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Rules of Engagement & Marriage

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Late Saturday afternoon, a mix of tunes drifted quietly out of the small Bluetooth speaker shaped like a vintage radio Kat had given Adena as a present. The women had just finished taking a long shower together which concluded on Adena’s bed. It had been exactly one week since Kat proposed and both girls were floating on cloud nine since that moment.

“Mmmm!” Adena moaned, as Kat laid on top of her, ghosting her nose over her stomach. “Will you still love me the same when I’m old and gray....and have a big belly?”

“You mean a potbelly? Yes...of course! There will just be more of you to love. Plus, I’ll be old, gray, and probably also have a potbelly. So we’ll counterbalance each other.” Kat giggled with her nose pressed into Adena’s bellybutton, laying small kisses on the smooth skin just below. She began to bat and feather her eyelashes over sensitive skin to get a reaction out of the Persian.

“Stop, that tickles!” Adena screeched and pushed Kat’s head up, off her belly.

“Don’t blame me, it was the butterflies.” Kat grinned and laid her head back down on Adena’s stomach, sighing, “Ahhh, life is good babe,” delighting in the now familiar softness and warmth of Adena’s body.

“Yes, it is.” Adena stroked Kat’s soft loose curls, taking in a deep breath and also sighing, sending Kat’s head bobbing up, then down on her inflating and deflating middle.

“Thank you for the beautiful ring,” Kat held up her left hand, rubbing her fingers together to twirl the antique gold band around. “I love it.” At dinner, on Thursday night, Adena had surprised Kat with her ancestor’s special ring she kept stored in her ornate tanned leather box, also asking Kat to marry her. She had waited until she served dessert, hiding it under a chocolate wafer on Kat’s plate. Adena watched with great amusement as her fiancée lifted the cookie up to eat and found the item, catching her off-guard.

“You’re welcome, ātashé del-am. I’m glad it fits and is not too big on you. I was always afraid to wear it because it swam on my fingers. And I didn’t want to get it altered.”

Kat agreed and nodded, “Yes, for sure. I don’t think I’ll ever take it off.” She scooted up and kissed Adena’s chin and lips, gazing closely into beautiful dark eyes, adding, “Well, maybe just for our wedding ceremony so you can put it back on me.”

“Mmmmm!” Adena stopped their kiss and spoke into Kat’s lips, “Hey...want some tea? I’m going to go fix us both a cup of warm chamomile tea with honey, if you like to join me.” Kat moved off of her lover and felt a quick peck on her temple, watching as Adena got off the bed and walked around the brightly decorated partition, over to the kitchen sink. She heard her fill the electric tea kettle with fresh water and plug it in. Kat padded around the kitchen island and wrapped her hands around the artist’s middle from behind, as adena lifted her arms up and took two mugs from the kitchen wall hooks.

Gently nipping at Adena’s earlobe, Kat questioned, “Hmmm, how many children should we have?”

“Oh...um, I think is best to start with one,” Adena teased, placing a tea bag in each mug.

“Ha, ha, very funny. But I do have distant Edison cousins that are identical twins.”

“So do I, on Maman’s side of the family.”

“Oh, wow.” Kat froze and stared down at the mugs, with narrowed eyes, contemplating what it would be like to suddenly have two babies at once.

Adena turned in Kat’s arms and asked, “How many do you want us to have?”

Kat pressed her nose against Adena’s, “At least two. I don’t want to have an only child like me. It’s very quiet and lonely growing up. Plus then as an adult, you don’t have anyone to commiserate with.” She pulled up her head, “Like, I look at you and Zareen. I love and envy what you guys have. I wish growing up I would have had a brother to wrestle with, or kick a soccer ball with, or climb the neighbor’s fence with and pick crab apples.” Kat let out a small suppressed chuckle.

Adena chuckled too, “Boy, did we get in trouble for that after the grumpy old neighbor told Baba on us.” Adena’s head drooped, “We got the belt, and I was blamed because I was the oldest and should have known better.”

Kat winced and softly caressed her fiancée’s cheek with her thumb, saying matter-of-factly, “Hey, we are not hitting our children.”

Adena looked back up at her with a sad expression and head shake, “No, we’re not.”

Kat nodded and continued, “But now as an adult, I wish I had a sister to phone and hang out with, reminiscing about our childhood and teenage years.” Adena’s eyes softened as Kat spoke and she listened. “Plus I think that when my parents are elderly, I won’t have a sibling to help me with them. The stress of aging parents will be all on my shoulders...” Kat hung her head down, “...not looking forward to that one.”

