I got out of the DEO on time, which was a rarity, and was pleasantly surprised to find Kelly waiting. She was leaning against my bike wearing dark jeans and a green shirt with one of my leather jackets over it. It was a good thing she spoke first because the sight made me forget how.
“I hope you don’t mind. I couldn’t wait to see you,” she said.
I was close enough, now, that I could kiss her so I did. We hadn’t seen each other since the day before yesterday and if we were at my apartment in this moment the kiss would have been very different. Still, I allowed myself a telling grip on her waist.
“I missed you,” I said after.
“I can tell,” she replied, breathless and smiling.
“How long do I have with you?” I asked.
She turned slightly to show me the overnight bag on her shoulder and I couldn’t hide my happiness if I tried. We put on our helmets and she climbed on behind me. Her arms were secured around my torso before I even started the ignition. The warmth of her front against my back was a delicious precursor to the anticipated activities of the evening.
When I finally parked outside my apartment, I wasn’t thinking about anything but having Kelly’s clothes in a pile on my floor. Once we reached my door, I had difficulty getting my key in the lock because Kelly took the brief pause to kiss me and we stumbled inside, still engaged.
I kicked the door shut because my hands were occupied and all of my sensations were focused on her. Her bag, that was only in the way, fell forgotten to the floor and I enjoyed the ability to press my body further into hers. My knee was between her legs and I could feel the radiating heat. My fingertips traveled lower to seek the accompanying wetness.
The voice was urgent and not Kelly’s so I jerked away from her, noticing for the first time that my lights were on and it smelled like something was cooking. I turned to look behind me, recognizing the voice immediately.
“Mom? What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve called. Your sister said you were out of work and I thought you could use some dinner. I didn’t... Kara didn’t mention...”
She trailed off, gesturing toward the two of us and I took that moment to glance in Kelly’s direction. Her hand was over her face, clearly mortified by the entire situation. I put a hand on her shoulder, hoping to quell it a little. I cleared my throat, preparing for an introduction I hadn’t planned to make for a while yet.
“This is Kelly. My girlfriend.”
My mother took a tentative step forward to shake Kelly’s hand and when Kelly met her halfway I breathed a small sigh of relief. I needed to know what Kelly was thinking because wondering was driving me crazy.
“Nice to meet you, Kelly.”
“You too, Dr. Danvers. I’ve heard wonderful things about you from Alex,” she said, avoiding eye contact.
There was a slight tremble in her voice and I was working on a way to give her an out. It might have been easier if I hadn’t still been in shock about the whole thing.
“Excuse me for a minute. I’m just going to use the restroom,” Kelly said.
She was heading there before I could even respond and the quickness of her steps matched the pounding of my heart. When the door closed behind her, there was silence for a moment before I walked into the kitchen to grab a beer. My mom followed.
“This isn’t happening,” I said, mostly to myself.
“I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t cause any problems, Alex. If I’d known about Kelly-“
“I was going to tell you, Mom. Really. It’s just... after everything with Maggie-“
“You don’t have to explain,” she interrupted.
“No. I do. I don’t want you to think it’s because of you. Meeting the parents is a big deal. I’m just trying to go slow. I don’t want to mess up. But I guess I already did. I’m sure this wasn’t how she saw this introduction going.”
“Well, that makes three of us. Listen, I have my things at Kara’s. I’ll go. You and Kelly enjoy dinner. We can have lunch tomorrow if you’re available.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Just let me talk to Kelly.”
“Actually, you know what, I forgot to pick up dessert. I’ll go get us a pie and be back in about 20 minutes. How does that sound?”
“Sounds perfect. Thanks, Mom.”
“I’d love Kelly to stay for dinner if she’s comfortable.”
She put on her coat to leave and when the door closed behind her, I took a healthy gulp of my beer and opened another for Kelly. I figured if I needed one, she certainly did. After a deep exhale, I approached the bathroom door, knocking gently.
“Babe? She’s gone,” I said.
A second later, Kelly opened the door and leaned against the jamb.
“She didn’t have to leave. Spend time with your mother. I can see you tomorrow,” she said.
I handed her the beer and she took a sip right away. There was no way this conversation wasn’t going to be awkward so I just had to push through it if I didn’t want her to go.
“It’s fine. I know you weren’t expecting her. Just call me when-“
“No. I’m sorry about what happened. My mom has a key. She usually tells me when she’s coming. I’m embarrassed. You seem like you’re embarrassed.”
“Why would I be embarrassed? Just because your hand was five seconds from being inside my pants? Pfft,” she said, waving a hand dismissively.
