begins. She’s in full photographer-mode as we speak.”

“Oooh, those will turn out great, I’m sure. Some day she has to be my photographer.”

Kat wiggled her eyebrows at the blonde. “Oh, you telling me something new?”

“Ha! No, just a fantasy of mine, silly-willy.”

“Oh hey, were you able to fix Jane’s dress?”

“Yes, she’s all set and extra....minty,” Sutton snorted.

“Terrific! Can’t wait to see her, too.”

The harpist began playing and Adena scurried to Kat’s side while Donald and his groomsmen came out from the back, standing in their designated spots.

“Poor Donald, look at how nervous he looks,” Kat whispered to Adena and Sutton. Did you get all the pictures you wanted, babe?”

“Yes, and more,” Adena giggled.

Sutton chuckled quietly, “Look how dapper Alex looks in his tux...oh yeah! I’m taking a picture as blackmail material to use later.”

Sage came down the aisle flanked by both of her parents, and the short ceremony went on without a hitch. Donald was the only one that cried and everyone thought he was adorable. When Kat turned to comment about it to Adena, she saw that Adena was misty eyed too, “Oh babe, you’re my sentimental girl. C’mere,” and wrapped her arm around Adena’s shoulders.

Once the ceremony was completed, the guests were ushered into an adjoining room with tables and an open bar. Kat, Adena, Sutton, Richard, and Ryan sat at a table of eight with two of Sage’s cousins from Philly. Everyone got settled and waited for the wedding party to finish taking formal portraits before they’d join them all in the hall.

“I’m going to go with Jane and Sutton to the bar and bring you back a fancy treat,” Kat told Adena as she stood up and kissed the top of her hijab.

“Okay, sounds good,” Adena responded with a gentle pat to Kat’s cheek.

Kat soon returned with a virgin Piña Colada and a frozen Strawberry Daiquiri. “There you go, a virgin for you. I fIgured we should celebrate Sage and Donald’s fun nature with fun drinks, no?”

Adena clinked Kat’s glass, “You did well, Kat.”

- - - - -
An hour later, the reception hall was filled with music and laughter. Empty lunch plates were being cleared off the tables and the DJ invited everyone to crowd the floor and dance around Sage and Donald, playing a love song requested by the married couple.

“Come on Deena, let’s go dance,” Kat said encouraging her date to put down her camera and slow dance with her.

The attendees cheered when Sage and Donald finished the dance with a kiss, and many mimicked them, including Kat who gave Adena a soft kiss. The DJ followed up with another slow ballad and no one left the floor.

“Dee, you look absolutely gorgeous tonight,” Kat murmured in Adena’s ear as she held her closely by the hips.

“Hmm, you’ve already mentioned it a time or two, babe. So do you, beautiful.”

“I can see a lot of people staring at you, jealous that you are my hot girlfriend.”

“Hummm, you always know how to charm a girl, Kat.”

Kat pointed to Adena’s chest with her right index finger, and very seriously answered, “Only this girl. I only have eyes and heart for you, Adena.”

As Kat said those words, she gazed deeply into Adena’s dark pools of cinnamon-colored eyes, and felt like they were both looking into each other’s souls. The artist stared back and seemed entranced, as time suddenly seemed to slow down for Kat.

She embraced Adena tighter, swaying their bodies slowly to the music, and leaning her forehead on Adena’s, Kat confessed, “I love you so much. I too have never stopped loving you.”

The weight of Kat’s words caused Adena’s breath to hitch and her eyes to flood with emotions. They pressed their lips closer together and kissed slowly, not caring they were in the middle of a dance floor surrounded by a mob of people. The kiss was delicate and sweet and their chemistry was undeniable. It was only interrupted when the DJ came back on the mic and made an announcement.

“At ease, at ease. Sorry to bother all of you lovers having a moment on the floor, but at this time we need everyone to join our splendid Bride and Groom by the wedding cake.”

The crowd cheered and Kat took Adena’s hand and steered her towards the corner of the room where a three-tiered torte stood. Kat turned her gaze and caught Sutton and Jane watching them from afar, with Sutton blowing a kiss at them while Jane gave a discrete thumbs up. Kat smiled and nodded back to both of her buddies.

The rest of the afternoon went by nicely with a lot of alcohol consumption and dancing. Both Sage and Donald had big, boisterous extended families which made the reception a blast. Sutton was fortunate to catch the bouquet and Alex the garter. “Hmm, is it destiny?” Kat whispered to Jane and Adena, who both laughed.

The party ended around five o’clock and the couple got a ride back to Adena’s place from Richard and Sutton, in his big new Escalade. The rain had finally ceased, making everything glisten and anew in the streets of Brooklyn.

“Farewell, lovely ladies. Enjoy your weekend as much as we are going to enjoy ours!” Sutton yelled out the open window, while holding her hand and the bridal bouquet up high to the sky. As Richard drove off, he honked once.

Kat hollered back, “Bye Sutton and thank you for the ride, Richard!” Adena just waved. “I love those two,” Kat proudly said. “Come on Adena, let’s go inside and get into comfortable clothes. My feet are killing me.”

- - - - -
Once inside the apartment, Adena removed her hijab and both girls changed into sleep shorts and soft t-shirts, washing all their heavy face makeup off in the bathroom together. By now, Kat had a shelf in Adena’s walk-in closet where she kept her pajamas and other supplies, and some extra work outfits were on hangers.

Both ready to relax, the girlfriends snuggled into each other’s arms on the couch, and Kat asked, “Do you wanna watch a movie or something?”

Adena replied, “Or...something,” and pushed the remote control out of Kat’s reach. She immediately straddled Kat’s lap, pushing her back into the large Persian cushions.

“Hmmm, I do like this much better than Netflix,” Kat hummed.

Stroking Kat’s face with soft hands, Adena planted a French kiss on her luscious lips. It was deep and emotional, searching, and inferred there was more to come. Kat watched as Adena pulled her own t-shirt over her head and then hers, discarding both items on the floor, and exposing their bare chests. Kat reached up to gently caressed Adena’s breasts and pinched her erect nipples between her fingers, looking deep into her hooded eyes. “Ohhh!....Kat!” Adena breathlessly exclaimed.

At this moment, Adena had so much passion in her eyes, it made Kat blush and look down. She felt Adena’s fingertips pushing up on her chin to face her. Adena was looking at Kat with questioning eyes, and Kat kissed her forehead, declaring, “Trust me baby, I want this. I love you Adena with all my heart and being. I want to hold you and never let you go.” A tear rolled out of Kat’s eye as she uttered those words, and Adena wiped the teardrop with her palm, kissing across Kat’s face, down her jaw, to her collarbone.

Kat encircled Adena’s back and flipped them, laying Adena back on the couch. She propped herself on her elbows over her small frame, studying her expression. It was mutually evident that they felt overwhelmed with emotions and strong sexual desire. Adena replied, “I trust you too and this is all I ever wanted from you.”

Kat exhaled a breath she was holding and stood up, gently pulling her girlfriend by the hand towards the direction of the bedroom. With nothing but fire in her eyes, she told her, “C’mon, let’s go to bed.”

- - - - -
The lovers stopped at the foot of the bed and Kat hooked her thumbs on the sides of Adena’s pajama shorts, waiting for a reassuring nod, before yanking both shorts and panties down to Adena’s ankles. She straightened back up again to look into passionate eyes, nodding, and the artist did the same thing to Kat’s bottoms, dragging her fingertips back painfully slow up the sides of tan legs, to face Kat. Both women now held each other, naked and aroused, locked in a searing kiss. Kat’s heartbeat raced and she moaned, “Ohhh”, as she thought she’d melt into a puddle from the heat radiating off their pressed bodies.

Adena quickly broke the kiss gasping for air, and Kat moved down to nip at her chin and then at the thick exposed vein on her neck, causing the artist to whimper, lost in the moment.

“Lie down on your back, Adena,” Kat breathlessly whispered. Adena complied and Kat climbed on top of her and started grinding her hips. Moans filled the room as lips mashed together by the ornate iron headboard. Kat released Adena’s lips and quickly started descending towards Adena’s pelvis, leaving a trail of open-mouth kisses along the way. “Oh baby,” Kat panted heavily into Adena’s skin, “You are so....so, damn sexy! I think I’m gonna pass out,” she admitted, raking her short fingernails through soft dark pubic hair.

“I want you so bad, Kat Edison,” Adena confessed in a husky voice.

That was all the encouragement Kat needed, and she continued her descent. She momentarily stopped and put her hands inside Adena’s thighs, applying pressure to spread her open, lowering her lips onto Adena’s center....”Mmhmmm!” Kat revered.

- - - - -
Adena’s body suddenly went rigid. Her back lifted and arched, eyes were squeezed shut, and head was thrown back onto her pillow. Kat continued to suck then swirl circles on her clitoris with her tongue, listening for groans of pleasure, until Adena gasped loudly for air and cried out her name. Kat let up on stimulating her rigid knob and leaned down to gently lap softly at her labia, allowing Adena to ride out her orgasm as long as she needed.

When Adena’s back laid flat onto the mattress, Kat retracted two slippery fingers from inside warm, relaxed muscles, and wiped her chin on Adena’s thigh, waiting patiently for her lover’s breathing to even out. The heat of the moment and all those months of waiting and wanting Adena had culminated into tonight’s lust-filled encounter, and Kat was ready to deliver more. So she repositioned her head again over Adena’s center and parted her labia with her fingers, re-clamping her mouth to her clitoris.

“Ahhh....ohhh....b-baby!” Adena gasped and groaned, clawing at the fitted sheet underneath.

Kat fingered Adena again....moving in and out slowly....picking up the pace gradually. Adena reached and rested her hand behind her girlfriend’s neck for leverage, as she surely had the familiar feeling of euphoria building up in her center. She began wriggling her head over her pillow, moaning, hips gyrating and lifting in rhythm with Kat’s finger-thrusts. “Ohhh....I’m so close...”

“Mmhmm,” Kat moaned as she basked in Adena’s taste and scent, feeling her clit pulsate against her tongue. If you asked her, Kat would tell you she loved pleasuring her girlfriend as much as she liked getting pleasure back.

The way Adena was drawing in deep and heavy breaths, and the way her legs shook, Kat was pretty sure she had her on the edge of another big crash. As Adena took in one large breath of air, Kat lifted her eyes in time to witness her second orgasm rolling in. Adena’s mouth was agape, left fist still clasped tightly to the fitted bedsheet, and tears welled up in her eyes as she experienced great release. Kat could feel Adena’s sleek muscles clenching and contracting rhythmically around her fingers, and she didn’t let up on Adena with her mouth, until she again gasped for air.

Kat licked her lips and pushed Adena’s hips down with her free hand, pulling out her fingers to lightly glide them up and down Adena’s labia, allowing her to fully enjoy the end of her second climax.

- - - - -
When Adena finally opened her eyes, Kat had her head resting on one of her hips, looking up at her. The artist moved her hand and lovingly scratched at her scalp. Kat could see Adena was flushed and her legs shook sporadically for a while, even after her orgasm ceased. “Hey?” Adena called in a raspy voice, “Come up here and kiss me.”

Kat tenderly smiled. “You don’t want any more?” Kat knew that Adena could have multiple orgasms if she kept timing her ministrations correctly. In the past, Kat had enjoyed giving Adena such pleasure, to the point that her lover had begged Kat to stop after peaking numerous times in a row. It seemed the more she climaxed, the easier Kat could make her cum.

Adena chuckled and Kat felt her stomach vibrate under her head. “You’re so good to me. But I want to kiss you now, so come lie up here next to me,” Adena patted the pillow.

Kat pushed up onto her elbows and wiped her wet chin on the loose bed sheets, crawling up and collapsing next to Adena, who pressed their clammy foreheads together and caressed her forearm.

“I love you so much.” Adena wrapped her arm around Kat’s waist and joined their lips for a sensual kiss, rubbing their feet together when they parted. “Mmmmm, so good,” she smiled.

Kat reached down and pulled the nearby crinkled sheets onto both of their sweaty bodies, as the temperature in the room was beginning to feel chilly. “I love you so much too, baby,” Kat whispered back and reintroduced their lips, reaching over to gently scratch Adena’s firm bottom under covers.

The girls laid close together intimately leering into each other’s eyes for a while, until Kat saw Adena bite her lip and get a wicked grin on her face. She rolled Kat onto her back, straddling her with warm thighs, and began to run her hands up and down her breasts, drawing circles on her erect nipples. “Ahhhh, Deena, that feels...” Kat’s eyes rolled back into her head with pleasure, as she moaned.

“There’s so much I’ve wanted to do to you for so long,” Adena revealed.

“Please....please show me,” Kat begged.

Kat gasped loudly as Adena reached back, putting her hand between her warm center, sliding her fingertips through wet folds, slightly grazing over her clit with her thumb. “Just lie back like that, looking so sexy and beautiful....and I’ll show you.”

- - - - -
It was just past seven when Kat blinked her eyes open the next morning. Adena was spooning her from behind and they both were naked and warm under the sheets. Adena let out a small sigh on Kat’s shoulder and she smiled, untangling their legs and sneaking off to use the bathroom without waking her lover. On the way, Kat picked up the strap-on off the floor and proceeded to close the bathroom door. She looked in the vanity mirror and liked the woman she saw staring back. She was confident, happy, and madly in love. So different from that broken girl she saw last year in the same reflection.

Kat finished using the restroom and returned to the bedside with a clean silicone toy in hand, storing it back in the black wooden box under the bed. She climbed back onto the mattress and under covers, placing her forehead flush with Adena’s. Immediately Adena re-adhered herself to Kat’s warm body. It was all so natural and felt so right.

“Mmmm, good morning my love. You smell and feel so good.” Adena spoke in a raspy, sleepy voice, as her hands wondered over Kat’s soft skin. “What time is it?”

“It’s kiss-Adena’s-lips-some-more o’clock,” Kat responded and kissed her. “Hey?” Kat rubbed her fingertip on Adena’s chin dimple and she squinted her eyes open. “That was the most incredible sex we’ve ever had.”

Adena chuckled and took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “You’re incredible, Kat.”

Kat stared up at the ceiling and smiled widely, remembering the activities of the previous night.

Adena opened and re-closed her eyes, then gave Kat a deep kiss. “Mmmm,” Adena moaned. “Sunday mornings are my new favorite thing. I love you so much, Kat.”

“I love you so much too, baby.”

As the kiss continued, Kat thought about how her love had been right in front of her this whole time. How meeting and falling in love with Adena had been the best thing that ever happened to her. Despite their bout of heartbreak, it was all worth it in the end.

As their lips parted, Kat began kissing down Adena’s neck and sternum, stopping at her chest. “Um, Deena? Your breasts are covered with hickeys. I suggest not going to a topless beach anytime soon.”

Adena squinted her eyes open again and tickled Kat’s sides, eliciting loud laughter from her girlfriend. Yeah, Kat agreed too, Sunday mornings were pretty awesome.

Chapter Text

Kat was standing tall looking down at the pink hue of the sand between her manicured toes. “Ahhh....this is the life,” she muttered as she wallowed in the glorious feel of the ocean breeze against her face and the sound of the sea foam crackling under the waves, methodically rolling towards her feet over and over again. She heard her name being called from nearby and turned her attention in the direction of the voice. There, some five yards away, stood Adena wearing a tiny black crocheted bikini and large straw sun hat, smiling ear to ear and waving at her. Adena mouthed something to Kat but she was unable to hear her over the melodic lilting sound of reggae music loudly playing in the background.

“Babe?” Kat held up her hand and cupped her ear, as Adena moved up closer to her.

“Kat?....Kat!!” Adena repeated and pushed on her left shoulder.

Kat opened her eyes to a dark room and her phone alarm going off at 5 AM. Her bedmate was nudging her shoulder with her elbow to get her attention. She audibly complained, “Bah!,” turning onto her stomach and covered her ears with her hands, while Adena reached over her back to the phone on the nightstand, and tapped the snooze to momentarily stop the noisy disturbance.

Adena collapsed on top of Kat and dozed off for another 9 minutes, until the alarm blared the annoying tune again. She shook Kat to wake-up, getting her attention, “Huh?....ohhh....Okay,” she replied to Adena’s jolts, and turned off the alarm for good.

“Hmmm...good morning sleepyhead,” Adena murmured, rolling off Kat’s back and onto her own back. Kat turned over to face her. “You have to get up early for your meeting, so no more snoozing this morning,” she yawned and lightly scratched Kat’s belly where her t-shirt rode up.

“Uughh, why Jacqueline called for a seven a.m. Monday meeting is beyond me,” Kat grumbled, putting a fluffy spare pillow over her own head. “No one in their right mind has a meeting that freaking early!”

Adena clutched and moved the pillow off of Kat’s head and tossed it in between their bodies, peppering small kisses on her girlfriend’s face. “I’m going to get up to pray, babe, and put the coffee on for you.” She went to sit up but Kat grabbed her and pulled her back under the sheets by her waist. “Ayyyyeee, let me go!” Adena giggled.

Kat buried her face between the artist’s shoulder blades. “You know Dee, I was in the middle of the MOST wonderful dream.”

“Oh, and what was happening in this wonderful dream of yours? Let me guess, weee....weren’t wearing any clothes?”

“Mmmm....we were, unfortunately. But you were in a teensy-weensy black bikini. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. We were on a beach in the Bahamas with warm water at our toes and ocean breezes....ahhh! Then that very, very rude alarm ruined it all,” Kat pouted.

“Well, good thing because you have to get up now.”

“No, no. Five more minutes, please?” Kat pleaded and kissed Adena’s back.

“No Kat, you already snoozed the nine, and that was 10 minutes ago. You are going to be late, so hop in the shower....march!” Adena reached behind her and smacked Kat’s behind.

Kat groused but surrendered her tight grip on Adena’s torso, and the artist turned over and gave her a quick peck on the lips. Then she stood and ambled towards the kitchen, filling up the electric tea kettle to start the hot water. Kat sighed and threw off the bedsheets and shuffled to the bathroom. When Adena heard the shower running, she entered the bathroom, too.

“Hi!” Kat briefly peeked her head from behind the shower curtain when she heard the squeaking door open, and Adena met her with a smile.

“Hey, gotta pee. Sorry.”

“That’s fine. Afterwards, why don’t you join me for a quickie....um, quick wash?” Kat said wiggling her brows and disappeared behind the curtain.

“No, Kat. I have to go pray and you don’t have time to dilly-dally this morning. Jacqueline can’t be kept waiting. I’m surprised she hasn’t fired me yet for all those mornings you’ve made us late.”

The toilet flushed and Kat stuck out her head again, “How ‘bout a kiss, then?”

Adena washed her hands and gave Kat another fast peck on the forehead, turned around and exited the steamy room.

- - - - -
After morning prayers, Adena walked back into the kitchen just as Kat was dressed and ready to leave. She walked over to the table and took a bite out of the plated toast Kat was leaving behind, then walked up to Kat and kissed her cheek goodbye. “I’m going to shower and dress and I’ll see you later at Scarlet for mid-day tea break, okay?”