“No, no Kat,” Adena shook her head, lifting Kat’s head up by her chin, “I will be there for you. We will be there together to deal with our three elderly parents, I promise.”

“I know you will, babe. That’s not what I mean.” Kat shrugged her shoulders and looked out the small window over the kitchen sink. “I just think we should avoid having an only child because that’s a lot of burden placed on one person in life, that’s all.”

Adena placed her open palms above Kat’s chest and gave her a sympathetic smile. “Okay, I never realized you felt that way. I see your point and understand, we definitely should have two children. I will pray that we’ll be able to have them both. And if not, we can adopt, right?”

“Yes, we will try and have our own babies, but adopt if we have to. As long as I have that experience with you, I’m happy.”

Adena caressed Kat’s ear and the soft curls on the nape of her neck. “I can’t wait to see you holding our newborn. It’ll be such an amazing moment for me to experience.”

Kat leaned in and pressed their foreheads together. “I’m hoping for a girl, but also just want a healthy baby, regardless of the sex...a happy infant and for you to have a healthy, safe pregnancy and delivery.”

“It’ll be okay, baby.” Adena kissed Kat softly as she locked her arms around her neck and pulled her forward. “Allah will watch over me and the little one.”

Kat pulled back and released Adena’s lips. “Hey, but I want to wait a couple of years after we’re married....before we try to have a child.”

“Okay...is fine,” Adena nodded in agreement.

“Yeh, I’m selfish and want you all to myself at first. I want to be able to walk around our place naked at all hours of the day, like we’re doing right now. I want to be able to make love to you anywhere and everywhere....like on the kitchen floor....on the living room couch....up against the front door....tee-hee!” Kat pushed Adena back up against the kitchen counter and pressed their hips together. “Uninterrupted and unadulterated hot, kinky sex everywhere in our house.”

Adena chuckled, “Ooh, sounds like we’ll be busy newlyweds.”

“You betcha! I also want to make love in a car.”

“The car we don’t have?” The shorter woman shook her head teasingly.

Kat smirked down and Adena quickly kissed her nose. “Let’s rent a van and drive down to Florida so I can make love to you in seven different states...and the District of Columbia.” She nuzzled her nose into Adena’s neck, causing her to break out with laughter.

“Oh silly, you really have it bad. Maybe we need another visit to our....bed, before we go out tonight?” Kat took a step back and off of Adena, pulling her slowly forward by the waist until she locked their lips together and began walking backwards towards the bedroom, never breaking their kiss. Adena mumbled in her mouth, “Mmmph...send Sutton a message that we’ll be a bit late for the comedy show....to save us two seats at their table....and, Mmmm....that maybe we’ll meet them afterwards at the restaurant....okay?”

“Mmhmm.” Kat felt the bed hit the back of her knees, immediately sitting down and pulling Adena on top of her.

- - - - -
The Lyft dropped off the couple in front of ‘Lauff’s Comedy Club’ in Dumbo. They rushed out of the car to pick up their two tickets from the will-call window near the venue's main entrance, turning towards the doors where the bouncer let them inside.

“Sutton’s going to kill us,” Adena whispered in Kat’s ear. The room was dimly lit as the show was already in progress. A comedy duo was on stage and the crowd was whistling and cheering them on as they did some foolish dance with feather boas.

Kat held Adena securely by the hand and snaked their way to a table in the middle of the venue. “There they are, come on babe....excuse us...sorry!” The couple moved between tight spaces to their seats, bumping against elbows and chairs.

“Well, well...the lovebirds finally made it,” Sutton whispered an inch from Kat’s face as she sat down and pulled out Adena’s chair for her to also sit.

“Sorry, sorry. I know we’re a bit late, but it’s my fault.....Hi Richard, welcome back to NYC,” Kat whispered back, leaning away from Sutton to see her boyfriend.

“Adena...Kat...it’s good to see you both again,” Richard nodded and smiled, patting Sutton’s shoulder.

“Why were you late? You knew we had reservations for seven.” A man shushed them from a table behind, causing the blonde to turn and glare at him.

“Sorry Sutton, I made Kat late with....my conversations,” Adena leaned in and whispered.

“We’re only 15 minutes late....chill woman,” Kat scolded, looking at her wrist watch.

“That must have been some interesting....conversations,” Sutton huffed raising her brow at them.

“Okay, okay. We’re truly sorry.” Kat reconfirmed. “I can’t help it that my fiancée is so hot and I have no willpower, geez.” Adena blushed and bowed her head.