“More like one second,” I replied.
“Not helpful,” she said, taking a bigger sip.
“Sorry. Anyway, she left to pick up dessert. She made dinner. She wants you to stay. I want you to stay. But only if you want to. I know it’s a lot to ask.”
“It’s going to be so awkward.”
“I know. I have more alcohol, though.”
She laughed a little and I considered it a win. I leaned in to kiss her, but was met with her finger on my lips.
“I’ll stay. But I’m leaving after dessert.”
“I thought you were spending the night,” I pouted.
“The last thing I need right now is your mother leaving tonight and thinking we’re just going to pick up where we left off earlier.”
“It’s non-negotiable. As a matter of fact, why don’t you go make your mom a drink. Keep those hands busy.”
“But... we’re okay?” I asked.
“Of course,” she said.
I lingered on her expression, making sure she wasn’t just saying it. I knew she wasn’t like that, though. It was one of the things I loved about her. Her openness was the only reason we were together in the first place. Who knows how long it would have been before I had the courage to admit my feelings for her. Especially with James in the back of my mind.
I returned to the kitchen, pulling three wine glasses from the cabinet above the sink. Into each, I poured a heavy handed serving of a rich 50 year port I saved for special occasions. There wasn’t much that was more special to me than dinner with my mother and girlfriend even though it wasn’t going to be the easiest night.
Just as I put the bottle back, there was a loud knock on the door. I laughed a little at my mom’s effort to make her presence known. I grabbed her glass and headed to the door. Once she was inside, I handed her the glass while taking the pie from her.
“It’s an apple pie. I hope that’s okay.”
“It’s perfect, Mom. Thanks,” I said.
I went to set it down on the counter and got three plates from the cabinet. My mom took her coat off, careful not to spill her wine, and hung it up on the rack.
“I’m glad you could stay, Kelly. I hope you like stir fry.”
“I do. I haven’t had it in a while. It was very nice of you to invite me to join you, Dr. Danvers.”
“Eliza. Please. And I look forward to getting to know you.”
“Why don’t you both sit down and I’ll bring everything over,” I said, grabbing forks from the drawer.
I could tell they were both still tense by the way they moved toward the table and I hoped it would subside as it got later and we had more to drink. Kelly sat by the window and my mother sat diagonally from her, across from my empty chair. I started scooping food onto the first plate when I heard my mother speak after a few sips of wine.
“Mom, we don’t have to... Can we just forget it ever happened? Please,” I begged, mostly for Kelly’s sake.
“Just let me say one thing,” she said.
I sighed heavily, knowing I didn’t have a choice and started preparing the next plate.
“You’re both adults. You don’t need to be embarrassed.”
Even as she said it, Kelly looked intently anywhere but at my mother. I walked over to the table with one plate in each hand.
“And yet...” I said.
“If anyone should be, it’s me. I could’ve prevented all of this with a text message and for that, I’m sorry. That being said, I promise I’ll never bring it up again.”
I simultaneously set a plate down in front of each of them before going back to the kitchen for my own. I sat down and thought about what subject to switch the conversation to when Kelly spoke up.
“Thank you for saying that. It... I feel better. I don’t want things to be awkward. I don’t like that that was your first impression of me.”
“Really, don’t worry.”
Kelly smiled and we started eating, now a little more comfortable.
“This is delicious.”
“Thank you. This was how I got Alex to start eating vegetables when she was little.”
“Well, it’s no wonder she loves them so much now,” she replied.
The tension in my stomach relaxed and things were suddenly so normal. It made me feel a new kind of warmth for Kelly that I didn’t recognize. But I liked it. I was impressed by how well she kept it together. Better than me. My mother’s admission must have appealed to the psychologist in her.
“So, did you grow up in National City, Kelly?”
“No. Actually, I just moved here a couple of months ago. I came to see my brother James in the hospital and decided to stay.”
“That’s right,” Kelly replied.
“I remember how worried Alex was for him. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“Well, thankfully I didn’t have to do it alone.”
She looked at me then and I wanted to kiss her so badly. A kiss that would let her know that she’d never have to go through anything alone again. Instead, I rubbed her shoulder, unsure how she was feeling now that her brother’s near death experience had been brought up.
“Did you know each other before this happened?” my mother asked.
“No, actually. I’d met Kara a few times and heard a lot about Alex, but we met for the first time at the hospital.”
“What?” she asked innocently.
“What she’s really asking is how we started dating,” I said to Kelly.