“Sure babe, see you then,” Kat answered pecking Adena’s lips back. “Hmm, I love that homemade fig jam you made for our toast.” Kat licked her lips and re-kissed Adena, swiping her tongue over the artist’s lips this time.

“Mmmm,” Adena moaned in reply, and pulled Kat in for a third slower kiss. “I’ll make some more next time I go shopping.”

“Woo! Ok, bye.”

- - - - -
Kat arrived in the office with a few minutes to spare and laid down her purse underneath her desk, powering up her desktop and iPad. She looked up and watched a small parade of coworkers enter the conference room next to Jacqueline’s office. There was Lauren, Oliver, Richard, Howard from Digital Design & Layout, Bette from Accounting, and Theresa from H.R. Kat grabbed her iPad and joined them all for the seven o’clock meeting.

Jacqueline strolled into the room with the confidence of the queen she is, right behind Kat. “Good morning people. You are probably wondering why I called this meeting here so damn early. No, it’s not because I’m a glutton for punishment.” Jacqueline walked over to the head of the table and sat down, furrowing her forehead and leaning forward, with her elbows up on the mahogany table. “I’m going to cut to the chase. There’s going to be a major announcement made at the Board’s 10 AM meeting later this morning. I wanted to talk to you seven directors and give you a heads-up, before all your subordinates arrived.”

Kat glanced over at the others in the room and everyone had a very serious expression. Jacqueline continued, “Patrick Duschand has resigned from his position of Head of Digital. Although he gave a four week’s notice, his position has been vacated immediately. The Board felt it was in everyone’s best interest to have Patrick leave now.” The conference room was dead silent and no one dared to speak, shocked from the news. “Kat, you look like you have a question?” Jacqueline motioned to her left, with her pen in hand.

Kat didn’t realize she was sitting in silence with her mouth wide open, in shock. She pulled her jaw closed, swallowing a big lump down in her throat and spoke, “Um, will we be recruiting for his position right away?”

Jacqueline snapped her fingers. “Good question, and the answer is...no. The Board has not said yet.” Jacqueline gave a tight lip smile and darted her eyes around the table. “Anyone else?”

Kat lifted her hand slightly off the table, “Where...where is he going?”

“He mentioned in his letter of resignation he has secured a position with a competitor and will be running their dot-com.” Jacqueline nodded her head once. “Anyone else?”

“I’m sorry,” Kat interjected again. “Does this have anything to do with the Pamela Dolan story leak from before?”

By now everyone at the table was staring directly at Kat with annoyed looks, like they were done with all of her inquiries. Jacqueline gave her a look and small smile and turned away. “If there are no further questions,” she arose and clasped her hands together, “you are free to go and I’ll see some of you on the 50th floor at 10. Thank you for now.”

Kat got up with her tablet to leave with the others, but Jacqueline asked her to stay. “Kat, you, Richard, and Theresa stay here for five more minutes.” Kat joined the other two back at the conference table, sitting down.

After the others cleared out, Jacqueline stood with her head outside the conference room’s glass doors and called out to her Administrative Assistant, “Andrew! I’ll have my cappuccino now, please,” then closed the door and sat back down.

“Kat, this is very confidential. It cannot leave this room for now.” The matriarch pointed her finger directly at Kat.

“Yes’m, I promise to keep it to myself.”

The blonde gave her a knowing look and sat down. “Okay. To answer your question from five minutes ago, the Board has not been very happy with Patrick’s work and his attitude for some time now, including the Dolan fiasco. But he was producing and they were giving him a chance to improve. In March he was given an ultimatum of 90-days to boost his output or find another job. He managed the latter and the Board wanted him out ASAP.”

“Okay....I see. I did report to him directly, so I hope my output and production isn’t in question, too?” Kat asked with incertitude.

“No, au contraire. The Board has reached out to me in reference to promoting you to Patrick’s position.” Jacqueline paused to let that information sink into Kat’s brain, who sat in silence with wide eyes. Richard and Theresa gave her a knowing nod. “In other words, the job is yours if you want it, Kat.”

“Wow, I’m....I’m really flattered and in shock about all this news. When...when will this be announced to all staff and when do I have to give you an answer with my decision?” Kat wheezed a bit.

“We will announce Patrick’s separation late this afternoon in an all staff email. But your promotion, if you choose to accept it, will not be made public until next Monday. So you will have until this Friday at noon to let me know if you want the position or not. If you don’t accept, Theresa’s group will start the recruitment process Monday morning.

Kat sat with three fingers playing with her bottom lip and her head nodding slightly at Jacqueline. “Okay, thank you and thank you to the Board so much for this opportunity. I will definitely let you know by Friday morning, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline smiled and waived Andrew in with her mug of coffee. “Thank you, Andrew. And Kat, you are free to go now. I need to settle some other work matters with Richard and Theresa now.”

“Great, thank you Jacqueline.” Kat gathered her materials, stood, and walked towards the glass doors, behind Andrew.

“Kat remember, mum’s the word on the Patrick discourse information. And, no leaking of your possible promotion until it’s announced next week, capisce?”

“Yes, of course,” Kat turned and quirked her mouth up. Then she pushed the doors and exited.

“Kat!” Jacqueline cried out and Kat turned and rushed back inside the conference room, again. “It’s okay to discuss your possible promotion with Adena tonight. She’ll be very happy to hear the news, I’m sure.”

Grinning widely, Kat replied, “Thank you very much, Jacqueline,” and walked to her desk with a spring in her step.

- - - - -
The elevator dinged and Kat saw Adena exit holding a large black binder. She waved at her and Adena signaled with her hand that she was headed towards Oliver’s office. Kat gave her a thumbs up and sat back down at her desk, waiting for her return so they could go downstairs and grab their mid-morning drinks.

Adena came back out and walked over to Kat’s desk, standing by her side. “Hi babe,” Kat greeted and rubbed her hip.

“Hello. I had to get that binder full of photo proofs to Oliver for his perusal and approval. So, you ready to take a break?”

“Yes, let’s go.” Kat grabbed her phone and rolled back her desk chair, walking to the elevator bay behind her girl. They hopped on the next available lift and Kat pushed the lobby button. They were all alone for the entire ride down 37 flights, and Kat took advantage of their brief time alone, pushing Adena against the railing and kissing her.

“Well, hello again!” Adena snickered. “You must have had a successful early meeting.”

The women walked up to ‘Baristas’ and bought two hot green teas, sitting down on the edge of the planter in a far corner of the open lobby atrium. “So babe, I’m going to whisper something in your ear, but promise to not over-react nor repeat it, okay?”

“Yes, sure. Now I’m really curious,” Adena’s eyes widened and she leaned forward.

Kat leaned in real close to her head and whispered, “Patrick quit his job.”

Adena’s mouth immediately dropped open and she was speechless. Kat nodded in confirmation and gently reached over to push her jaw up and closed. Adena let out a small “Whoa,” and she stared at Kat in disbelief.

“Yep. There’s going to be an email after four o’clock to announce it, so mum’s the word ‘til then.” Kat put her index finger to her lips.

“Ohh...kay...my lips are sealed, babe.”

“Let’s go back, I have to finish up some PowePoint notes for my early afternoon staff meeting.” The girls recycled their empty paper cups and got back in an elevator. As Adena exited the 35th floor, Kat held her back by the hand and said, “Oh, here’s one more thing I forgot to whisper into your ear.....I love you, hot stuff.”

Adena giggled and gave Kat a quick peck on the lips, waving goodbye as the elevator door closed between them.

- - - - -
By 4:15 PM the entire 38th office floor was in a buzz about the email they had received with the news of Patrick’s departure. Jane sent a group message, “Meet in FC ASAP!” and jumped up and out of her chair to follow Kat into the closet.

“Hey Jane. Sutton is not here. She had to go with Oliver to a B.S. happy hour publicity-thing at Bloomingdales.”

Jane grabbed Kat by the lower arms and smiled, “Holly fuck, Kat! I cannot believe the news!”

“Yeah, I thought you’d be ecstatic to hear your nemesis is gone,” Kat giggled and the two hugged merrily.

“It’s like f’ing Christmas in early June! Oh wow, I feel so relieved. The torture is over, my friend.”

“Yeet!”

“But, should we be worried? You know that saying, Kat, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t?”

“Nah, Tiny Jane. I feel it in my bones that it’s gonna be okay. We just have to have faith in Jacqueline and the Board.”

“Wow, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about the stuffy misogynistic Board of Directors. Is there something else you’re not divulging?”

Kat rested both her hands on top of the shorter woman’s shoulders, “Jacqueline’s had to endure Patrick’s wrath and shit like all of us, so I’m sure she’s going to be extra-careful with future staffing and recommendations to the Board.”

Jane’s phone vibrated in her hand. “It’s a text from Sutton. Here, look.” ’Can’t talk BUT OMGGGGGGGGGGG!’ The two friends chuckled and took a selfie hugging after they read the message, sending it to Sutton, then returning to their desks to wrap up their long work day.

- - - - -
On the way home from Scarlet, Kat and Adena stopped by their favorite Chinese restaurant and picked up takeout. Once home, and all washed up and changed into their pajamas, they plated the meal and ate over the coffee table, watching an old episode of ‘The Office’.

“Are you finished? Let me clean up and get us some ice cream,” Kat offered.

“Okay, there’s some coconut left-over, but also that new chocolate-caramello and a Pistachio I bought Saturday. You choose and surprise me.”

Kat returned with two bowls of the gooey chocolate stuff and joined Adena on the couch. “This is really good! And, hey, I have another surprise for you.”

Adena paused the show and turned to face Kat, “Oh yeah, what is it?”

Kat put down her bowl on the side table. “Well Adena, now that Patrick is leaving, Jacqueline has offered me his vacant position. It’d be a promotion.”

Adena put her bowl down too and squealed, “Ayyyyy, this is incredible news, baby. I’m so proud and happy for you!” She threw her arms around Kat’s neck and kissed her.

“Mmmm, thanks babe. I’m really happy too and very surprised the Board is considering me for this.”

Adena frowned and held Kat’s face. “Why? You work so hard for the Magazine and Jacqueline, and the Board knows this. Plus you are the next obvious person in line for Patrick’s job. So, yes, you deserve it.”

Kat smiled and pulled Adena closer, reintroducing their lips and swiping her tongue to gain access inside.

“Mmmm!” Adena broke the kiss, “Want to....celebrate?” She asked with a flirty tone, standing up and walking backwards towards the bed with Kat in tow.

- - - - -
“Oh....god!” Kat panted out as Adena moved back up her stomach kissing a path towards her lips. “So...sooo...good.”

Adena stopped at her sternum and laid on top of Kat, with her face buried in the curve of her neck. “I love you so much, Kat Edison.”

Kat embraced her tightly. “I love you so much too, Adena El-Amin.”

“I can’t believe my girlfriend is going to be an executive at Scarlet. I’m going to be so spoiled.”

Kat moved her fingers through dark, soft locks. “More money means more opportunity to buy you things and take you special places....like buying you a tiny black bikini and flying you to the Bahamas.”

“Hee-hee! Yes, your dream from this morning. Do you think you had a premonition?”

“Wow, yeah. Perhaps it was a subconscious sign. Kat laughed.”

Chapter Text

Kat had officially been promoted for just over a month, and her new job title was ‘Director of Digital and Social Media’ at Scarlet Magazine. The new position came with a hefty pay raise and small office with a door. Kat was more excited about the door part than the extra money, as she showed Adena her new office space one night in early June. “See babe, this....this is a door! Imma gonna have a door to open and close now, wow. No more sitting in the middle of a noisy room....hello privacy!” And Adena was ecstatic and very proud watching her girlfriend with twinkling eyes, as she closed the door behind her and started unpacking her two small boxes of knick-knacks onto her new desk and shelf.

“This, this is my prized possession and will sit right in front of me on my desk,” Kat commented, placing the framed photograph of her and Adena kissing, with Machu Picchu in the background. A kind tourist had snapped it with Adena’s Nikon D5 during their dreamy three-week excursion to Peru. Adena had developed the photo and placed it in a 5x7 vintage leather frame she had picked up in a Persian antic shop. She had gifted it to Kat for their six month re-connection anniversary.

“It’s lovely, my dear,” Adena replied, beaming up at Kat.

A few weeks after Kat’s promotion, there was another reorganization of the social media group and Kat was able to promote Angie Flores to Social Media Supervisor and hire a new person to assist the Latina with Scarlet’s Instagram and FaceBook pages. Angie was so grateful for the extra income, as she lived with her diabetic father and two little brothers and was the main breadwinner of the household. She was still dating Alex, but the relationship seemed to have cooled off a bit lately.

Jane and Sutton were doing well too, also extremely proud and happy for Kat. Richard was working out of San Francisco full-time and commuted to New York once a month for a four day ‘sex-crazed weekend’, as Kat put it. Sutton’s Mom had recently been hospitalized for a ruptured appendix with complications, and Sutton had taken a three-week FMLA leave of absence to go help her in Pennsylvania, while she convalesced. This was her first week back in New York City and she had a lot of work to make up.

Jane had started writing a book about three 20-something girls who meet in a downtown Chicago law firm and form an unexpected friendship. It was just a hobby, as Jane explained, to keep her busy at night while Ryan was away with his own book tour. It seemed like those two spent more time apart than together, these says, and Jane had commented once about their relationship being a bit rocky, but Kat did not pry any further for information.

Things at Scarlet Magazine had settled down, as much as possibly expected for a busy monthly woman’s publication, and Jacqueline was in full charge of the print and dot-com again. She was also being kept busy outside of her job since she had officially adopted her two young nieces after her brother and sister-in-law tragically died in a boating accident. The girls were 12-year-old twins who had always been very close to Jacqueline, her husband and sons, so the transition into combining families had gone smoothly, despite the tragic circumstances of the matter.

- - - - -
At a bit past 11, Kat’s stomach had started growling. Adena had brought her own lunch because she was going to have a very busy photo-shoot, taking all of her morning and running into late afternoon. But Kat had a somewhat light day at work and wanted to go out for a bite.

KAT/JANE/SUTTON (KAT):
Yo, got lunch plans?

JANE:
I’m free. Where?

SUTTON:
Rain check...sorry :(

KAT:
Hard Rock @ noon?
I need a burger

JANE:
Cool!

A short time later, Kat and Jane were waiting for a booth at the Hard Rock Cafe near work.

“Will Adena be able to join us later?”

“Nah, she’s knee-deep in prima-donnas and camera equipment.”

“Who’s she working with now?”

“Bella Nuit and Garth O’Dell. Two temperamental people with inflated views of their own talent and contrived importance.”

“The French diva and Country singer stud? That’s such a strange pairing...I don’t get the connection there.”

“Well Jane, you know they say opposites attract. Look at Deena and me.”

“What Do you mean? You guys have a lot more in common than you think.”

“Well, let’s see....she’s Persian, I’m a spoiled kid from Connecticut....she’s queen of patience, I’m short fused....she speaks four languages and I only know one....she’s a talented photographer and painter and I draw stick figures....and, so on.” Kat gestured with her hands.

“Now....let’s list the ones you have in common, shall we? Like, you’re both very intelligent, educated, bold women. You both have great careers and powerful positions. You are both beautiful, romantic, and madly in love with each other. Shall I continue?”

Kat stared into space with a goofy smile on her face, “Yeah, we are officially a gay power couple...to quote Sutton.” Jane chortled and took a menu from the side of the hostesses podium to look at lunch specials.

Once seated and eating, Kat asked Jane about Ryan and his book.

“So, how’s Pinstripe these days?” Kat raised her eyes to look at Jane as she answered her.

“Oh, you know, busy as a bee. He has been traveling the country and has about 20 more ‘Meet the Author’ stops coming up.”

“Hmm, where’s he at now?”

Jane shrugged her shoulders, “I think in Billings, Montana. It’s hard to keep track.”

“Oh. Do you guys still talk every night?”

“Most nights he’s too tired and he just texts me that he’s going to bed, or he’s out late with his publisher and assistant and can’t talk. So, the answer is....maybe.” Jane seemed a bit defeated when she spoke about Ryan so Kat decided to change the subject for now.

Kat nodded and took the last bite of her hamburger, wiping her mouth with a napkin. “Did you hear that Jacqueline wants me to interview Dua Lipa? She’s the new YSL Beauty Fragrance Ambassador and we want to feature her on Scarlet’s next digital issue. I’m excited because I love her bops.” Kat looked up to see if Jane was registering what she was saying.

“Is there anything else you ladies would like,” the waiter interrupted.

“I think we’re good, thanks,” Kat replied.

“Got some killer lemon meringue pie just out of the oven, ladies.”

“Jane, do you want to share a slice?” Kat offered, to try and cheer her buddy up.

“Yeah, let’s do it. One slice and two spoons, please,” the brunette requested.

- - - - -
In the taxi cab ride back to Safford, Kat asked Jane about a past relationship. “Hey, do you ever wonder what Dr. Ben is up to these days?”

“What?” Jane seemed annoyed by the question and gave a dirty look in return. “Do you still survey Tia?” She bit back.

Kat huffed, “It’s only an innocent question, Jane. You don’t have to get nasty. And, no, I don’t stalk Tia....I know she now lives in D.C. and is happily dating her old college roommate who’s an intern for some female senator.”

“Well, that sounds like stalking to me.”

Kat felt her blood start to boil inside but took a couple of cleansing breaths before responding. “She messaged me in February after seeing my relationship status on social media. She was very happy that Adena and I were dating again, and she also told me about her move and new job. I did find her new girlfriend on Instagram shortly after that, and that’s the end of it....okay?”

Jane closed her eyes and sighed, reaching over the back seat and clasping Kat’s hand. She turned to look at Kat with teary eyes and said, “I’m so sorry, babe. I’m shitty for snapping back at you like that. You know I didn’t mean you wrong. Please forgive me.”

Kat turned and looked straight ahead, out the cab’s front window, and released Jane’s hand. “Okay.” She was a bit hurt but she was willing to forgive her friend.

Jane continued her explanation, “It’s just that Ryan has been....distant lately. And, I don’t know what’s going on or how to fix things. So I took it out on you....and Sutton, too. She’s kinda pissed off at me right now. So it’s good she didn’t join us for lunch.”

Kat turned her head to face Jane. “Look, it’s okay, Jane. You know Sutton and I are here for you any time you need to unload or a shoulder to cry on. But please, don’t shut us out.”

“Yeah, I know.” Jane looked out her side window and wiped at her face. “Ben was such a great guy. I think he was marriage material and that scared me. I’m not ready for that phase in my life, yet. I’m still trying to figure out my 20’s, my BRCA health issues, and my career. It’s just all overwhelming and my relationship with Ryan sometimes is too much to handle.”