“Oh well...you guys missed the first comedian. She was hilarious. Did the best impressions.”

The waitress stopped by with popcorn and Kat placed drink orders. “You couldn’t convince Jane to join us?”

“She didn’t want to be a third wheel at the show or dinner tonight, but said she may join us when we’re done at the restaurant. Think you guys are still down for dancing at Club Rumpus afterwards?”

Kat looked towards Adena and they nodded and answered in unison, “Absolutely!”

Richard found their behavior amusing and chuckled. Sutton couldn’t resist and snickered too, “Oh, you guys are my favorite couple.”

- - - - -
The restaurant was just a few blocks from the comedy club and the two couples each walked holding hands, down the four semi-busy blocks to get to it. “Not a bad September night, but the chill is in the air. This winter is supposed to be a cold one in the northeast,” Richard commented.

“That’s global warming for ya, babe.” Sutton grinned, suddenly looking down towards Kat’s shoes and seeing the gold band on her left hand. “Hey, when did you get that ring!” She reached down to grab it as they walked. “Is that from you, Adena?”

“No, one of the hot models from the last Scarlet photo shoot gave it to me....ha!” Kat joked and Adena rolled her eyes, stretching her neck up to kiss her on the cheek sweetly.

“Yes, I gave it to Kat two night’s ago. It’s an antique from my grandmother. It was her mother’s, my great-grandmother’s, one year anniversary ring. Her husband got it for her when he traveled to India. He was a trader for Iran’s gemstone industry back then and purchased a lot of gold during his travels. I’ve had it stored all these years to give to someone special.” The fiancées looked tenderly into each other’s eyes and quickly kissed on the lips.

Sutton halted in front of Kat and pulled Richard’s arm to stop, too. “Let me see it up close, Kat.” Kat lifted up her arm and gave the blonde her hand. “Since you were on assignment out of the office yesterday, Jane and I missed this on your hand. It’s very rare and ornate, with a small sapphire and some diamonds in the middle. Lovely, Adena!”

“Thank you,” Adena smiled. “Lovely like Kat.”

“It’s special and I love it.” Kat looked towards Adena, and they shared a smile. “It also has Farsi writing around the sides, see?” Kat turned her hand over and wiggled her ring finger. “It translates to, ‘For a long and happy union to come.’

“Aww!” Sutton released her friend’s hand. “It’s so unique and beautiful. Adena must truly love you Kat, to give you such a special gift. Especially since the ring is probably one of a kind and irreplaceable.” Sutton looked straight into Adena’s eyes, “You had it stored away all these years and no one else was worthy of the ring? I hope Kat said yes when you proposed,” she jested.

“Well....maybe. She might have had to bribe me with her body first,” Kat replied, winking and looking up from her hand into Adena’s soft eyes, kissing her on the lips once more.

“The ring is very special, but so is Kat. I’m sure mâdarbozorg is smiling down at us right now, happy my nâmzad is wearing her mother’s prized ring.”

Sutton opened her arms wide and hugged both girls at once. “For sure she is.”

“Uhmmm, we are so happy for you both, but we better keep moving or they’ll give away our table at the restaurant,” Richard advised.

- - - - -
The restaurant was crowded and noisy, as expected for a Saturday night. As soon as they were seated, Kat saw Sutton reach into her skirt pocket to answer a call. “Hello?! Jane?!” Sutton yelled, as she plugged her other ear with her free hand and ducked down behind the table.

Richard tapped his girlfriend on the upper back and signaled for her to walk to the bathroom hallway. “It’s quieter over there, babe,” he said.

As Sutton stood and walked away quickly, Kat followed her, kissing Adena’s cheek. “I’ll be right back...need to use the potty.”

Sutton followed Kat into the ladies’ room. “I don’t know, probably like 10:30-ish,” the blonde responded into the phone. “Okay, we’ll see you guys then. Be there or be square!” Sutton ended the call and put the phone back in her skirt pocket, twirling 360 degrees. “Have I mentioned how much I LOVE skirts with pockets, Katherine?”

Kat giggled, exiting the stall. “What did Jane say, is she bringing someone to Rumpus? She needs to start dating other guys to get over Pinstripe.”

“Just Justin. He’s in town and staying at her place for a couple of days.” Sutton entered the empty stall and closed the door.

“Is that her youngest brother?”

“Yep, too bad he’s so short like Jane, cuz he’s very cute.”

“Uh...Excuse me, you are also TAKEN.”

“Hey, a girl can still look. I’m in a relationship, not dead. I’m sure you will still check out other women once you come off that cloud nine of yours, right?”