“Oh, that. Well, we just started spending a lot of time together and I just wanted to keep doing that. I decided I should just tell her how I felt. I just got lucky that she felt the same.”
“Not luck,” I replied, shaking my head.
I got up to get the bottle of port because I noticed my mom’s glass was nearly empty. When I arrived back at the table I topped off all three glasses.
“You know, if you ever want to see where Alex grew up, I’d love for you both to come to Midvale for a visit.”
“Please tell me there are photo albums,” Kelly said.
“Two full boxes,” my mother replied.
“Whoa. Okay, those photo albums are never to see the light of day,” I said.
The sound of them laughing together, even at my expense, was one of my new favorite sounds. Throughout the rest of dinner I mostly observed their interactions, relieved by how well they got along. I felt silly for being so afraid of this.
“Looks like it’s time for dessert,” my mother said now that the plates were empty.
She was about to get up for the pie when Kelly reached out a hand to stop her.
“Please, let me get it.”
She got up and stacked the dirty dishes before taking them to the sink.
“I’ll help you,” I said, about to stand.
“No. Stay. I can do it,” she said.
I relaxed back into my chair and wondered if I even had room for dessert. I heard the soft clinking as she got the smaller plates and some more forks. She carried those in one hand and the pie and my biggest knife in the other. My happiness was beginning to dwindle as my time with her kept winding down.
Between bites, they talked about work. Mom was fascinated by Kelly’s work at Obsidian North and Kelly, much to my surprise, had some familiarity with my mother’s research. They got so deep into the discussion that it had gotten pretty late. Kelly pulled her phone out of her pocket when the conversation died down.
“Sorry. I don’t mean to be on my phone. I’m just setting up my ride,” she said, focused on her screen.
“You’re going?” my mother asked.
“Yes. I have an early day tomorrow. Besides, I’m sure you’d like to have some one-on-one time with Alex.”
Kelly stood and went to get her jacket from the rack. My mother and I met her at the door to say goodbye. I really didn’t want her to go, but I knew she wouldn’t let me talk her into staying.
“Thank you again for having me tonight. It’s been wonderful getting to know you,” Kelly said.
My mom pulled her into a hug.
“I’m so happy I got to meet you, Kelly. Have a safe trip home.”
“Let me walk you out,” I said, taking her hand.
Kelly kissed me on the cheek in lieu of telling me no. It didn’t matter how much time we spent together. It was never enough. But she’d explained her decision earlier and I understood so I let go of her hand and she opened the door.
“Will you text me when you get home?” I asked.
“I will,” she replied.
She gave me one last lingering smile before walking toward the parking lot and I only shut the door when I couldn’t see her anymore. If my mother didn’t already know how smitten I was, she certainly did now. I went to sit on the couch and she sat down next to me.
“I like her,” she said, simply.
“So do I.”
“No. You love her. Have you told her?”
“I told you, I’m taking things slow.”
“Sweetheart... Kelly isn’t Maggie.”
“I know that,” I responded a little harshly.
“I know you know that. All I’m saying is that I understand why you’re being cautious, but there is such a thing as being too cautious.”
“I’m starting to see that. You know, I was absolutely dreading having to introduce you to her. But then it happened unexpectedly and, somehow, everything was fine. And she wants kids, Mom,” I said.
I felt a knot forming in my throat because that, above everything else, showed me how lucky I really was to have her.
“So, that’s come up?”
“Yeah. Also unexpectedly. I didn’t tell you because it was hard for me to talk about, but I had an adoption fall through. Kelly was there when I got the call and she helped me work through everything I was feeling. She’s the reason I’m okay.”
Admitting that was what finally set my tears loose. She scooted closer to me and held me, knowing how hard this had all been. I wiped my eyes and tried to explain what I was feeling.
“Kara told me I could have everything I wanted. It was hard to believe her. To trust that. But there was only ever one choice. And look. She turned out to be right. Kelly knew that I could have a child at any moment and she still wanted to be with me,” I said, more tears coming.
“Then why are you crying?” she asked softly.
“Because I’m so happy. And relieved. This is what I wanted for myself even when I thought it wasn’t possible.”
“And you deserve it, Alex.”
“I’m glad you’re here, Mom.”
I finally pulled out of the embrace and grabbed a tissue from the box on my side table. I wondered how much of my openness was the wine, but I was happy that my mother knew how much Kelly meant to me.
“It’s getting late. I should get going.”
“Why don’t you stay here tonight. Please? I can have Kara fly your stuff over.”
“Are you sure?”