“Yeah, I know your plate is full my friend.” Kat reached over again and patted Jane’s hand. “So just live in the moment, as Adena always reminds me, and let things happen naturally. If Ryan is being a butthead then the hell with him. I know it’s easier for me to say since it’s not my relationship....and you know I’ve been in a tumultuous one before, but perhaps you should seek some counseling to help you. It really, really helped me face my demons and insecurities last Fall. And look at me now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been as an adult and I was able to be vulnerable and let Adena back into my heart.” Jane turned and looked at Kat with a small smile and understanding nod of her head.

“Okay, here you are.” The cab driver stopped and let the two girls out in front of the glass building. Jane held out a bill for the man and Kat yelled from the sidewalk, “Thank you!”

Jane stopped in her tracks before the entrance to Safford, pulling her friend in for a hug. “Thanks for the great lunch and pep talk, pal. I’m so happy you’re in my life, and I’m so happy for you and Adena.”

“I love you Tiny Jane.”

- - - - -
Kat spent the rest of the afternoon in various meetings. She did not see Jane nor Sutton again. When she finally returned to her desk, Adena had left a post-it note on her computer screen:

‘I’ll be done at 6 PM. Meet you in the lobby after and we can go eat somewhere. Love u! ~A’

Before leaving for the day, Kat walked into the Fashion Closet at 5:45 to return two silver necklaces she had borrowed for an Instagram post. There, she found her blonde friend in a frazzled state hanging up clothes. There were piles of cocktail dresses and stillettos strewn all over the carpeted floor.

“Hey, what up? I’m just returning these things before I leave for dinner with Adena. Are you doing spring fashun cleaning in here?” Kat asked in wonder.

“Aaaargh! I’m so friggin’ behind, I’m going to scream! If I don’t have all this organized and steamed for Oliver’s Los Angeles trip tomorrow, I’m basically at the unemployment office.”

“Oh no. So what time does Oliver leave for L.A.?”

“He’ll be back in the office at 7 AM to have us load these items in the van, then his flight leaves at 10:30 for LAX.”

“Okay!” Kat clapped her hands. “So we’re gonna make this happen together. Just tell me what you need me to do, cuz I’m staying as late as you need tonight. I can even message Jane to join us, if you want.”

“Aw, you’d do that for me? What about your dinner plans with Adena?”

“We’ll just reschedule. Adena will totally understand and will want me to stay and help you. I’ll just pay her later with extra....well, I’ll just owe her some extra kisses, is all.”

Sutton chuckled and hugged Kat, “I love you, my friend. And I thank the powers above every day that you and Adena reconnected. You guys are goals.”

“I love you too, Sutton.” Kat pulled out her phone and quickly called Adena, explaining the situation to her.

- - - - -
At almost 11 o’clock, Kat and Sutton finished steaming and bagging the last item for Oliver’s trip. Kat texted Adena as Sutton stepped out of the closet for a brief moment.

KAT:
Hey babe, I’m done and leaving in 10.
Love u!

Just as Sutton returned, Adena replied with a sexy selfie in bed. She was reading a book and only wearing Kat’s favorite ‘NYU Journalism Club’ t-shirt and blue lace panties.

ADENA:
K- baby. Can’t wait to see u soon!

Sutton saw Kat staring at her phone’s screen with a goofy face. “Awww, message from your sweety?”

Kat quickly closed out of the photo. “Yep, how do you always know?”

“Well for starters, you always have that goofy, I’m-so-in-love-my-feet-no-longer-touch-the-ground, look on your face.”

Kat giggled. “Yeah....that pretty much describes it. Have I mentioned what a wonderful woman Adena is, Sutton?”

Sutton grinned from ear-to-ear and patted Kat on the back. She really liked this happy version of for her friend. “Maybe a time or two....hundred!” Both girls chuckled and hugged.

“Ahhh! Love makes me so high,” Kat added.

Sutton smirked and crinkled her nose at her friend. “OMG, Kat. I love you so much! I couldn’t have done this all tonight without your help. You saved my butt again and I owe you big time.”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure we are even-steven now. You know how many times you’ve saved my sorry ass from both work and personal situations? But glad I could help, and now we both get to go home and snuggle with our significant others. Bet you’re glad Richard’s back in town for the weekend.”

“Yes, yes I am.”

The two girls walked out of the closet to their desks and grabbed their personal items, headed to the elevators to call it a night.

“Hey, so Jane’s having issues with Pinstripe?” Kat asked.

“Yeah, I’m kinda not talking to her at the moment. She’s been very bitchy lately. Just because I made a comment about him, she snapped and bit my head off.”

“I know. She kinda did that to me today at lunch. But please forgive her, she’s under a lot of pressure with work deadlines, plus Pinstripe’s been sorta out of touch. Wonder what he’s thinking. I....kinda feel like he’s back to being his playboy self while on the road.”

“Really, Kat? You think he’s going to cheat again?”

“I hope not. He should know how lucky he was that Jane forgave him after that incident last year.” The elevator halted and chimed, and the lift doors opened onto the lobby. “Can I tell you something in confidence, Sutton?”

“Of course, cross my heart and hope to cry.”

“It’s ‘die’ but I’d rather you cry....well, I really don’t like Pinstripe-Ryan, never have.”

Sutton glanced at Kat and nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I know. He’s a hotty but can be kind of too cocky. But, I feel, Jane’s attracted to his wild, bad boy side. He’s helped her come out of her sexual-shell, releasing her inner wildness, and that’s a plus.”

“Hmm, I guess. Adena helped me get out of my sexuality shell, but she’s not a jerk. Anyhow, please don’t ever repeat what I told you. I think Jane would never speak to me again if she found out.”

Sutton relied, “Promise,” and gestured a crisscross over her chest with her left hand.

- - - - -
As the girls walked out of the elevator and down the lobby corridor, the janitor greeted them as he maneuvered the humming floor wax machine in circles. “Have a safe trip home ladies.”

“Bye Mike, don’t work so hard. You always keep our building so shiny and fresh and we’re grateful,” Kat replied as she lead the way.

“We love you, Mike,” Sutton added, a few steps behind Kat, as she dug through her purse for her cellphone.

They passed Mike’s utility cart full of rags, mops, and cleaning chemicals, and a small radio laid on top of the rags. It was blasting NYC Oldies radio station. Just as the girls walked by, the radio DJ announced, “Now here’s one from 1974 that will tug at your heartstrings. Enjoy the Hollies.”

Kat halted to a complete stop, almost tripping Sutton who was following her closely, staring down at her phone’s screen. “Oh wow, Sutton! That song?”

“What? Um....I don’t recognize it. Sounds very old.”

“Yes, it is. That’s....’The Air That I Breath’....Oh my god! One of my Dad’s favorites.”

“Okay, cool.” Sutton shrugged her shoulders.

Kat explained as the girls started walking again to the exit. “You see....all my young life, my dad would play this one song every night for my mother. He said that grandpa Joe would always listen to it when he worked on his car in their garage. Dad and Uncle Fred helped out by handing him tools, and grandma would make them homemade oatmeal raising cookies.”

“That’s a cool childhood memory, Kat.”

“No, you see....it just floors me ‘cuz I haven’t heard this song since I was in high school. What’s the chance it’s playing right here at this moment, in this bougie building in the middle of Manhattan?”

“And....so it’s a déjà vu thing for you and your childhood. Really cool! Can’t say I’ve ever heard of it before. All I heard growing up was Country music....yee-haw!”

Kat chuckled, “Yeah, really takes me back.”

The night watchman bid goodnight and released the automatic doors to open, and the night’s muggy July air welcomed the women outside.

“Okay, our ride is almost here. Thank you again for the hand, Katherine. I will be back at work before seven to see Oliver’s content expression on his face.”

“Yeah girlfriend, he’s bound to promote you for all that hard work.”

“Mannn....I wish. I work them long hours, so give me them big bills!”

The girls laughed loudly in the back seat as they shared several anecdotes. The ride dropped Sutton off first then headed across the bridge towards Brooklyn. Kat sat in the back just vegging out, staring out the side window into space. She couldn’t get that song from Mike’s radio out of her head all ride long, and hummed it subconsciously. Then, in mid-tune, it hit her. The lyrics to that childhood song’s meaning hit her hard.

“Oh my gosh,” Kat murmured to herself.

The driver looked up at his rear view mirror, “I’m sorry?”

“Ah, no, nothing. Sorry!” she deflected.

- - - - -
Kat put her key inside the brass door lock and turned it with a click. As she entered Adena’s apartment, she was cheerfully greeted by the woman laying on the red velvet couch, “Hey babe!”

Dropping off her things, the worn-out Director walked over to kiss her girl. “Hi baby, I’m so beat.” Kat plopped onto the couch with her head lying on Adena’s lap.

“Were you able to help Sutton finish all the clothes for tomorrow?” Adena rubbed Kat’s temples slowly in circles.

“Yes, we got it all done. I had found poor Sutton panicking in the closet with piles of shit strewned all over the floor, so I had to give her a hand or she’d be there until tomorrow.”

“You’re her hero, then. Bet she’s very grateful.” Adena bent over and kissed the top of Kat’s head. “Do you want something to eat before bed?”

“No thanks, we ordered pizza around eight. I’m just sooo tired I’m going to just lie here next to you until tomorrow.”

Adena chuckled and patted her cheeks, “It’s late, let’s go to bed,” and slid from under Kat’s head to stand up, extending her hand towards Kat to grasp. Kat grabbed on and tugged Adena back towards her and she fell on top of Kat’s lap.

“I really like these lacy blue panties on you.” Kat played with the garment’s elastic while she spoke.

Adena bit her bottom lip and winked down at Kat. “Hmm?”

“Will you give me a back rub in bed? I think I pulled something carrying all those heavy designer gowns on hangers.....It’s the hazard of being in fashion, you know.”

Adena wrapped her hands around Kat’s neck and simply answered, “My poor baby.”

Chapter Text

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when Kat hurried up the front steps of the old chocolate-brown freestone building in Brooklyn. The front door was just beyond the entry to the first floor used bookstore, and inside the poorly lit lobby she was greeted by the mailman. He was busy stuffing stamped letters, bills, and newspaper flyers into the opened multi-unit mailboxes. He saluted Kat with a heavy Brooklyn accent, “Hiya, Miss.”

“Hi there, may I just reach in over you and grab my mail?” The portly man paused his work and scooted a bit allowing Kat to quickly reach in the open receptacle and take her correspondence. “Thank you. Have a great day, buddy,” Kat waved and moved past him.

She continued her journey forward, walking up three flights of stairs and down a long corridor to the far corner apartment. As Kat approached her final destination, her ears recognized an exotic tune of lutes, drums, and flutes, coming out of #3-E. She turned the key and entered the studio space, where her olfactory senses were immediately engulfed by the sweet smell of home cooking. “Yum, I’m so hungry!” Kat dropped off the mail and key on the entry console, slipping off her high top sneakers, and making her way towards the small kitchen.

Adena stood in front of the antiquated gas stove swaying her hips and tapping her foot to the beat of the captivating music, stirring something inside a copper pot. Kat walked up behind the artist and kissed her on the neck.

“Hey baby! How was Scarlet?” Adena chimed, muting the melody.

Although it was Saturday, Kat had gone into the office earlier to finish an assignment for Lauren’s group that was due on Monday morning. “Meh, it was fine. I finished the graphs and emailed them to Angie and Tamara to print and bind first thing Monday morn. So mission accomplished.”

“Well that’s great. And, I’m glad you’re back home early to relax. Want to taste my pumpkin soup? It’s a new recipe I got from the Cooking Channel.” Adena blew on a wooden spoon and extended it out towards Kat’s lips.

“Mmmm, that’s tasty....so creamy! I like when you experiment with different recipes,” Kat said walking to the dresser near the bedroom.

“Yes, it’s fun. I’m definitely going to make this again in the Fall when we get cooler weather.” Adena watched as Kat undid her belt and took off her tight jeans, slipping into loose cotton pajama pants, removing her top and bra, and then putting on a tank top.

“Uuugh, I have worst cramps,” Kat whined and rubbed her lower abdomen. “I didn’t have ibuprofen in my buttpack and I didn’t want to stop working to run across the street to the pharmacy. So I just agonized in my office until I was finished.”

“Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that. Let me get you the heating pad and some midol.”

“Okay, I’m feeling a bit nauseous so I’ll lie down in bed until the drugs kick in. Also, can I have some of your soup and some crackers? I haven’t had lunch and I don’t want the medicine to hurt my stomach.”

Kat laid down and Adena brought her the heating pad, setting it up and laying it across her abdomen. “Do you want me to find our second one and get it for your lower back, too?”

Kat closed her eyes and groaned. “This is good for now, thank you.”

“Okay, I’m going to bring you the pills and food now.” Adena turned around and went into the medicine cabinet, then the kitchen.

After Kat ate, Adena took the tray with dishes off the bed and kissed the top of her head. “I’m going to wash these dishes up and go work on my photo editing some more. You just close your eyes and rest. Call out if there’s anything else you need, love.”

“Thank you, Adena. I love you.” Kat dosed off in the fetal position while she waited for the drugs to kick in and Adena pulled the curtains in the room closed for her.

- - - - -
An hour into editing, Adena’s tablet chimed signaling an incoming FaceTime call. “Allo Maman,” she softly answered, swiftly moving from her desk into her walk-in closet and closing the door. She did not want to disturb a sleeping Kat but did want to catch up with her mom.

“Adena-joon, your face is so lovely. How have you been, my precious child? Your job okay?”

“Really great! Deltanget-am. My job at Scarlet is wonderful. I have had the opportunity to photograph so many interesting people, and my boss let’s me have freedom to be creative, playing with the different themes and backdrops on photo shoots. So it hasn’t been as stuffy and constricting as I thought the position would be. And how are you?”

“Wonderful joon, I’m packing to go visit your aunt in London. She sent me a ticket and I leave in four days. I’m going to stay with her and Arash for six weeks.” Adena could hear her mother’s parakeets chirp loudly in the background.

“That’s great news! Are you leaving the birds and Pishi with Uncle?”

“Yes, he and Tarja will watch them and my house. I hope Pishi behaves and gets along better with their cat. So, how is Katherine Edison doing?”

Adena giggled at her mother’s way of referring to her girlfriend. “Kat is wonderful, too. She got promoted at Scarlet and has been working really hard. Today, our day off, she had to go into work and finish a project. Now she’s taking a nap.”

“Oh, that explains you talking to me in a hushed tone. Is she always over at your house now?” Adena could hear Maman’s wall clock’s deep ‘dong-dong’ as her mother asked her the question.

“Um....we take turns at each other’s flat, but she prefers mine.” Adena shyly looked away from the screen and back into her mother’s eyes, knowing what’d come next.

The elder El-Amin paused for a moment and cleared her throat, calling out to her cat to get off of her refrigerator top. “Well dear, sounds like you both are getting more serious with your relationship. And, I know you don’t like me to ask these things, but what are the intentions here?”

Adena saw her mom now staring at her with more serious eyes and brows knitted, reminding her of when she was a kid coming home from school with scraped knees. “Maman...” Adena sighed, “I...I don’t understand your concern. I’m a grown woman, things are great with my girlfriend, what more could you want.”

Adena watched her mother take off her glasses and rub her eyes, adjusting the spectacles back onto the bridge of her nose. “You really need clarification, Adena?” Maman crossed her hands on the table in front of her and waited.

“I don’t want to talk about this, now.” Adena responded in a serious tone, rubbing her chin with the back of her hand.

“Well, suit yourself. You don’t have to convey your wants to me, but I feel it’s time you and Katherine talked about it. The time is now to discuss future wishes together. You are both at an age when you should be settling down. I cannot imagine your relationship moving forward in limbo like this for a long period of time.”

Adena huffed and became agitated. “Maman, our relationship is NOT in....in limbo, as you say. We are going very strong right now. This is the best it’s ever been and....and we are so very much in love.”

Maman smiled at the screen and continued with another question, “Wouldn’t you like to take it to another level, then? I’m not stupid child, I know what you’d always wanted out of life and out of finding a soulmate.” The woman whispered closer to the screen, “I know lesbians can now marry in Western cultures. I’ve seen it in our black market papers.”

Adena was a bit taken aback by the comment, then corrected her mother. “Kat is not a lesbian, we are a queer couple.”

“Okay, yes.” Maman waved her hand in front of the tablet, “I’m not an expert on titles, you know that dokhtaram. But I’m just saying that maybe it’s time to ask more of Katherine. Like that saying, ‘Why buy the cow if the milk is free,’ she is content but are you?”

“Huh?” Adena was getting impatient with her mother and rolled her eyes at her.

“As your Maman, I feel you should listen to my wise-old advise and contemplate asking yourself if you are happy or want more from this relationship, from what it is providing.” Maman took a sip from her tea cup. “Look, if Katherine were a man and courting you, I would ask of you the same questions, right?”

Adena bowed her head in thought, trying to keep her anger at bay. She let out a long breath and answered, “Maman I love Kat more than anything in the world, and she loves me the same. But I’m not going to pressure her right now. She is with me, giving me 110% in our relationship. I cannot force her to do something she’s not ready for, nor will I make the first move....at this moment. Perhaps down the road.” Adena clarified, with tears in her eyes when she finished her rant back to her mother.

“Hmmm, I see. So you are telling me you would like a marriage with Kat? Child, just be sure she’s on the same page as you, that’s all. Because if she’s not, I don’t want you hurt again, wasting your youth.”

Adena nodded her head slowly and her mother finally changed the subject, talking about her upcoming trip and how she wanted Zareen to visit her in London for a few days. Fifteen minutes later the two waved goodbye and the call ended. Adena sat in silence in the closet for a bit until she heard the toilet flushing. She stood up and exited, finding Kat up and walking from the bathroom towards the living area.

“Hey, feeling better?”

“Yes. I feel so bloated and gross, but the cramps are better.” Kat kissed Adena’s forehead and sat on the couch with her legs stretched on top of the coffee table. Thanks for taking care of me, baby. It’s so great knowing how much you care. And, the soup was dee-lish.”

Adena moved in closer and sat on the armrest of the velvety couch and Kat put her head in her lap. “It’s sweet how much you love me too, Kat.”

Kat lifted her head up to kiss Adena and stopped, noticing her eyes were red like she’d been crying. “What’s wrong?” She extended her right hand and touched Adena’s cheek, waiting for a reply.

Adena looked down and just shook her head. So Kat rubbed her cheek gently and asked again. “Baby?”

“I was just talking to Maman inside the closet while you slept.”

Kat sat up. “Is she okay? Everyone okay?”

“Everything’s fine, Kat. No worries. She just irritates me with her petty concerns some days.”

“Oh? What did she say?” Kat saw Adena turn her face away from her and get quiet again, making the situation frustrating. She rubbed Adena’s knee to get her to open up. “Hey, come on. We talked about this, how we’re going to share all our feelings....good and bad. And, how we’re not going to shut each other out if something’s bothering us?”

Adena turned back to face Kat and stood up, walking around to her other side to sit and join her on the couch. “She was just asking about us,” Adena sighed, “and about how our relationship was doing, where it was going. And if there’s a future.”

Kat drew her brows together in thought. “Well....you told her the truth, that we are swell and very happy, no?”

“Yes, of course Joon. But she just kept prodding and being pushy with her relationship questions.”

“Yeah, guess all mothers tend to do that to their adult daughters. To boot, mine is a psychiatrist. Oof!” Kat looked at Adena and they shared a small chuckle. “Want me to talk to her, reassure her?”

Adena shook her head, “No, no is okay. I just need to forget what she said and let it go.”

Kat gazed into Adena’s eyes and they sat in silence for a minute. She had a feeling she knew exactly what type of relationship questions Maman was pressuring her daughter with. So, to reassure Adena everything was going to be fine, she inched her face closer to the artist, pressing their lips into a slow, tender kiss. Adena moaned softly in Kat’s mouth and self-indulged in the closeness of their frames. Kat leaned back and pulled apart their lips, hugging Adena tightly, resting her head on her shoulder.

“I love Maman El-Amin’s daughter with all my heart. She is my life and my better half.” Kat murmured and felt Adena melt into her embrace.

Chapter Text

Over a week had passed since Adena’s uncomfortable relationship conversation with her mother in her apartment closet. It was another hectic Tuesday morning at Scarlet and the office buzzed with loud voices, ringing telephones, and the clicking of keyboards. There were deadlines to meet and people to see. A rack of the latest fashions was being pushed down the middle of the bullpen into Jacqueline’s office for approval.

Kat’s cellphone lit up on top of her desk as she walked back into her office with documents in hand, freshly snatched off the communal color printer by Andrew’s desk. Her mother’s picture lit up across the phone’s screen and Kat smiled, taping the phone to answer the FaceTime call.

“Hey, hey Mom!”

“Hi honey! Hope I’m not interrupting you at work.”

“No, I wouldn’t have answered if it wasn’t a good time. What’s up?” The Director pulled out her navy blue leather office chair and plopped down.

“Well, just wanted to touch base and hear my lovely daughter’s voice.” Susan brought her ‘World’s Best Mom’ mug up to her lips and took a quick sip. “Also, to tell you I’m coming into the City on Friday morning for my annual physical. I’m staying until late Saturday afternoon and was wondering if you and Adena would like to go to brunch Saturday morning? Susan quickly added, “I already have plans for Friday night dinner with my friend, Eloise, but the next day I’m free.”

“Oh terrific mom, yes, I’m sure we are also available.” Kat reached up to her desktop with her free hand and opened her IM to send Adena a quick inquiry. “But I’ll double-check with Dee. You know we’d both love to see you.”

“I’d love to see you both, too.”

Kat swiveled her chair around to watch the pigeons courting outside on her windowsill. “Where are you staying Friday night? You are welcome to crash at my place. I just washed the sheets and cleaned the bathroom, so you got great timing,” Kat laughed, her shoulders faintly bouncing up and down. “I’m sleeping over at Adena’s these days and you can have it all to yourself. No sense getting a hotel room.”

“Terrific, then it’s a date.” Susan gave her a thumbs up. “Oh, Daddy sends his love and says next time he’d like you guys to come up and visit us. You know the house is big and lonely without you, dear. And, bet Adena would love to see where you grew up and went to school.”

“Yeah, definitely will plan a weekend trip up real soon. Tell Dad I love and miss him, too. See you this weekend. Bye!” The two women waved at each other and Kat’s phone screen went blank.

- - - - -
On Saturday morning, Adena and Kat walked hand-in-hand up the wide sidewalk to meet Susan at a quaint bistro near Kat’s loft.

“Hi baby.... Hi Adena dear!” Susan hugged each girl individually while they were waiting to be seated, and the three stood in a tight circle. “You both look lovely.”

“You look very lovely, too, Susan,” Adena replied, admiring the woman’s beaded necklace. “You always have the best jewelry on.”

Kat loved to watch Adena and her mom interact, it gave her great pleasure. “So happy you’re here, Mom. It’s a nice surprise. And so glad all your tests are done and all seems fine with your health.”

“Oh yes, you know it’s just the normal stuff we women have to do yearly, especially a 56 year old like myself. I just never found a better physician in New Canaan so I don’t mind coming into the City for it once a year. Plus, it gives me another opportunity to catch up with my baby girl and her kind girlfriend.” Susan wrapped her arm around Kat’s and lightly brushed Adena’s shoulder.

Adena glanced over to Kat and the two held hands, smiling at each other.

The tall waiter signaled their table was ready and guided the the party over to the side patio door. “Is this okay out here,” he asked.

“Perfect,” Kat and Susan answered simultaneously and Adena nodded.

Kat pulled Adena’s chair out, then her own. “Did I tell you gals, the new hot tub finally got installed? The first one we bought turned out to be a lemon and broke the first week, and the second one was the wrong model and we never had it unpacked.” Susan reached into her purse and pulled out her readers. “Your Dad was furious with all the ordeal and I thought he’d just ask for a refund and nix the idea to have a tub altogether. But luckily he kept wanting the jacuzzi because I pushed him on the idea.” She put on her glasses and opened up the laminated menu, glancing down at it. “The third time was the charm, and now the new tub sits waiting to be broken into at our cottage. Unfortunately Marcus and I won’t be able to try it until the Spring, due to busy commitments at work and plans with extended family members, but perhaps you girls can take a long weekend trip to the Hamptons and break it in for us?” Susan kept facing downward but drew her eyes up in question, at the girls.

Kat smiled and turned her attention towards her right. “Ooh, that sounds like a great idea. Adena, we should do it soon before it gets too cold.”

“Okay, sounds good,” Adena answered with her face still buried in her menu, then looked up at Kat. “Aziz-am, you still owe me a trip to the Hamptons, remember?”

“Yes, I haven’t forgotten my promise,” Kat replied.

- - - - -
The ladies finished up with their brunch plates and the waiter cleared the table, offering them more juice and coffee.

Susan waived the man off, but gestured towards her brunch mates. “Oh gosh, I’m pretty coffee’d out. But you guys can get more drinks if you’d like.”

“No, no. I had two glasses of grapefruit juice and a glass of water. I think I better use the ladies room before I have an accident,” the artist jested.

“Wouldn’t want that, babe,” Kat smirked. “We’ll wait right here for you to get back and then we’ll pay the bill and go.” Kat watched as Adena stood up and walked away swaying her hips and disappearing through the squeaky glass door, looking for the ladies’ room inside the establishment.

Susan observed Kat with a grin. “Honey, It’s a lovely morning. Maybe we should take a long walk in the park after we leave here.” Kat was still not paying attention, and Susan tapped on her forearm. “So, is everything great with you both?”

“Huh?” Kat turned towards her mom with a dopey smile on her face. “Yes....it is wonderful! Adena is such a sweetheart and we are loving each other’s company.” Kat’s fingers played with the condensation around her glass of ice water as she spoke. “We mostly stay together in one apartment, but we’re keeping both places in case one of us feels the need for privacy.”

“I think that is a very good strategy, Kat. Seems like you two learned from your previous union and are now doing everything you can to make this a wonderful re-connection and relationship.”

“Yeah, we both agree we moved too fast the first time around. We were lost in all the excitement and lust, became blind to the things that were happening outside of that bubble. So this is good, Mom.”

“And, you are keeping very open information channels to your wishes and desires?” Susan went into her psychiatrist mode. “Communication and respect are the keys in a great relationship, hon. It can’t all be chocolate and roses, fun and games all the time, you know that. In any relationship, whether a friendship or romantic union, that is not the case.”

Kat nodded and listened to her mom’s advise. “Uh-huh.”

“All relationships take work, but romantic relationships take extra hard work.” Susan placed her linen napkin on top of the table and reached across to hold Kat’s hands. “Once the honeymoon phase wears off, and life continues to throw things at you...the stresses of work, families, illnesses, owning a home, bills, aging parents, etc...that’s when all the hard work and compromising really kick in. There will be lots of happy moments, but there will also be lots of hard days ahead. And if both parties are not 100% committed, then the whole relationship will falter.” Susan rolled her eyes. “I cannot tell you how many couples I see that break up because of poor communication. If only they’d talk...geez.”

Kat lifted her eyes and released Susan’s hands, as Adena returned to the table. “All better, beautiful?”

Adena chuckled, “Yes, much better.” Adena sat back down and Susan observed their body language as the two young women interacted.

“Adena, Mom and I were talking about going for a long walk through Central Park before she heads home today. So we’re going to go back to my loft so she can change into capris and a t-shirt and head back out. Wanna come, too?” Kat offered with hopeful eyes.

“Ohhh....I’d love to, but Firuze is waiting for me at the studio with some possible upcoming showings for me to review. Sorry, but you guys go ahead and I’ll see you later at home, Kat.”

“Not a problem at all. We understand, dear.” Susan patted Adena’s hand on top of the table. “I’m happy to hear you’re still pursuing work outside of Scarlet. I know it’s your passion.”

The artist turned to Susan with a gleam in her gaze. “Yes, it is. I haven’t had a showing in a while, but I hope to in the near future.”

Kat added, “Yes, I’m so proud of Dee and encourage her to continue with her passion of photography outside of Scarlet, too.” Adena reached up and stroked Kat’s back, eliciting a wink from Kat. “Okay, let’s go up and pay and head out.”

The three stepped outside the front of the restaurant after Kat insisted on paying for the meal. They walked Adena five blocks to the nearest metro station where they hugged her and said goodbye. “Susan, it was lovely to spend time with you again. Please give my best to Marcus and have a safe return trip,” the artist stated.

“Lovely to see you, dear. I will tell Marcus you say hello. Take care of yourself....and thank you for always looking after my daughter. Kat is the happiest I’ve ever seen her.” Adena smiled and Kat grinned at her and her mom, pulling Adena in for a quick peck on the lips.

“Bye love.”

- - - - -
After changing into comfortable, loose clothes at Kat’s place in Chelsea, the two Edison women walked two blocks up to 8th Avenue and took a bus north to Central Park. The day was beginning to heat up but the tree-lined paths inside the grounds provided good shade, making the walk more pleasant.

“Did I tell you my FitBit broke, hon?”

“No, what happened? These things are pretty indestructible.” Kat tapped at hers to see her step count. “I’ve had mine three years without a problem.”

“Well, they’re indestructible but not waterproof. I left mine attached to my bra strap and washed it in bleach. Needless to say, it came out very clean but dead. So, I broke down and bought a new one like yours, see?” Susan held out her wrist and showed Kat her new device on a pretty blue bracelet.

“Very nice, Mom,” Kat said and giggled.

After walking non-stop at a brisk pace for an hour, the women found a nice bench by The Pool. This picturesque spot was one of Susan’s favorite places in the Park, for its weeping willows and rushing waterfall. “Aaah, my poor old aching feet need a break!” Susan looked down at her wrist and moved it close to Kat’s face. “Look, we’ve got our 10,000 plus steps already.”

“Yay!” Kat cheered and gave her mom a high-five, joining her on the bench. “So Mom....um.” Kat turned her body to face the older woman, and folded one leg under the other on the bench. “I wanted to run this by you first. No one else knows what I’m about to tell you, not even my friends.” Kat inhaled deeply through her nose and blew out through her mouth. “Adena and I are getting really serious, and- -“

“Kat?!” Susan interrupted and put her hand on her daughter’s knee.

Kat bit her bottom lip and raised her eyebrows as she finished her sentence. “I know she’s the one, Mom. I....I’m thinking....no, not thinking... I WANT to propose to Adena, soon.”

“Oh Kat, that is wonderful news!” Susan reached over and the women embraced quickly and let go.

“I just don’t know what’s wrong with me, but all of a sudden I feel like this....this, urgency to make it official and seal the deal, sorta speak.” Kat was happy and moved her hands and arms in an animated manner.

“Well, I’ll tell you the clinical name for that condition....it’s called LOVE, silly.” Susan gave a little shake of the head and smiled at her daughter. “You are madly in love with her, Kat. I saw it when you guys were together at brunch today. It’s definitely mutual because Adena also had stars in her eyes whenever she’d look at you.” Kat’s eyes softened at her mom’s observation. “And, I bet you cannot see your life without her in it, correct?”

“Yes, that is so right. Adena is all I think about. If I’m at work....I wonder what she’s up to, three-floors below my office. If I’m at home with her....I secretly stare at her in amazement while she cooks, or sleeps, or simply just sits looking at her iPad. I don’t know what I ever did to get so lucky, Mom.” Kat teared up. “But all I know is that she’s the love of my life. After all this time, Adena still throws me off my game.” Kat squeezed her eyes shut and a tear escaped and rolled down her cheek, getting her another big hug from her mother.

- - - - -
The women spent an hour sitting on the bench laughing and sharing heart-to-heart talks, deciding it was time to leave and go home at three o’clock. I don’t want you to get stuck in NYC rush hour traffic, Mom. So we best go back.” They walked towards the edge of the park and to the 103rd Street Metro Station, taking the Redline back to Chelsea.

Kat stayed in her apartment with her mom until she was all packed up and ready to leave. They sat at the kitchen table for 30 more minutes talking again about Kat’s proposal plan and Adena. “Mom, do you feel strange about me marrying another woman?”

“Not at all, Kat.” Susan paused and adjusted in her seat, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the table. “Well, not going to lie. When you first told Daddy and me that you had fallen for a woman, that you guys were dating, we naturally talked a lot about that and what it meant. But we always came to the same conclusion, that it’s your life and your choice to make. That we couldn’t tell you who to love. You have to love who your heart tells you to love, not who society or your parents want you to love.”

Kat nodded as Susan explained her feelings. “Okay. That’s good because you know I still would have dated Adena even if you guys disapproved. It would have just made me sad that you didn’t agree and accept our relationship. But I’m so happy it turned out like this, that I’m so lucky I have such open minded and progressive parents.” Kat reached out and took her mom’s hand in hers. “Adena didn’t have that with her father, and that’s really sad.”

“Yes, it is dear. What about her mother and the rest of her immediate family?”

“Her Maman is supportive and her little sister is 100% in. Her father passed away six years ago, so he’s out of the picture. Adena’s mom long ago learned that her daughter was born a lesbian and she had to accept her and love her that way, or she’d lose her forever. Guess there were many parental fights on that matter when Adena came out as a teenager. Her mother would always shield her and take her side, take the wrath from everyone, and the father was very upset with his wife...and Adena.” A sad expression washed over Kat’s face. “He stopped talking to her. That’s why she left home and that backwards hometown at age 17.”

Susan peered at Kat with sympathetic eyes. “Adena is a brave girl for going out into this tough world on her own, and so young at that.”

“Uh-huh, she is. Her boldness is another reason I’m so attracted to her. But again, her mother and sister are fine with us being together.” Kat released Susan’s hand and sat back in her chair. “I think her mother will be ecstatic when she hears about our engagement. She’s been hinting about getting more commitment from us, and she really likes me. Especially since I was the one that helped Adena get away from the Iranian police, that one time they arrested her at the airport.” Kat chuckled and bobbed her head around. “It gave me big-time brownie points with Maman El-Amin.”

Susan smiled proudly at her daughter. “That’s great, baby.”

“What about the rest of your family and Dad’s? You think they’ll disown me when they find out?”

“Oh honey, I’ll talk to them about it if you want. But I don’t think you should worry too much what they think or don’t think. Daddy and I are happy you and Adena are dating again, and that’s all that matters.”

“Will you tell Dad tonight about us and what I’m planning to do?”

“Oh no. I think you should call him and tell him yourself, Kat. That’s such special news that can only come from you, dear.”

“Okay, I will call home when I get closer to that day. I think I’ll take you up on the Hamptons offer and take Adena up there. Maybe I’ll propose then....not sure. But I do want to make it extra-special when I do it. Adena is a kind, wonderful woman and she deserves nothing but special treatment.”

“Adena is also a very lucky woman to have found you, Kat. You guys are going to make a marvelous married couple and have a long, long union. Just remember to keep communicating, respecting, and loving each other. The rest will fall into place.”

“Thank you, Mommy. I love you so much.”

“Ditto dear, ditto.”

Chapter Text

It was their lazy Sunday morning and Kat was lying on the couch while Adena sat at her desk organizing boxes of old photographs she had retrieved from Firuze’s basement a couple of weeks ago. “I can’t believe how much printed materials I’ve accumulated in my few years of living in New York. And, I still have all the larger matted prints from past gallery showings in Firuze’s office closet. She’s been so accommodating, but I’ll have to move those someplace next.”

“Well, that just shows that you’ve been extremely industrious all this time. Can you imagine if you had printed everything that’s on your camera memory cards, too? We’d need to rent a three bedroom apartment just to house all the photographs you’ve taken.”

Adena chuckled as she dumped another box full of photo proofs on top of her large desk. They were mostly black and white images of a multitude of themes, including her subjects from ‘The Women Behind The Veil’ series. “Here, bet you recognize these.” Adena walked over to Kat’s side and handed her two 8x10 prints.

“Wow, yeah.” Kat grinned and nodded. “I remember these like it was just yesterday...’Hopeless Romantic & Beyoncé Fan!’...Wow, so iconic. We should frame and hang these up here. They sorta represent us, don’t you think?”

“Hmm, maybe. But you’re both the hopeless romantic and Beyoncé fan.”

“Oh, I think you are definitely the hopeless romantic, babe. I’m more the throw-caution-to-the-wind romantic type....and grand Beyoncé fan.” Kat chuckled.

Adena bobbed her head side to side. “Uh, to an extent....but very guarded, too.”

“Hmmm?” Kat cocked her head to the side.

Adena took the photographs from Kat’s hands and laid them on top of the coffee table, then she straddled Kat and took both sets of hands and laced their fingers together. “I can still see you in that colorful, red and blue, jumper walking into the studio for the first time. So confident and gorgeous.”

“Yeah? Well, I can still see you in the sexy tight spanx, tank, and cameo hijab....Although you were NOT happy to meet me, I still thought you were so hot, Ms. El-Amin.”

“Mmhmm.” Adena smirked and bent down to kiss Kat. She bit down and pulled on her bottom lip before releasing it, studying Kat’s face up close, as Kat played with the hem of her blouse.

“Babe, I’ve been thinking. I’d like to take you up to my parents’ place in the Hamptons, like Mom suggested.” Adena sat up straight and softly dragged her fingers over Kat’s forearms. “You just celebrated your one-year work anniversary and you should have three weeks of vacation now accumulated. I think you have to use-or-lose three days before the end of the year....so, why don’t we take a Thursday and Friday off and do a long weekend?” Kat sat up and pecked The artist’s lips once. “It be just the two of us in the place, far away from Scarlet’s madness....with a new jacuzzi to break in....a King size bed....my lips....your neck....” Kat massaged Adena’s lower back and kissed her neck, as Adena closed her eyes, listening. “Sound like a good plan, Adena-joon?”

“Mmhmm, it sounds like a lovely plan....especially the hot tub, bed, and your lips part,” Adena responded opening her eyes, giggling and pushing Kat back down onto her back.

Without breaking eye contact and with a cocky smirk, Kat reached up and blindly undid the drawstring on Adena’s pajama pants and pulled her ‘J'aime Paris’ t-shirt up and over her head. “Sit up,” Adena commanded and she pulled off Kat’s shirt too, locking their lips in a searing kiss in the process.

“Mmmm....I love you so much, baby,” Kat breathlessly murmured into her girlfriend’s open mouth, running her fingers through the artist’s soft locks.

- - - - -
An hour later, the two laid naked and sated on the Persian area rug next to the couch. They continued sharing languid kisses and caresses with wondering hands. Kat had pulled down the large rectangular cushion off the couch for their heads, and they both shared it.

“Okay, So tomorrow I’ll show you how to request leave from your supervisor. When do you want to go? A week from this coming Thursday, Okay?”

“Uh-huh, that’s perfect.” Adena slapped Kat’s bare behind and sat up. “It’s already after four, I’m going to figure out what we should make for dinner.” Adena reached over Kat to grab her t-shirt and thong panties, but Kat grabbed her by the wrist.

“Mmm, maybe you should cook in the nude....I’d like that.” Kat winked.

“Oh, If it’d be up to you we’d spend all weekend, every weekend, naked in this apartment. Correct?”

Kat looked up to the ceiling, smirking. “Um....I don’t understand the question.”

- - - - -
With work leave approved, the lovers drove two hours in a rented Jeep to the Hamptons. It was a beautiful August morning and the vehicle allowed them to make a pit stop on the way to the cottage to stock up on groceries. Kat pointed across the street from where they were stopped at a traffic light. “Okay, we’re going to pull into that market so we can buy all the things we need.” She had promised to cook Adena her famous homemade baked macaroni casserole, and Adena wanted to buy fruit and the necessary ingredients to make fresh hummus.

The crowded ‘Stop & Shop’ was small but had a lot of gourmet items and fresh produce. Kat selected a bottle of Rosé for herself and a San Pellegrino for Adena. “Oh, we better get a canister of mosquito spray too, babe. Them skeeters can be nasty at night, if we ever want to walk to the beach in the moonlight.”

With shopping cart full, the women stood in line to pay. “Kat Edison, is that you?” A man’s voice came from behind the girls.

Kat turned around and immediately recognized the tall, handsome guy with piercing blue eyes behind her. “Oh my gosh, Tanner. How the heck are you?” The two awkwardly reached for each other and embraced briefly.

“Geez, it’s been so long....like more than eight years, right? What brings you to the Hamptons?.... Do you live around here?”

“Yep, eight years, since the summer of high school graduation.” Kat replied with nervous eyes. “I live in New York City and work for a woman’s magazine as the Director of Social Media. Just visiting.” She then motioned to the other side of her shopping cart. “Hey Tanner, this is Adena, my girlfriend.”

The man extended his hand out and shook the smaller woman’s hand. “Hi there....Adena?”

“Yes, hello. It’s nice to meet you, Tanner. You must have good stories about a younger Kat to share?” Adena tilted her head, snickering at her girlfriend. Kat rolled her eyes and smiled back at her.

“Oh, just crazy kid stories from grade school thru secondary school. Kat was a tomboy in elementary school and we used to play basketball and kickball at recess with a mutual group of friends. She also kicked my butt in dodgeball,” he chuckled. “I was a short, scrawny kid back then and she showed no mercy, right Kat?”

“Ha! Yes, those were the good old carefree days of grass stained knees and awkward school dances,” she added.

“Kat was also very good to me and helped me survive high school English Lit and Chemistry. She was the brainiac in school who tutored on the side.” Tanner laid his hand on Kat’s shoulder. “But, we really weren’t close friends until we started dating Junior year in high school. Guess all those after school tutoring sessions got me smitten.” Tanner winked and Kat drew her eyes down to the floor.

“Oh?” Adena grinned and her eyes widened at Kat.

Kat took a small step back, in the process gently shrugging Tanner’s hand off of her shoulder. “Yeah we’ve known each other since kindergarten, believe it or not, babe.” Kat explained and Adena noted Tanner giving them both a strange look.

“Wow, really? That’s great,” Adena replied turning around to start placing the groceries on the cashier’s conveyor belt. Just then a second cashier opened up his till and waved Tanner to his lane.

“Oh okay, I’m being moved over two lanes. See you outside before you leave, ladies? I’d love to exchange phone numbers, Kat.”

Kat slowly nodded in response and Tanner left their side. Kat whispered into Adena’s ear, “Shit, I need to hurry up and get away from him.” Adena gave her a curious look and she added, “I’ll explain later, Dee.”

- - - - -
Outside in the parking lot, Tanner approached the Jeep just as Kat was latching the tailgate closed and Adena was pushing their empty buggy across the parking lot, into the cart holder. “Hey, so it was good to see you, dude,” Kat extended her hand out to shake Tanner’s, but he outstretched his long arms up and gave her a hug, instead.

“You too. Let me give you my business card, I live here and I’m a realtor. I’ve remodeled my parents’ cottage and added a den and brand new two-level deck out back. Remember that place?” The man gave Kat another wink. “You should see how nice it’s turned out.” Tanner grazed Kat’s hand with the tips of two fingers as she took the card from him. “Hey, do your parents still own the place on Bayview?

“Yep.” Kat gave Tanner a tight lipped smile back and provided no further information.

“Cool.... I also have a place in Yonkers where my two-year-old daughter and ex live, and I frequent New York City a lot.” He paused and screwed up his eyes peering at Kat, who remained quiet. “We share a lot of good memories, right? Maybe we can grab some dinner while you guys are here....or sometime soon in the Big Apple?” He glanced at her up and down, in a seductive manner. “You’re so grown up and beautiful, Kat.”

Adena returned and noticed Kat’s uncomfortableness. So she walked over by Kat’s side and wrapped her arm around her girlfriend’s lower back, kissing her cheek. “Ready to go, sweetheart?” Just then Tanner’s eyes grew big and the women could see the lightbulb finally going off in his head.

Kat kissed the top of Adena’s hijab in response. “Yes, ready baby.”

Wide eyed, he responded, “Oh....wow, okay. Sorry, I didn’t know you....you two were together....like....like that.” The man pointed back and forth at the two women. “Sorry, Kat, I didn’t mean to be so forward.”

Kat patted him on the arm to let him off the hook, “It’s fine bro....no harm, no foul,” and turned towards the vehicle.

The trio waved goodbye and the girls drove off to the main street, headed to their final destination. Tanner scratched his head and waved back.

“Oof!” Kat groused.

“So....do you want to fill me in on Mr. Tanner,” Adena inquired, giggling like a silly teenager.

“Yes....I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of our story. We grew up in the same Connecticut neighborhood and went through 13 years of private school together. We dated in high school and were voted prom king and queen in 12th grade, and most likely to get married and have three kids.” Kat looked at Adena and they both cackled. “Oh man.... But the most awkward part was, before we went off to different colleges, we lost our virginity together in his parents’ beach place, during a Hamptons summer weekend trip. I had lied to my parents and told them I was going with a group of girlfriends to our place, but instead I was going with Tanner and another couple to....well....you know.” Kat briefly glanced at Adena and then back on the road. “Anyhoo, we did it in that house he just said he remodeled and wants me to see again.” Kat turned off of the main road onto Bayview Drive. “Let’s just say it wasn’t a very pleasant experience, and I pretty much ghosted his ass once I moved into the dorms at NYU.”

“Ohhh....oh my.” Adena quipped.

Kat looked straight ahead as she drove through perfectly manicured neighborhoods. “Yeah, crazy huh. What’s the chance I bump into him, of all the people I knew growing up, here and now?” Kat reached over and took Adena’s hand and kissed it. “With my very gorgeous Muslim Artist girlfriend, I may add.” Adena glanced back at her adoringly. “Welp, now he has a good story to tell the next soul he sees from our high school days.”

- - - - -
Kat pulled the Jeep right up to the front door of the house. They were happy to arrive in one piece at the Edison abode, unloading their bags and groceries. Adena noted how quaint the place was inside and fell in love with it instantly, placing the four grocery canvas bags on the kitchen counter. “So lovely! Which room are we using?” She asked Kat.

“The Master in the back of the house.” Kat set the large suitcase and duffel bag on the floor and embraced Adena from behind, muttering into her neck. “It has the $8,000 King size bed and best views. Plus we can exit to the deck and hot tub directly from that room. Speaking of which -“ Kat straightened up and stood tall. “Let’s go see the new hot tub.” She took Adena’s hand and led her down the short hallway through the Master Bedroom.

“Okay, but make it quick, we have all these groceries to unpack and store in the fridge and cabinets. Oh....and, hey did you inform your parents we were coming today?”

“Yes’m, I don’t want them accidentally walking in on me ravaging your naked body in the hot tub.”

“Oh my....is that what’s going to happen later?” Adena giggled, wrapping her arms around Kat’s neck.

“Oh, that’s one of many activities I have planned for us. But my parents are in Florida, anyways, for a shrink convention. So there won’t be any....surprises.” Kat pulled Adena close, grabbing her ass, and nibbling on her neck.

“Kat....Kat, the groceries need to be refrigerated!”

- - - - -
“Hey Dee, now that the food’s stored and our suitcases are unpacked, let’s take the bikes from the shed and go investigate our surroundings.” The girls filled up plastic bike bottles with water, donned on sunglasses and ball caps, and headed out.

Two hours later they returned home famished and hot, thankful for the cool air conditioning and fridge full of food. Adena unpinned her hijab and unraveled her hair, while Kat rinsed out the water bottles in the kitchen sink.

“Now that we burned some calories, I’m starving,” said Kat, drying her hands on a kitchen tea towel.

“Oh baby, this place is so lovely. I can’t wait for you to show me more of it....but first, let’s get you fed.” The girls prepared a nice salad and some paninis using the electric sandwich maker Kat’s mom had left behind, and ate sitting together on the tall stools at the kitchen counter.

“Ahh, that hit the spot. Let’s relax a bit and let our stomachs do their job.” Waiting for their big lunch to digest a bit, they snuggled on the big bed and watched a movie on the 60-inch flatscreen that hung over the dresser, until their eyes grew heavy and they succumbed to a nap.

- - - - -
Later In the early evening, Kat invited Adena to the jacuzzi. “Let’s get naked and go relax in the hot tub,” Kat said with a sparkle in her eye.

“Okay, that sounds just divine, my love.”

Kat stood up and started to strip naked and Adena followed her lead. “Here, let me get the fluffy white robes from the bathroom hooks. We’ll need them for sure when we exit the water into the cool night.” Kat disappeared for a moment and reappeared holding the two robes. She handed one over and paused, eyes transfixed on Adena’s perky breasts, with large rosy nipples. “Have I mentioned how much I love to touch your breasts?” Kat passed her tongue over her lips, lifting her right hand to cup Adena’s left breast, delicately circling the areola with her thumb, then adding her forefinger to gently pinch the hardened middle.

Adena sucked in a breath and took Kat’s hand off her chest. “Hey, let’s go out and test out the tub, see if we agree with your parents’ purchase.” Kat smiled and kissed her forehead, leading them out through the French doors.

Outside was cool, a perfect night for a dip in the hot tub. Kat lit a citronella candle then turned on the old radio she knew her dad kept inside the storage bench on the porch. A jazzy tune began to flow through the dusky air. Adena went ahead and slipped out of her robe and stepped inside, letting Kat enjoy the view of her backside as she sank into the hot water. “Um....Let me go hit the whirlpool power switch to ‘On’ so we can manually control the jet pump from there,” Kat stated, quickly returning and disrobing, stepping slowly down the tub steps, while Adena admired her beauty, tracing her body from chest to hips with her eyes, drawing her lower lip between her teeth.

Kat felt the hot water encircle her torso, almost too hot to bear at first, but soon she felt her muscles grow numb and relaxed. She pressed the ‘On/Off’ control on the side of the tub to start the whirlpool jets and sat on the bench right next to Adena. The two were immediately drawn right to each other, Adena moving onto Kat’s lap, kissing under the moonlit night. “Mmmm,” the artist moaned into Kat’s mouth as bodies pressed together.

They kissed for a long while, then Kat ran her hands over Adena’s back under the water and slowly separated their lips, saying, “I’ll be right back, baby,” quickly stepping out of the tub, putting on a robe.

“What’s going on?” Adena questioned, and in response got a look filled with desire that made her weak.

Kat entered the bedroom once again through the glass doors and headed towards the opposite side of the bed. Feeling chilled from the sudden temperature change, and leaving a trail of wet footprints on the hardwood floor to the dresser, she moved quickly. Kat reached into the large open suitcase that laid on top of the furniture, into the bottom zippered compartment, just below her side of the bag, pulling out a black harness and small bottle of lube. The bottle went into her pocket and she opened up her robe, swiftly stepping into the device, making it snug and comfortable.

She returned a few minutes later and stopped to turn up the radio’s volume louder. Standing by the edge of the jacuzzi, and looking straight into Adena’s eyes, Kat disrobed again. But this time, Kat stood wearing their strap-on from home and holding a bottle of lube.

“Oh my,” Adena said, eyes wide in astonishment. “When did you pack that?” She asked in an alluring voice.

Kat giggled and squeezed a generous amount of lubricant onto her hand, rubbing it on the toy. “I thought it’d be fun to try this out in the water. It’s just what the doctor ordered.” Kat placed the bottle down and wiped her hand on her thigh, stepping half way into the jacuzzi and sitting outside on the edge, blue dildo protruding upwards and base pressed against her pubes. “C’mere, come sit on me,” Kat signaled with her arms outstretched and eyes full of desire.

Adena was happy to oblige and stepped partially out of the water, grasping onto Kat’s shoulders and straddling her hips. Kat held the dildo with her fingers as she slid down on top of it, allowing the appendage to enter her slowly. Kat wrapped her arms tightly around her lower back and laced her fingers together to keep them both steady.

“I’m so cold Kat, let’s go back inside the water.”

Kat stood up carrying Adena and stepped inside until she was neck deep in water, then sat down on the bench. She began to kiss Adena with an open mouth and rolled her hips slowly in a circular motion. Loud moans tumbled out of Adena’s parted lips.

- - - - -
Adena gave a heavy sighed, her thighs still trembling, opening her eyes and kissing Kat lazily. “Mmmm that, Dr. Katherine, was incredible. I climaxed so hard...saw stars. Good thing you turned up the jazz,” Adena said chuckling.

Kat smiled and licked her lips, gazing into Adena’s blown pupils. “Yeah, I’m glad you feel good after your....treatment. You are a good patient, Ms. El-Amin. Imma gonna have to take you inside and prep you for part two.”

Adena rubbed their noses together. “Yeah?....But first, I have to pay my bill before you continue, doctor.”

“We’ll see what the doctor says,” Kat smirked.

Adena gently pushed up on her knees and released the dildo. She held Kat by the hand and walked them both out of the hot tub, ignoring the robes on the deck, and through the bedroom doors. Inside, Kat removed the strap-on and led them into the bathroom, turning on the two shower heads simultaneously to warm. They both stepped inside the stall ready to continue their night of pleasure.

“Mmmm, let me take care of you, baby,” Adena breathlessly murmured in her lover’s ear, but Kat took advantage of her larger frame and pushed the artist, pinning her up against the black shower tiles with arms held up by her head. “Kat?”

“Shush, not yet....just not yet.”

Kat began to make out with Adena a bit more aggressive, pressing and grinding their hips together and nipping at her neck, kissing down her collarbone, down to her breasts. She took her time on each nipple then dropped to her knees, working Adena into another climax with her mouth. The artist groaned loudly as Kat continued her ministrations, until she gasped and collapsed forward, holding herself up by Kat’s shoulders. “Oh Kat!”

“Are you okay, baby?” Kat slid up and stood holding Adena’s limp frame, letting her catch her breath until, eventually, they got out of the shower, hastily drying each other with towels, and ended up on the bed, under fluffy covers.

“Mmmm, your turn now....spread your legs,” Adena ordered. Kat did what she was told and spent the next hour groaning and gasping for air, herself.

- - - - -
On Friday, Adena awoke before dawn to pray and carefully slipped from under Kat’s hold, trying not to rouse her bedmate. “Mmm...hurry back,” Kat mumbled burying her face into Adena’s pillow. Fifteen minutes later Adena was slipping back into bed and Kat quickly reattached herself, sighing contently as she spooned the artist from behind, burying her nose in the nape of her neck to inhale the sweet fragrance of her shampoo. “Mmmm, you smell so good.” The lovers fell fast asleep again, without a care in the world.

Hours later, Kat woke alone to the smell of coffee, pancakes, and turkey bacon. She got up and slipped on fresh panties and an oversized t-shirt, sauntering to the kitchen where she found her girlfriend preparing them both breakfast.

“Well, good morning my lover. How did you sleep?” Adena said cheerfully, placing the plates on the table and kissing Kat on the lips.

Kat snatched the lapels of her robe, tugging her back to kiss her neck, whispering close to her ear, “Well, I slept with the most gorgeous, beautiful, hot woman on earth.....So, I slept pretty damn well I’d say.”

“Wow, I need to meet her. I didn’t know there was a second woman on earth with that description.” Adena pretended to be shocked and placed her hand over her heart, then chuckling said, “Sit down baby, let’s eat while it’s still warm.”

Kat released her grip and turned to grab two mugs from the cabinet above the sink, pouring them both coffee. “Yum, this looks and smells delicious, dear. You spoil me.” They sat and ate, making plans for the day.

“So, we’ll take the bikes again and ride to the park to go paddle boarding,” Kat explained. “We’ll rent the equipment at the park’s kiosk, and afterwards we can grab a late lunch at one of the hip restaurants in the downtown area. Is that goods?”

“Sounds wonderful. Let’s finish and clean up the dishes, so we can get ready for today’s new adventure.”

- - - - -
The rest of their long weekend in the Hamptons was just as splendid as the previous two days had been, spent mostly indulging each other. Kat made breakfast in bed the next morning, and Adena made sure there was lots of homemade hummus for Kat when they snuggled at night and watched television in bed.

Saturday night they laid in bed finishing the small vegetable pizza they ordered from Giuseppe’s and eating hummus and pita chips. Once the 1980’s Persian musical they watched on Netflix ended, they quietly looked through their own electronic devices. Kat took advantage of the moment and answered a couple of work emails on pending questions that Angie had sent her late the previous day. She also texted her mom to touch base and tell her they were both enjoying the cottage and the jacuzzi.

“You know, Dad’s turning 60 in late November and Mom’s giving him a big surprise party in New Canaan.” Kat paused and turned towards Adena. “I want to take you home for Thanksgiving and show you off, go to this party, and take you around to places where I grew up.”

Adena turned and smiled. “Okay, that sounds really fun. I’d love to see your house and hometown, too. Perhaps meet more of your grade-school friends and get more little Kat stories?” Adena smirked and teased.

“Ha, Yes! You’ll also meet most of my Mom’s side of the family, and Grammy Evelyn, and my Auntie Barb and Uncle Mo will be there from Dad’s side...coming in from Detroit for turkey day. It’s always a big production at the Edison’s.” Kat shook her head and swung her arm around Adena’s shoulders to hold her. Adena readjusted her head on Kat’s chest. “We can take the train up there and Mom can pick us up at the station. I know me driving in snow and ice makes you nervous, so this would be perfect...yes?”

Adena reached out and held Kat’s face, pulling her downwards for a kiss. “Yes, perfect. As long as we are together, I’ll go anywhere with you.” Kat leaned forward and gave Adena another kiss, swiping at her lips with her tongue to gain access into the artist’s mouth. Just then Adena received a FaceTime call, and released Kat’s mouth and sat up. “Sorry....it’s Zareen, she must be working the graveyard shift at the lab and wants to talk. I can tell her to call back tomorrow.”

“No, no it’s okay. Take it babe, please.”

Adena patted Kat’s thigh and answered, “Allo Zareen-joon?” Adena moved her head back close to her girlfriend’s. “Here, wave hello to Kat.”

“Hello Zareen!” Kat waved back at the screen with her head on Adena’s pillow. “Hope all is good and you’re behaving.”

“Yes, Kat. All is well with me here. Nothing too exciting to report. I did see the picture Ade’h posted of you in your yellow bikini....very nice,” Zareen giggled.

Kat rolled her eyes and gave her a thumbs up, feeling her face get flushed. Adena pinched Kat’s cheek and shrugged her shoulders at her, standing up and exiting the room, continuing to speak into her tablet as she strolled down the hall. Kat remained in bed perusing through various social media sites to keep busy. Ten minutes later she decided to go into the kitchen for a glass of wine.

Adena was sitting at the kitchen counter, facing away from the hallway, still in an animated conversation with her baby sister. She apparently did not hear the bedroom door and Kat coming down the hall towards her direction, because she didn’t react to Kat’s presence. “Yes, we are having a wonderful time.” Adena and Zareen often spoke in English together because Zareen wanted to practice the language, and that was the case tonight. “Oh âbji, today at the beach something....something happened, which really touched me here.” Adena lowered her voice and placed her right hand over her heart as she spoke. Kat stopped and took a few steps back down the hall to hide and continue listening.

“Yes? Do tell, Adena, do tell.”

“Well, we took the bicycles to the beach for a picnic and, of course, I took lots of photos of the osprey and other shorebirds on the beach. So, so lovely.”

“Okay?”

“Uh, when we were lying on the beach blanket, I mentioned to Kat that I could live here the rest of my life and that this place is a photographer’s dream....and, and - -“

“What Ade’h, just get to the point!” Zareen’s patience grew thin.

“Kat’s reply....it, it was unexpected, Zareen. It threw me off.” Adena held on to the tablet with both hands as she continued. “She replied, ‘Perhaps when we retire and we inherit my parents’ place we’ll also build you a photo studio in the back garage,’ and....she said this with a very serious expression, âbji.” Adena’s voice cracked as she finished the sentence, and Zareen let out an audible gasp.

Tears filled Kat’s eyes as she heard Adena and she remembered saying that earlier in the day, realizing what she had insinuated with that comment, and not really caring the impact that her statement made on her girlfriend. That moment she just said what she felt in her heart, and what she felt was pure love for her girl, a desire for a long future together.

Adena sniffled and began her farewell to her sister. So, Kat decided to just tiptoe back to the bedroom and forgo the wine, not letting Adena know she had heard that portion of the conversation with her sibling.

When Adena returned to the bedroom, Kat was next to the vanity gargling with Scope. She finished by lathering coco butter on her legs and arms, walking back and getting into bed with her tablet. “Hey, did you guys have a good talk?”

Adena stood silent at the foot of the bed for a few seconds, gazing at Kat affectionately. “We did, love. I’m going to brush my teeth and then call it a night. I’m really drained from the sun and the beach today.”

Kat closed out of her iPad and waited for Adena to return, turning off the lights and snuggling up to her side. With her forehead pressed up against Adena’s, she whispered, “I love you, Adena El-Amin.”

“I love you too, Kat Edison.”

- - - - -
On Sunday, their last day, they held hands and strolled around the quaint downtown area after eating lunch. It was another warm summer’s day and Adena was wearing a yellow sundress, a hijab in Kat’s favorite shade of blue, and strappy criss-cross sandals. Adena’s pretty pink lipstick finished off the look, and the whole ensemble made Kat’s heart skip a beat when she looked at her.

Kat took Adena into her favorite bookstore and other mom-and-pop shops, including ‘Frosty’s.’ “You’ll love this, Dee. It’s the best place to get ice cream and gelato in town.” Minutes later, they each walked out with two scoops of their favorite dessert in hand.

Adena held out a generous spoonful from her cup near Kat’s mouth, “Here love, try my Mucho Mango gelato.”

“Mmmm, that’s so good and fruity. I love it! Now have some from mine.” Kat held up her hand and Adena took a small bite of her ice cream and waffle cone. “It’s Coconut Colada, like it?”

“Mmhmm! Yes, so creamy.”

Kat grinned and leaned in to kiss Adena’s mouth, licking her upper lip before she pulled away. “You had a little bit left on your lip, but I got it.”

“Well then, I Thank you,” Adena chuckled with a sparkle in her eyes.

They approached an empty bench under a shady Weeping Willow tree and sat down to finish their desserts, afterwards walking back to their previously packed Jeep to go home.

- - - - -
The drive back to New York City was uneventful. They returned their vehicle to the rental facility in Chelsea and caught a cab east to Brooklyn. Both girls felt relaxed and were happy they went away together for some needed rest and relaxation. Once they dragged their suitcases inside Adena’s apartment, Kat saw the comfy bed and did a face plant on it with a loud, “Aye!”

Adena chuckled and followed her lead, sinking into the soft mattress next to Kat, rolling into a snug embrace with her girl.

“I don’t feel like unpacking nor doing laundry tonight.”

“Me neither, Deena. Let’s just stay like this and not move until tomorrow morning.”

Adena giggled. “Thank you for taking me to the Hamptons. I really enjoyed it and our lazy days together.”

Kat’s eyes bored into Adena’s. “I really enjoyed it, too. And, I really adored being with you all alone.

Adena peppered Kat’s face with kisses, then reached into her back pocket and sent her Maman a quick text letting her know they were back home safe. “Oh, I better also send Zareen a message so she doesn’t nag us.

“Yeah, I should send Mom one, too,” Kat replied, standing up to find her phone.

“I’ll be right back, baby. I need to pee.” Adena stood and left her phone plugged into the charger by the nightstand, walking over to the bathroom. Her phone buzzed again, just as she closed the door, and Kat leaned over to look at the screen. It was a reply message from Zareen:

Âbji, you are right. I think she’s the one.’

Chapter Text

“Where are you taking me to?” Adena questioned and giggled, as Kat pulled her by the hand through the tall grass, towards the back of the property. “It’s almost dawn, Kat, we can’t be out here now. We must return....please.”

Disregarding her girlfriend’s plea, Kat kept marching forward with Adena in tow. “You’ll see, you’ll see. Close your eyes, my love.”

The large barn door squeaked loudly on the metal track as Kat pulled it open. “Surprise!” A loud cry of voices resonated.

“Zareen?...Maman?...Baba?...What is going on here?” Adena said with a trembling voice, as shock washed over her face.

Maman responded with open arms, “Dokhtaram, so good to see you,” inviting Adena into a warm embrace.

The portly gray-haired man, wearing thick rimmed glasses, approached the two women as they hugged, placing his right hand on Adena’s shoulder, “Deltanget-am, Ade’h.”

Kat felt like any minute her face was going to crack from the giant smile she had plastered on it. She felt warm all over and her heart was heavy and full. “Hey, Romeo, over here!” She heard from over her left shoulder, and Jane and Sutton stepped out from behind an extra-large easel. On it was a huge canvas with a half-completed acrylic painting of a couple in long, flowing white gowns. Jane pointed behind Kat, so she turned in the other direction and saw her parents now having a conversation with the El-Amins. Adena was re-approaching her from the opposite side, gently rubbing her back to get her attention.

“Is Zareen translating?” Kat asked with furrowed brow, but then realized everyone was speaking Farsi...including her parents. “Wha- -?”

“Aziz-am!....Aziz-am!” Adena called while rubbing Kat’s back to rouse her from her deep slumber. “Your alarm has been going for several minutes now. Wake up, dear.”

For a few seconds Kat felt dazed and confused as she cracked open her eyes to the dusky apartment, experiencing consciousness again. She rubbed the dream from her eyes and reached over to her nightstand, tapping on her phone, turning off the melodic tune for good. She laid on her stomach and groaned, feeling her lover crawl on top of her, causing her body to press hard into the foam mattress pad.

Adena let out a sigh and Kat felt her warm breath fanning over her skin. “You know, maybe you shouldn’t set your alarm to ‘Ocean Eyes’ in the morning. Too mellow a tune. Maybe you need something from Lizzo? More upbeat and energetic, yes?Especially on Monday mornings, my love.”

Kat chuckled as Adena gave her warm, open mouth kisses across her back and skimmed her nose over her skin.

“You know, I was having the strangest dream.”

“Hmmm? That explains why you were mumbling and grunting a lot in your sleep.”

“We were in a crowded barn where everyone was speaking Farsi, but....amazingly I could understand exactly what was being said.”

“Wow, that is strange. Maybe it was that extra helping of my leftover Fesenjan from last night’s meal?”

Kat lifted up her head to turn over, and Adena rolled off of her back. “Maybe you’re rubbing off on me, babe.” She opened up her arms to invite Adena back in, and the Persian laid her head on Kat’s bare chest and gently caressed her shoulder.

“Mmhmm, I think we’re both rubbing off on each other because I have Robyn as my wake-up song.” Just then, ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ started playing on Adena’s cellphone. “Ugh, it’s time to get up. “I have so much editing to do and an expense report to complete for last Monday’s photo shoot in Rockefeller Center. I’m sure everyone wants to get paid and reimbursed for their work.” Adena rolled over to her nightstand and turned off the music. “And you, my dear, have an early staff meeting.”

Kat turned to face her girlfriend’s back. “Yep, back to reality....Hey, again, the Hamptons was wonderful. I’ve always loved going to my parents’ place, but now love it even more with you.”

“Me too, baby, me too.” Adena leaned backwards and Kat kissed her lips. “I’ll go put on the coffee while you shower. I’m working from home today. So at least I don’t have to rush and get dressed.”

“Well, aren’t you special,” Kat teased as she passed Adena and slapped her nude bottom.

- - - - -
“Okay, I’m off to Scarlet-world. I’ll kiss Jacqueline for you.” Kat stood by the front door, hanging her purse on her shoulder, brown lunch bag in her hand.

Adena padded over to her barefoot, chuckling and scrunching her nose up, “Don’t be so goofy...goofy girl. You know there’s only one Scarlet girl I want to kiss.” Adena pushed up on her tippy-toes to reach Kat’s lips.

“Uh-huh?”

“You’re so tall in those booties, I can barely kiss you.”

Kat dropped her purse and lunch on the floor and wrapped her hands around Adena’s lower back, maneuvering her backwards towards her couch. “No, no Kat! You’re going to be late and get fired. Jacqueline’s on to us and our morning....romps, as you refer to them.” Adena shook her head as she gently fought Kat off.

“Geez, you’re no fun and so serious in the mornings. I’m sure Jacqueline remembers what it’s like to be young and head-over-heels in love.”

Adena knitted her brows. “I’m only ‘so serious’ during the workweek....you make me sound uptight. Someone in this relationship has to be responsible and on time for work, right?”

The girls shared a chuckle and Kat pulled Adena forward by her oversized sleep shirt, rubbing noses. “True. Okay, have a great day, my responsible girlfriend. I’ll call you later when I come up for air at work.” Kat bent down and picked up her things off the floor, pecking Adena’s lips one last time before exiting slowly out the door.

“Bye love.”

“Gotta get that bread,” Kat yelled back from down the hallway, causing Adena to laugh.

- - - - -
As Kat rode the crowded and clamorous metro train west to work, she opened up Safari on her phone and typed ‘Manhattan jewelry store’ into the search bar, pressing on the map image to see the multitude of red bubbled locations it found. “Hmmph?” She quickly closed the window, receiving a text from Angie about a change in a meeting schedule.

“Good morning everyone!” It was close to eight o’clock when Kat pranced through the middle of the moderately busy bullpen, towards her small glass office in the rear, dropping off her purse, then walking back out towards the office kitchen to refrigerate her lunch. Alex greeted her as she passed by his desk and asked how her time off went. She briefly answered, “Great! Back to the work-grind at Scarlet,” and exited the large room, bumping into Sutton and Jane in the break room.

“Hi, how was the lover’s retreat?” Sutton asked with a wicked look on her face. “Are you ready to make an honest woman out of Adena, yet?”

Jane stood up and poured herself a cup of coffee. “Hello, Kat. What Sutton really wants to know is....did you guys ever leave the bed or the cottage?”

Kat got an apple from the fruit bowl, rinsed it in the sink and took a bite, shrugging her shoulders. “It was wonderful. Yes, we did a lot of...activities. Some of which involved wearing clothes and leaving the house. Adena really loved the Hamptons and my parents’ place.”

“Well, we’re very happy for you, babe.” Someday maybe we four girls can go together, or maybe we can all go with our partners. If it’s still hot and the boys come, perhaps we can rent a large house with a pool and all stay together. Doesn’t that sound good?”

“Yes, it does, Tiny Jane. A pool would be awesome.” Kat took another generous bite of her fruit and smiled. “Adena and I really enjoyed the hot tub this time. Especially in the cool night.”

“Oooh, and I bet you hot tubbed in that sexy two-piece you bought with me at the ‘Rag Outlet’ last month,” Sutton teased, licking peanut butter off a spoon.

Kat cleaned off apple juice from her chin. “No, actually we always skinny dipped. But, I wore it to the beach instead, and Deena loved it.” She paused for a moment and sat down. “And...yes...I’m thinking...” Kat stopped talking and looked around to make sure they were all alone in the space.

“Huh?” Sutton questioned and Jane stopped stirring her coffee, looking up.

She turned back to face both girls. “I’m answering your previous question, Sutton. Yes, I’m...I’m thinking of proposing to Adena.” Kat’s eyes darted back and forth between the two girls, while the statement sank in.

“O-M-G, Kat!” Jane delighted and dropped her spoon on the counter...”clink!”

“What the frick?!” Sutton yelled, clenching her fists.

“Shhhhhh! You guys, I don’t want anyone else to hear or it getting back to Adena.” Kat stood up and went to glance back out the door of the room. Sutton and Jane both stood up too and hugged Kat when she return to the table, then all three sat back down.

“I’m ecstatic for you, girl. But you guys don’t even live together, yet.”

“But they practically do, Sutton.” Jane shook her finger at the blonde. “When was the last time you slept alone in your loft, Kat?”

“Uhh, I think it was the night before Sage and Donald’s wedding when I had a bad headache. Yeah...and when Patrick made me go to that stupid social media training in Delaware.”

“Business trips don’t count.” Jane waved her hand and turned back towards Sutton. “But you see Sutton, they are basically living together between apartments. They have each other’s house key and keep clothes in both places.” She turned back to face Kat. “And, you guys have been seriously dating again for....eight months?”

Sutton pointed at Kat with her left hand, “Oh, plus all that time before you went to Paris....when you lived together....that can be added onto that equation, too.”

“That’s right,” Jane agreed.

“And babe, you both do tend to finish each other’s sentences a lot. A LOT! So yeah, I agree with you Jane, you are ready Kat.” Sutton stood up to put the peanut butter jar away, then immediately swung back around to face the girls. “When? When are you going to pop the big question?...Oh my god, have you looked at rings?” Sutton added in a hushed tone, “Do you think Adena will say yes?”

“Sutton!” Jane snapped with wide opened eyes and her hand on her forehead. “Well of course she’ll say yes!” She turned to face Kat, “You guys are so in love and crazy about each other. I can’t see either of you ever wanting to dissolve your relationship again.”

Kat was amused by her friends’ chatter. “No, me neither guys. Adena is it for me, she’s my soulmate. And....I was stupid and scared for not realizing it from the beginning.” Her eyes got misty as she continued. “I’m not making the same mistakes I made in the past. I’m not losing her ever again, if I can help it. I want to propose soon, when the moment is right.” Kat stood back up and threw her apple core into the garbage bin next to the fridge. “She’s going away overnight next Monday and Tuesday for a photo shoot in upstate New York. So I’m going ring shopping that Monday at lunchtime.”

Her friends gasped, “Ahhh!”

“Can you guys go shopping with me?”

“Yes!” Jane and Sutton answered in perfect unison.

- - - - -
After one o’clock, Kat took out her phone and dialed Adena. “Hey babe, just got out of my second meeting and thought I’d touch base before my third.”

“Hi baby! I’m at the market picking up some fresh produce and cold cuts. Do you need anything specific for me to also pick up?”

“Um....how ‘bout rice flour and all the fixings for me to make a pizza tonight. Toilet paper, too. Oh, and can you pick me up a new bottle of my conditioner? I’m almost out. If not, text me, I can stop by the drug store on the way home and get some more.”

“No problem, I can get that too. I’m also going to pick up more salt crystal and that lilac bubble bath you love. How is Scarlet?”

“Meh....Scarlet-ty. Lots of work piled up and everyone’s in a chatty mood. Not at all like our relaxing last four days together. But it pays the bills.” Kat heard Adena chuckle into the phone. “Thank you for sneaking in that last homemade oatmeal cookie in my lunch bag. I’m having it with coffee now.”

“You’re welcome. I’m picking up more ingredients to make another couple of batches. Maybe you can take some in to Sutton and Jane tomorrow. I know they love them and I’m adding walnuts and cranberries to some of them.”

“We’ll see if they are deserving of such delicacy,” Kat joked.

“Hey, I got my assignment for next Monday and Tuesday’s overnight photo shoot in upstate New York. Oliver emailed it to me directly. I’m going with him and Mitzi, from Fashion, and I’ll be taking Olivia, my photo lighting assistant. Apparently Scarlet’s scheduled a couple of A-lister super models for the shoot. I’ll let you know who they are tomorrow, when I get back into the office and have a one-on-one conversation with Oliver.”

“Very cool. Maybe it’s Gigi Hadid or Adut Akech, from Sudan. Wouldn’t that be a kicker” Kat put her feet up on her desk and played with her stapler. “Can’t wait to see the photos.”

“Well, it’s winter coats so it’s not too exiting a shoot. But at least they’re putting us up in a fancy hotel for two nights. I hope Olivia doesn’t snore because they’re making us share a room.”

“Ugh, cheap Scarlet Mag execs always trying to pinch penny’s. I’m sure Oliver never had to share a hotel room with a coworker.”

“Well, he’s lucky he’s the only guy going or they’d probably make him. I’m just lucky Mitzi said she’s staying with her sister those two nights, or they may have roomed all three of us together. I’ll just have to take off my hijab after we turn off the lights to sleep.”

“Yeah, I know.” Kat finished her cookie and sighed into the phone, “Imma gonna miss you. The bed will be so lonely and cold.”

“Aww, me too baby.”

“And, with Olivia in your room, does that mean you can’t send me....nudes?”

Adena snorted into the receiver, “Oh Kat, I think you can survive two nights without that. Besides, you have plenty on your phone of me to look at, and....oh gosh, it terrifies me to think what if you ever lost your phone....it could be so embarrassing.”

“Baby....password protected, no fears. Not even the FBI could break in and see the pictures. I promise.”

There was a knock on Kat’s office door and Adena could hear Angie’s voice. “Okay, thanks....Hey, I have to rush to the 40th floor for another meeting. Who knew being promoted meant I’d die of meeting overload. Anyhoo, love you and talk later. Mwah!”

“Okay, see you. Mwah!”

Aside from a brief exchange of a couple more texts in the late afternoon, the girls didn’t have much communication again until Kat returned home after eight o’clock, ready to eat dinner and spend the rest of the evening vegging out with her girl.

- - - - -
The rest of the workweek was hectic and seemed to move at a snail’s pace. But before Kat knew it, Sunday night came and she laid on the bed of Adena’s studio apartment watching her pack for the short work trip. She snapped a quick photo of Adena and sent it to the friend group chat, with the caption: ‘My girlfriend is beautiful even when she packs.’

Adena raised her eyes up and smirked, knowing Kat was taking her picture. “I’m sorry I have to go away for this, Kat. But it’s only a couple of nights. There are lots of leftovers and I just went to the grocery store and bought more coffee, bread, and fresh fruit. It’s all in the fridge for you. There’s also that coconut ice cream you like in the ice box.” Adena was sitting at the foot of her bed folding scarves, then pointed towards the window. “And, please don’t forget to water my fern. Remember, she likes it moist.”

“Okay, babe. Don’t worry about me, I’ll survive on cereal if I have to.” Kat’s phone buzzed on top of her abdomen, twice.

. . .

OT3 (Sutton):
She is!!!

. . .

OT3 (Jane):
And soon will be your fiancée!

“Who are you communicating with, babe?” Adena curiously asked, zipping up her makeup bag.

Kat quickly replied to the group with a smiley face emoji and locked her phone, slipping it under her pillow. “Oh, just asking Sutton and Jane how their muscles are feeling.” Kat bit at her cuticle on her right thumb. “Um, what were we saying?”

“You were telling me how you’re going to revert to your old single life and eat cereal for dinner.”

Kat broke out in laughter, holding the back of her open hand under her chin. “Yeah, that me,” and grinned ear to ear. “But,”... Kat rubbed Adena’s arm with her extended toes, “You can always send me nudes when you’re alone in the hotel bathroom, to keep me happy?” Kat gave a mischievous smile and Adena rolled her eyes, grinning.

“Oh we wouldn’t want you to be unhappy, now would we?” Adena crawled up the bed and planted two kisses on Kat’s lips, then quickly jumped off before Kat could hold her and distract her from her packing.

“Hey, want to join me in the bathtub? Jane’s trainer really kicked our butts this afternoon and I’m so sore I could cry.” Kat rubbed her thigh in pain.

“Well okay, crybaby, let’s go soak those achy muscles. Start the warm water and let me know when you’re inside the tub. Afterwards, I’ll give you a full body massage in bed, if you like.”

“Ooh-la-la, me like full body massages!” Kat said wiggling her eyebrows at Adena as she stiffly got up from the bed. “Ouch!”

Adena gave Kat’s ass a swat as she moved past her and instructed, “March!”

- - - - -
The next day, Kat woke up to Adena kissing her goodbye. “I’m leaving now, my ride’s downstairs. I will message you when we arrive at the hotel.”

Kat sat up and yawned, “Yawwwohn! Okay, baby. Let me put on my robe quickly and I’ll help you trudge the bags downstairs.”

“No, no, you can still sleep another 45 minutes. It’s a small rolling suitcase and carry-on and I can manage dragging them both down the stairs.”

“Nope, I insist.” Kat flung the sheets off and hopped out of bed, slipping into her robe and vans and grabbing the key off the hook. Outside, she kissed and hugged Adena, both waving goodbye as the Uber sped away down the avenue, in the light of dawn. Kat yawned again and headed back upstairs to shower.

- - - - -
It wasn’t until mid-Monday morning, that Kat heard from Adena again, as she texted to report she made it safely to Syracuse and would FaceTime at night. Kat sent a selfie pouting by her credenza, holding her right hand over her heart, with the caption, ‘I’ll miss you!’ She then sent Sutton and Jane a text reminding them of their promise to go with her to the jewelry store at noon.

. . .
Sutton:
Wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Jane:
I’ve cleared my whole calendar for you, babe!

- - - - -
At lunchtime, the three friends met up by Kat’s office and took a cab together to several jewelry stores, until Kat felt she found the right ring.

“Wow, guys this is it!” The one she settled on was a 14kt rose gold ring with a one karate heart shaped diamond, flanked by six smaller sapphires. “It’s absolutely stunning and so Adena,” Kat muttered, placing it on her own ring finger. “I would like to also have it engraved,” she told the jewelry clerk, taking a small post-it note out of her blazer pocket. “This is what I want engraved inside.”

“Very well, we can have the ring all ready for you by late Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Edison.”

“That’s perfect, I will pick it up on my way home from work Tuesday. Oh, and my fiancée’s fingers are slimmer than mine, so we’ll return and get it adjusted after I propose.” The clerk concurred and took Kat’s credit card to run the sale, returning a moment later with her receipt.

The girls exited the establishment holding hands and cheerful for their friend. “Hey, let’s get a quick bite here,” Kat suggested, and treated everyone to lunch at a hotdog stand outside the store.

“So why the sapphires?” Jane asked curiously, covering her mouth as she chewed.

“That’s both of our birthstone. Thought that would make the meaning of the engagement ring extra special, and make it unique.”

Sutton nodded her approval. “I didn’t know she was also born in September. Good choice, Kat. You are becoming so sentimental in your union with Adena.”

“Well, now that you have the ring, how and when do you plan to propose?” Jane questioned with mustard on her cheek.

“Maybe you should do it in bed, like right after you make steamy love,” Sutton suggested, wiping Jane’s face.

“Hmmph....I don’t know about that, Sutton. But I do know I want to do it soon.” Kat glanced across the street at the picturesque little park with blooming magnolia trees. “I think I’m going to take her to dinner and then suggest a walk along the water’s edge, in the park where our violinist plays.” Kat threw away her napkin and got out hand sanitizer for the group. “Should I get down on one knee, guys?”

“Definitely! Adena seems very romantic and she’d probably expect that.”

“Yeah, I agree with Sutton. And you should probably have a special speech written out and memorized. Something that’s about your special bond and relationship. Maybe quote from her favorite poet?” Jane said with jazz hands. “Let me know if you need a writer’s creative mind for assistance.”

“Okay, okay. I better get busy planning this. Sooo much to think about.” Kat sighed anxiously. Thanks for the advice, ladies. This is why I love you both so much.” Kat reached over and hugged her two friends. “We better go....TAXI!!”

- - - - -
Adena FaceTimed Kat right before ten o’clock, and Kat was already in bed wearing her glasses and looking at a work proposal. “Hey there, how’s my Spéos superstar?”

“Hi, she’s very exhausted and ready to crash into this big bed,” Adena responded with her head on her pillow and tired eyes. “Sorry to call so late, but we just got done half-hour ago. Olivia’s in the shower so we have some privacy for a few minutes. How was your day, beautiful?”

Kat smiled and shook her head at the phone screen. “It was good, busy but real good. My night is a bit lonely without you, but I know you’ll make it up to me later.” She scrunched her nose and winked at Adena.

“For sure, hun. Did you have cereal for dinner?” Adena chuckled.

“Heck, no! I warmed up that leftover chicken pasta you made the other night. It was muy bueno...errr, khub! Did you eat good, too?”

Adena yawned as she replied, “Ah, âre! Very good my love. We ended up working through lunch and Oliver then treated us to dinner in the hotel restaurant. But right now what I really want is a hot shower and bed.”

“How we’re the models? Anyone I know?”

“Na, not really. But three very temperamental women with over-inflated egos. Aaargh, I hate working with those types. That’s why we couldn’t stop for lunch. Because Oliver and Mitzi took so much extra-time catering to their every need. But at least this day’s over.”

“Yeah, one down and one to go. It’ll be over soon. And busy means the day flies by, right?”

“True baby, so true.” Kat saw Adena lift her eyes up, looking over her phone. “Oh, Olivia is done and will soon come out. We better end this call. I miss you, Kat.”

“I miss you, baby. Stay safe and we’ll talk again tomorrow. Love you so much!” Kat gave her phone screen a smooch, causing Adena to chuckle.

“Love you, too.” Adena lifted her hand up and threw Kat a kiss. The girls stared at each other for another minute, and the call ended.

Chapter Text

Tuesday night Kat stood barefoot in front of her dresser holding the open emerald green velvet hinged ring box or, as the jewelry store clerk referred to it, marriage box. She reached in and pinched the sparkly diamond and gemstones, pulling the item out and carefully laying it on her left palm, admiring its beauty up close. She recalled telling Jane and Sutton, ‘The ring is one of a kind, just like Adena, the love of my life and soon wife to be,’ and it gave her goosebumps.

Frozen in place for a few minutes, Kat contemplated the promise and commitment she was about to make, to spend the rest of her life with this one person. The thought both terrified and excited her, but she had never been more sure of a decision in her entire life. She looked up and across the room at the small digital clock on her nightstand. It was almost 8:30 and she needed to change out of her work clothes and hop into the shower, as Adena promised to call her at nine, before going to bed. So, placing the ring back within the cushions of the velvet marriage box, she hid it in the bottom of her underwear drawer, a place she knew was safe from being discovered prematurely by her lover, and stripped naked.

As hot water came in contact with delicate skin, dripping down and pooling around her feet, Kat closed her eyes and reminisced about her relationship with the Persian artist, from that faithful first time she walked into that photo studio on Greeley Avenue, to their first kiss in front of Adena’s building, to their memorable three-week trip through Peru, to heartache in Paris, to their not too recent love revival at Scarlet. It all had been an emotional rollercoaster of feelings that Kat had never experienced. Romantic love, she found, was unconditional, selfless, peaceful, needy, fiery, yet terrifying and hard work. And, although there were some very disappointing bumps along the road, Kat would never trade meeting and falling in love with Adena for anything in the world.

She turned off the water faucet with a twist and squeak from the metal pipes, and reached for her fluffy burgundy bath towel, encircling her damp body and exiting the stall onto the black memory foam bathmat Adena had recently purchased. There, in front of the steamed vanity mirror, Kat stood breaking down and crying. But these were not tears of sadness this go around, but rather tears of happiness. Happy tears brought on by the intensity of the emotions at hand, of her fervent love for Adena. “Oh god, Kat. You blubbering, sentimental fool. Good thing she’s not here to witness this, huh?” Kat muttered to herself as she wiped the condensation off the mirror, with a hand towel, and peered at her reflection in thought. If three years ago someone would have told her she’d be falling head-over-heels in love, let alone with another woman, she would have hyperventilated from the hysterical laughter caused by the suggestion.

- - - - -
Wednesday, Adena was back at Scarlet in the early afternoon. She rolled her suitcase out of the elevator and Kat met her in the 35th floor lobby holding a hot green tea and heart shaped balloon she got her. “Hey beautiful, welcome back!” The girls kissed quickly and moved into the Scarlet studio together.

“These are lovely, Kat. How did you know I was craving tea? Thank you, my love!” Adena took a sip of the warm liquid, then laid her handbag and cup down, tying the balloon to her desk lamp. Kat pushed her rolling bag by the wall behind her desk. “Oh Kat, I’m feeling very drained. But I have to hit the ground running on editing these photos to prepare for the next dot-com posting.”

“I missed you so much, babe.” Kat embraced the photographer, giving her a proper kiss this time. “Wow, your hands are so cold. I can feel them through my blouse,” she noted, kissing Adena’s forehead a couple of times. “So glad you’re back safe. I’m picking up Chinese on the way home and will draw you a warm bath after dinner. You can then go to bed early and catch up on sleep, okey-dokee?”

“Mmmm, that sounds great. Yes, I’m pretty tired. We worked two, 12 hour days straight and I’m beat.”

- - - - -
The remainder of the work week was busy, both girls swamped by projects and deadlines. The engagement ring in Kat’s underwear drawer was prevalent in her mind. But unfortunately, by Friday Adena was very sick with a cold she caught in Syracuse from one of the models. Kat had to postpone her plans of proposing on the weekend until Adena felt better.

“Kat, I feel so lousy. My head is pounding and I have cold sweats. One of the models was really ripe with a head cold.” Adena grabbed a sweater she kept on her office chair and threw it on. “Oh...I’m sorry, Joon. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to stay at my place alone to sleep all weekend.” Adena reached out and rubbed Kat’s forearm softly. “Plus, I don’t want you to also catch this.”

“Okay Deena, but it might already be incubating inside me, since we kissed a lot before we knew you were Typhoid Mary.” Kat joked as Adena coughed. “Regardless, I’ll stop by your place with orange juice and will brew you hot tea.” Kat felt Adena’s forehead with the back of her hand. “Oh gosh, you may also have a low-grade fever because you sure are clammy and warm. I’ll take your temperature when we get you home.”

Kat checked in on Adena all weekend long, bringing her food and doing her laundry. By Monday, Adena was feeling a bit better, still a bit pale but able to stand without feeling faint or breaking out into a sweat. But the next day, when Adena felt well enough to return to Scarlet, Kat came down with the same cold and went back to her loft sick, after her 2 p.m. staff meeting. She spent the rest of the workweek in bed, telling Adena over the phone, “I feel like a semi-truck ran me over...is this the end?”

Her wonderful girlfriend came by later that evening, with her humidifier, tissues, and homemade chicken soup. Kat was a pitiful sight and Adena made sure she also hydrated enough. “Here baby, you have to drink lots of fluids.” Adena filled two glasses full and placed them next to Kat, on her nightstand. “Okay, one has plain water and the other one is apple juice. I’ve got bendy straws in them, so no excuses...okay? I want you to finish them both.” Kat nodded her head in her pillow as Adena waved her finger at her. “At least your fever finally broke. Now, stick out your tongue and let me see your throat.”

“Aaaaah!”

Adena smirked, “That’s a pretty pink and raw looking throat. I’m going to get you salt water to gargle, too. Maybe some vapor rub on the bottom of your feet and chest? Maman swears by vaporub as a remedy for all ailments.”

“Okay doctor....how do you say doctor in Farsi,” Kat asked playing with Adena’s tassels on the sleeves of her sweater.

“Doktor,” Adena replied and smoothed Kat’s soft curls behind her ear.”

Kat looked up and gave Adena a small smile. “Well then...merci doktor Ade’h.”

“Khahesh mikonam, Kat.” Adena smiled and kissed the crown of Kat’s head. “Now, I’m going to go prepare that gargling water for you.”

Kat let her arm go limp and grunted into her bed.

- - - - -
Another week passed before Kat returned to work. “Hey girl, feeling better? You’re not as pale anymore,” Sage pointed out as Kat walked back into Scarlet holding a Kleenex box and plastic container with homemade vegetable soup.

“Yeah, a lot better. This thing hit both Adena and me so hard. I hadn’t been this sick in like five years.” Kat covered her mouth with her sleeve and coughed.

“Okay...well...on that note, I’m off to use hand sanitizer and stay away from you both.” The feisty coworker took a few steps backwards and turned around and left.

“Thanks Sage, you’re always so frickin’ understanding and supportive.”

Sage laughed and waived Kat off, as Kat entered her office for the first time in a week of missing work.

After her 10 a.m. staff meeting Jane stopped by her desk to see how she was doing. “Hey babe, you feeling better? Your nose is still very red and you look tired.”

“Gee, thanks.” Kat took her glasses off and rubbed her eyes with the cuff of her shirt sleeves, sighing. “I’m hanging in there. My goal is to just survive today so I can go home and face-plant into my bed.”

“I saw Adena earlier and she looks much better than you. Speaking of which...” Jane turned her head and looked behind her, standing and closing Kat’s office door, before returning to the guest chair in front of the desk. “So....guess you haven’t been able to give her the big ring?”

“God no, we’ve both been too sick. I want it all to be memorable and close to perfect, so I’m waiting to feel 100%. Hopefully next week.” Kat started coughing again and bent down to dig through her purse for a lozenge.

“Well, you’re lucky Jacqueline is on vacation and you have staff now to run your department while you’re sick. Just take it easy and feel better....Hey, want me to pick you up some lunch when I go out?”

“No thanks, girl. I have Adena’s yummy homemade soup for later. My appetite’s finally coming back.”

Jane smirked and stood up to leave, “I’m so happy Adena is looking after you, now. You deserve the best, sweetie...Again, goals!” Jane opened the door and walked out, waving at Kat, “See you later.”

- - - - -
In all, Kat had the engagement ring hidden in the bottom of her underwear drawer for three weeks before both she and Adena were completely over their illnesses and felt normal. The following week, a healthy Kat finally made reservations at a very fancy Persian restaurant in Lower Manhattan, for that Saturday night. She knew the violinist was at the riverfront park until 9 PM on Saturdays, so she made the dinner reservations for 6:30. Her plan was to say she needed to go back to her loft to change into something nicer, getting the ring and returning later for Adena. They’d go eat, then head over to the park, strolling around until they came upon the musician. Once the man finished playing at nine, Kat hoped to take Adena closer to the water and propose.

On Thursday night Kat offered to cook at her place for a change of pace. After dinner dishes and pots were washed and stored away, she went to sit next to Adena on the couch and tell her about their Saturday night date. Adena had just finished FaceTiming her mother on her tablet and was searching the U.S. Immigration website on her computer.

“So babe, I made 6:30 dinner reservations at ‘The Persian Princess’ for Saturday night. I want to go on a date.”

“Um...that sounds lovely. So, what’s the occasion?” Adena said, closing her laptop and twisting to face Kat.

“Can’t I just decide I want to take my beautiful girl to dinner some place special?”

“Yes, I guess...but, do I know this girl?” Adena teased with her forehead puckered, then grinned and softly rubbed Kat’s cheek with her hand.

Kat quickly turned her head into Adena’s palm and kissed it. “You might know her. She’s this very bold and sexy Muslim photographer...” Kat winked, “...that I can’t keep my hands off of.” She pulled on Adena’s t-shirt bottom and let go. “But seriously, I thought we’d dress up fancy for the dinner then take a stroll through the riverfront park.”

“Oooh, and maybe we can go see our violinist, Kat. We haven’t stopped by in so long and we love his music.” Adena said all giddy.

Kat was amused and laughed. “Yes, yes, what a great idea. Then it’s a date?”

“It’s a date!” Adena pinched both Kat’s cheeks and returned to her laptop, unbeknownst of Kat’s plan and how both their lives were about to change.

- - - - -
Friday morning Kat awoke grinning and had a spring in her step all day long at work. But on Saturday, it was a different story. Waking up unexpectedly early and feeling very anxious, Kat thought she was going to hyperventilate. Her eyes popped open and she turned over towards Adena to watch her sleep. Her girlfriend was peaceful, seemed like had no cares in the world, and unaware of what was happening. Kat, on the other hand, could hear her own heartbeat pounding in her ears and was harboring a constant fluttery feeling in her stomach. She tried to relax by taking a couple of slow deep breaths in and out, while stretching her hand behind her for her cellphone. Although it was early, she really needed to reach out for some moral support from her friends. So she messaged the group chat hoping someone was awake to console her.

OT3 (Kat):
Hey guys, you up?

. . .

Jane:
Yes @ gym
Tony’s kicking my ass!
What up?

Kat:
Tonight is proposal night.
Really nervous!

Jane:
You got this babe!
Just don’t forget ring & speech!

Jane:
Sutton???!!!

Kat:
I think Sutton’s still sleeping
It’s only 7:20

Jane:
Yeah probs
Why u up so early on Sat?

Kat:
Nervous wreck - can’t sleep
Feels like there’s a butterfly garden fluttering in my belly!

Jane:
Where’s your woman now?

Kat:
She’s next to me asleep.
So beautiful when she sleeps...

Jane:
It’ll be great, babe
Butterflies are good.
She’s going to say YES!
OMG KAT, she’s going to say YES!!!

Kat:
What if I puke?

Jane:
You won’t.
Just take deep breaths and have a glass of wine with dinner.

Kat:
Don’t know if I’ll be able to eat.
Too many butterflies.

Jane:
Butterflies mean you are very excited.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall!

Kat:
Oh no she’s stirring!
I better go.
Wanna make her breakfast in bed.

Jane:
GOALS...goals...u guys are goals!

Kat:
Okay, bye :3
Luv u

Jane:
Love u 2!
Oh, don’t forget game night Sunday
You and your fiancée...Wow!!!
You promised you’d both come tomorrow.
Don’t break your promise.

Kat:
Yes, we’ll be there
unless she says NO...
...then find me jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge?

Jane:
Kat, NOT funny. :(
She’s gonna say YES!
You got this kid.

Kat:
*sigh*
Ok bye

Kat locked her phone and placed it back on the nightstand. She laid on her back looking up at the ceiling, trying to picture the night’s upcoming scenario, how she wanted it all to turn out. She did a mental walkthrough a couple more times and took a few more deep breaths. She had her speech typed out and printed on a piece of paper she hid deep in her purse, just in case she needed to see it in the restaurant’s bathroom one more time. She’d get the ring from her loft and pick up a bunch of yellow tulips to give Adena when she returned to pick her up.

A little whimper escaped a sleeping Adena, and Kat rolled over on her side once more to face her. The early morning light filtered in making Adena look angelic and breathtakingly beautiful, even with her hair all in a tangle. Kat didn’t care if she snored, or didn’t eat bread crust, or was terribly afraid of spiders. She was the love of her life, the person who completed and understood her, who loved her unconditionally back. Kat smiled, admiring the curves of her face, her long luscious eyelashes, and her slightly chapped full lips. She took her index finger and lightly traced down her nose, across her lips, to her dimpled chin. Adena shifted a bit and opened her eyes, turning her head to face Kat.

In a raspy, breathy voice, Adena said, “Hey.”

“Hey babe.” Kat whispered back.

Adena smiled and turned over towards her bedmate, wrapping her leg around Kat’s. Both girls gazed intimately at each other in silence.

“Mmmm, what’s up, aziz-am? Why so serious?”

“Just thinking how lucky I am today. How before I met you I was such a different person.”

Adena studied Kat’s face as she spoke, caressing Kat’s hip with her finger tips.

Kat continued, “Do you believe in fate, Adena? Because I do now.”

Adena moistened her lips with her tongue before speaking. “Well, I believe a higher being has plans for all of us here on earth. And, we as humans decide which particular path we take in that plan. We meet people and have experiences along the way based on the choices we make, but the events are completely out of our control. So, I guess that could be fate.”

“What about soulmates, do you believe in soulmates?”

Adena took her time answering Kat’s next question. Turning her head and gazing up to the ceiling for a moment, then back towards Kat. “Yes. There are people you can't shake free from, no matter how hard you tried. It’s a connection so powerful, physically and emotionally, that the fire doesn’t get extinguished. So yes, I do believe in soulmates.”

Kat nodded in agreement. “Yeah, me too. A kindred spirit. Someone that just gets you.” Kat tucked some of Adena’s hair behind her ear then pulled her body closer by her hips, slowly peppering her face with kisses. “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too,” Adena responded with her eyes closed, reveling in the feeling and moment.

Suddenly Kat’s stomach growled loudly and both girls giggled. Adena rubbed Kat’s middle and said, “I think your tummy needs some breakfast. I’m going to make us both something to eat, okay?” And, pressing noses together, added, “I like having these deep conversations in bed. Even if some of them scare me a bit.”

“They scare me a bit too, Deena. But I’ve always loved that I can be totally open with you, you never judge me.” Kat felt too nervous to cook breakfast so she let Adena take over.

“I love that about you, too.” Adena kissed Kat’s nose and got up, picking up her silk robe from the floor and slipping it on, headed towards the kitchen.

- - - - -
Kat remained alert in bed while pans and cabinets banged in the kitchen. When Kat heard Adena turn off the gas stove, she threw the covers off and approached her, kissing her cheek and dropping off her phone on the counter. “Yum, those scrambled eggs and peppers look good. I’ll be right back, gotta pee and wash up first.” Kat strolled off, shutting the door and using the bathroom, washing her face and popping in her contacts. She returned back to the kitchen and sat on a stool, “Gosh, I’m famished,” reaching for her phone and noticing she had new text messages.

Sutton:
Sorry I’m late to this party!
Why you guys up so early? Girl needs her beauty sleep!
Don’t fret Kat, you got this babe
Sutton:
Jane, did I leave my pink halter top there?
Check ur closet and let me know
Kat u bettr text us later!!!

“Everything okay?” Adena asked, dishing out breakfast on plates and meeting Kat’s gaze when she lifted her eyes off her phone’s screen.

“Oh yeah, everything’s great. Uh...just Angie with a work reminder.” Kat remained expressionless and purposely looked back down, away from Adena’s deep stare, then locked her phone. “Mmmm, that smells goods! Thank you, baby. I’ll make breakfast next time,” she said, hoping to deflect the attention away from her to the food, praying Adena hadn’t looked at her phone screen when she was in the bathroom.

But Adena asked a follow up question, leading Kat to believe she had seen the message. “Is everything good at work and with your family?”

“Everything’s great. Just same old, same old. No worries, hun.” Kat extended her left hand across the island counter and held Adena’s free hand while they ate.

“Hmm,” Adena responded unamused.

Kat knew she was a terrible lier, especially when it involved her girlfriend, so she changed the subject again. “Hey...I’m going to head home after two o’clock to go dress up for you. I don’t want to just wear torn jeans to dinner -” Kat chuckled, “- and you can dress up too and surprise me with your outfit...yes? I’ll swing back by at at 5:45 and pick you up. Sound okay?”

Adena played with her fork on her plate. “Yeah, of course is good.” Kat could hear hesitation in her voice, meaning she could tell something was up. But Kat quickly stood and scurried over to the kitchen sink to do the empty dishes.

- - - - -
At 3 o’clock, Kat rushed from Adena’s and headed to her Chelsea loft to get ready. She had preselected her dinner ensemble three weeks ago with the help of Sutton and Jane, so that part would be quick and easy. A freshly showered Kat stood upstairs in front of her closet’s tall mirror, admiring her outfit choice and let out a slow breath. “Welp, here we go Kat.” She ran down the stairs and grabbed the velvet marriage box out of her drawer and placed it deep in her handbag, then ordered a ride to Brooklyn.

On her way back to Adena’s place, she asked the Uber driver to make two pit stops. The first, at her favorite flower shop where she picked up a bunch of yellow tulips. And, the second at the ‘French Patisserie’ in SoHo for a box of chocolate eclairs. Arriving at Adena’s building Kat felt very anxious, with sweaty palms and a slight shortness of breath. She knocked on the apartment door and inhaled deeply as she waited, quickly exhaling and gaining her composure when Adena opened up. The moment she saw her lover’s smile, Kat knew there was no question she was making the right decision to propose later tonight. “You look gorg.”

“Hi baby!... so do you. Oh, you got me tulips? They’re lovely,” Adena said with a tilt of her head and kiss, taking the flower bunch in her hands.

“Lovely like you! And I bought eclairs for later tonight, if you’re in the mood.” Kat held up the white cardboard box. “Or, we can also save them for breakfast tomorrow.”

Adena turned around and headed towards the kitchen, with Kat close behind. “Why didn’t you use your key, silly?”

“Oh, because this is a date and I wanted it to feel like it.” Kat was fidgeting with her purse straps, hoping Adena wouldn’t see her hands shaking.

“Okay?” Adena looked up and cupped her chin, pulling her in for another kiss. “You’re so cute and romantic.” Kat put the eclairs in the fridge while Adena filled a glass vase with water for the flowers.

“Let’s go, I can’t wait for our date to begin.” Adena grabbed her purse and they headed outside, taking a cab to the restaurant.

- - - - -
The dinner at the restaurant was perfect and everything went without a hitch. Kat was actually able to calm down and enjoy the ambiance. There was candlelight, traditional music, and a tasty meal that made Adena think of her childhood.

“I love their food here, reminds me so much of Maman’s and my grandmother’s cooking. Makes me long for my time back home when we were children and didn’t have a care in the world.” Adena sighed, looking around the establishment.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. Adulthood is so...so overrated.” Kat smiled and rolled her eyes.

With plates cleared and check paid, Kat felt once more for the velvet box in the bottom of her purse. “Well, shall we head out and walk some of this off in the park?” Adena suggested, and both women stood, with Kat leading Adena by the hand outside.

Heading two blocks down the street, the lovers entered the park, meandering through the cobblestone lined path near the water’s edge. About 50 yards in, they came upon a white gazebo where a couple was passionately kissing on the bench.

Kat and Adena looked at each other and giggled. “Boy, looks like love is in the air tonight,” Kat whispered in Adena’s ear, lifting their intertwined hands and kissing the back of the smaller one.

“Yes, it is.” Adena gave Kat a seductive look back and kissed her hand in return.

Up ahead they could make out a small crowd of onlookers beyond the azalea bushes. A faint melodic tune carried through the night’s air, becoming louder as they reached the crowd.

“Oh baby, it’s our violinist just as we hoped,” Adena announced with glee.

“Yes your wish came true, Dee. Kat and Adena stopped to listen, arms holding each other by the waist. “I have deja vu from that summer night two years ago,” Kat whispered into Adena’s ear.”

“Yes...me too,” she answered with a gleam in her eyes.

Kat kept her sight on Adena. “I remember exactly how I felt at that moment, standing next to you but unable to hold you like tonight. I was envious of all the other couples around us who had their arms around their dates and significant others.”

Adena chuckled quietly and kissed Kat’s cheek. “I also wanted to touch you so badly. As I recall, I had to cross my arms to behave.”

Kat chuckled, “Really? So why didn’t you?”

“Because I was terrified of scaring you away. I didn’t want to lose a good thing...your new friendship. Although, as I’ve told you, my intentions were not all friendly.” Adena grinned when Kat turned to look into her dark eyes.

“Adena El-Amin, I want you to know that that night you made me into such a nervous wreck in this same park. My legs felt like spaghetti, and I wasn’t even drinking,” Kat quirked.

“Well, you’ve come a long way baby. Now you’re the one that makes my legs into pasta.”

Kat snickered and corrected, “You mean spaghetti, baby...es-paghetti,” emphasized with an Italian hand gesture.

- - - - -
Shortly after nine o’clock, the street musician concluded his performance. The crowd clapped and dispersed, and Kat proposed they continue their stroll along the river, until Adena stopped and peered out over the water to the city skyline. “Is a beautiful night. A little humid but the light breeze helps make it comfortable, no?”

Trying to regulated her breathing and with a garden of butterflies growing in her abdomen, Kat glanced at Adena with penetrating eyes, “Yes, it is very beautiful.” She felt this was the best time for the big moment to happen, so she wiped her clammy hands on her pleated skirt and took ahold of one of Adena’s hands.

Adena glanced at Kat and smiled shyly, rubbing her arm lovingly. “What are you thinking about, Joon? You seem very pensive tonight.”

Kat was glad she was hiding her jitters from Adena and cleared her throat to speak, “You know, when I was growing up my parents didn’t really watch too much television. But rather, they liked to listen to LP’s some nights, mostly after dinner, to unwind from a long day of work.” Kat smiled and raised a brow. “Dad called it his personal therapy. I guess after listening to so many clients with challenging issues, he needed an avenue to release his own stress.”

“Of course,” Adena nodded in agreement. Kat felt a bit dazed but was surprised she wasn’t fumbling any of her speech. “I remember my dad would play this one particular song from his childhood every night for my mother. He said that grandpa would always listen to it when he worked on his car and dad helped out by handing him tools. The chorus of the song goes, ‘Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breath and to love you’. As a kid, I thought the lyrics were dumb. Just think, this guy was saying he didn’t need food, sleep, nor anything else...just air and to love this person.”

“Um?” Adena looked at Kat then towards the water.

Kat inhaled deeply and exhaled, shuffling her feet and continued, “You know, two weeks before we went to the Hamptons there was a night I stayed until almost 11 o’clock at Scarlet, helping Sutton organize and steam dresses for Oliver’s Los Angeles trip.”

“Yes, I remember, Kat.”

“Well, that night I heard that song again, Adena.The janitor mopping the lobby floor had a radio on his cart and that song was playing. I immediately thought of my childhood. But as I rode home to you...I-I finally got it. I got what the artist meant.” As Kat’s heart raced, she pulled Adena closer by their joined hand. “When you have someone so very special in your life you are content just being alive and in love, everything else is minor.”

Adena turned and looked back at Kat, who had a very serious expression on her face. “That’s so lovely, Kat,” Adena said in a voice so low it was barely audible.

Kat remained quiet, reaching in her purse, switching to grasp Adena’s left hand with her now trembling hand. She held the small box up as she knelt down on one knee. Adena glanced down with her eyes wide and lips parted, speechless and stunned.

“Adena El-Amin, you are the air that I breath and the love of my life. You complete me in every way and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. So, will you marry me?”

Adena gaped at her for a moment, then her eyes welled up with tears as she realized what Kat just said. “Oh Kat...yes...yes...I’d love to marry you!”

Kat stood back up and the two embraced tightly, neither wanting to let go. Kat knew Adena could now feel her racing pulse and shallowed breathing, as she could feel Adena’s heart pounding up against her chest.

Eventually, Adena loosened her hold and held Kat’s face with her hands, kissing her deeply. When their kiss broke, she pressed their foreheads together murmuring, “You are the air that I breath too, eshgham.”

Kat felt so moved and relieved, her eyes flooded with happy tears. It suddenly dawned on her that Adena hadn’t seen the engagement ring yet, and offered, “Oh hey, let me put the ring on you.” Kat opened up the hinged holder and placed the diamond ring on her fiancée’s finger.

Adena held her hand out in front of them both. “Oh wow, it is so brilliant and beautiful. I love it, Kat!”

Kat felt such warmth and joy, and replied, “I’m so happy you’re happy, Dee,” embracing her girl. “Hey, let’s just go home now and celebrate on the couch.”

“Yes love, let’s go home.” Adena reached for Kat’s face with both hands and pulled her in for one more kiss by the water. Kat took out her cellphone and snapped a selfie of them, with Adena holding up her ring.

As they started walking away, a young couple stopped them on the sidewalk. The young man explained how his girlfriend videotaped Kat on one knee proposing. “I hope that was alright, guys.” The girl then asked if it was okay to airdrop the brief video on their phones so they’d have the recorded memory. Kat and Adena were elated and thanked them. The video was a bit dark and didn’t have sound but it was good to have. The guy said, “Witnessing your engagement just made our own romantic night out complete.” The two couples said their goodbyes and walked away in different directions, Kat and Adena eager to take a cab home.

The ladies strolled back towards the entrance of the park where they came upon a large pond lined with boulders. Kat released Adena’s hand and ran up to the water’s edge and climbed up on the smallest boulder, yelling at the top of her lungs, “I love Adena El-Amin and she’s going to marry me!!!”

Adena covered her mouth and laughed at Kat’s antics, but soon hopped on top of the rock besides her silly fiancée. “Ayeeeee! Asheghetam Kat Edison!!!”

- - - - -
Once home, Kat watched as Adena couldn’t stop gawking at her ring. She had a sparkle in her eyes as she declared, “I love my ring, baby. I can’t stop looking at it,” and undid her hijab by the entry table.

Kat looked at their reflection in the console’s mirror and wrapped her arms around Adena from behind. “I’m so happy you love it. I knew it was going to be to your liking. We can get it resized at lunchtime next week, as the jeweler is close to Scarlet.”

“Adena responded with a nod and, “I can’t wait to show the ring off at work.”

“Uh-huh, everyone will be so jealous.” Then, with eyelids drooped Kat asked, “Hey, can we just wash up and go to bed? I feel extremely drained, like that time I ran in the Scarlet 5K.”

“Sure baby, you had a lot of excitement and stress today.” Adena turned in Kat’s arms and chuckled, pulling her forward by the hips. She pressed their lips together and gave Kat a gentle kiss. “Let’s get ready and snuggle under the covers.”

They both washed up and changed into cotton tanks and shorts, crawling under the cool sheets. As they held and kissed, Kat felt her eyelids getting heavy. The adrenaline rush was wearing off and she was crashing fast. She saw Adena take off her engagement ring and run her finger softly over the side of the ring, smiling as she read the engraving inside aloud, “My heart, my soulmate.”

“Asheghetam, Adena.”

“Asheghetam, Kat.”

Before drifting to sleep Kat turned and outstretched for her phone, remembering she needed to do one more thing tonight. She tapped out a quick text to Jane and Sutton, then posted on Instagram the selfie she took after proposing by the river. Both messages were captioned: #SheSaidYes.

Plugging her phone to the bedside charger and setting it to ‘Do Not Disturb’, Kat effortlessly drifted off to sleep in her fiancée’s loving arms.