“Nope. And, why would you even say that to me?” Kat answered incrediously.

Sutton flushed the toilet and Kat couldn’t hear her reply from all the gushing water noise. They washed their hands and re-joined their significant others at the table for dinner.

- - - - -
The two couples entered the crowded club after paying the hefty cover charge at the basement door. “This better be worth the 20 clams per person just to get in,” Sutton complained. Adena and Kat both replied with a head shake, as it was hard to communicate with all the clamorous mob. The club was on the edge of the NYU campus and was frequented by a lot of college students.

Kat held Adena’s hand as she shimmied and side-stepped to get around sweaty bodies and tight places, leading the way. She used her forearm and elbow to gently push people back and away from Adena, and was glad to see a familiar face waving and smiling at them from a back table. “There’s Jane and Justin, Sutton!” Kat shouted and pointed in front of her to signal where they should go.

There were brief introductions of Jane’s sibling and the three couples got settled into the large booth, ordering shots and drinks. “Hubba, hubba...look at you Tiny Jane, with your sheer black blouse and lacy bralette underneath. You came to fight and conquer tonight,” Sutton exclaimed.

Jane’s friends soon found out Justin was the comedian of the Sloan family, having everyone at the booth laughing and entertained with his outlandish capers. “Yeah, I’m a cameraman for ABC and can tell you the best gossip on those prima donnas we all know on television. They’re all just a bunch of needy, neurotic humans with fame and money.”

At midnight there was a change in DJs and the music was suddenly lit, as Kat put it. So the group got up and started dancing. There had been a round of shots of tequila taken at the table and Kat, Jane, and Sutton were feeling giddy and loose on the dance floor. Justin was a good dancer and kept up with his little sister’s moves. “Go Beyoncé, go Beyoncé!” Sutton and Kat chanted at Jane. Kat would sometimes twerk and then grind behind Adena, causing her fiancée to giggle and cover her face shyly. Sutton mimicked and took turns twerking and grinding behind Richard, Kat, and Jane, making Justin and Adena hold their bellies in laughter.

When the DJ put on a twangy tune, Kat announced she was going to use the ladies’ room. Adena joined her this time following her fiancée to the alternate upstairs facilities, as they saw a big line of women at the downstairs bathroom. “Hey babe, let’s try upstairs,” Kat pointed to the neon sign reading ‘Restrooms’ with the upwards red arrow hanging on the wall.

On the way back down to their table, Kat got briefly separated from Adena’s side, as the hallways were narrow and piled up tight with bodies huddled in line. The artist reached the bottom of the stairs first and came upon a group of men standing by the landing area. “Who the hell are you supposed to be!” A surfer-looking dude referred to Adena, stepping forward to block her path and forcing the petite woman to stop and look up at him.

“Excuse me sir, I’m just trying to get by to join my friends over there,” Adena gestured to his left side. She could smell strong alcohol on his breath and his buddies were beginning to encircle her, taunting her in an intimidation tactic. She wasn’t a stranger to this kind of treatment, and didn’t want any trouble, so she remained calm and polite.

“Get the fuck out of her way!” Kat came from behind Adena pushing through the circle and pointing a finger at the bully.

“Fuck you, bitch! This doesn’t pertain to you,” the stocky man bit back, as Kat noticed the man and his friends were all wearing ‘Zeta Beta Tau’ hoodies or sweatshirts. Kat was familiar with this fraternity from her partying days in college. She remembered recently reading an article in the ‘NYU Alum Greek Life Post’, that they were currently on probation for several campus altercations. Specifically, the campus police report stated they were brawling with a rival group during several college games and campus parties, as well as acting up at neighboring bars.

“Oh like hell it does!” Kat stood all protective in front of Adena, who gripped the back of Kat’s jean jacket and pulled her back, closer to her and away from the man.

“Is okay, Aziz-am. I’m okay. Don’t encourage them further. Let’s just go, please...walk away!” Adena pleaded in Kat’s ear, but the blonde brute was drunk and needed to flex his macho ego in front of his guy friends, so he swung his hands around, inadvertently slapping Kat’s Dixie cup full of booze out of her hand, sending the liquid flying onto Kat’s clothes and the cup to the floor.

“Hey, you asshole prick!” Kat reacted, swiftly shaking out her jacket and cotton top to get some of the liquid beads off of her. “You’re going to regret you did that!”

The man puffed his chest out like an ostentatious rooster, pointing his finger inches from Kat’s face, “You and your towel head bitch aren’t going anywhere!”

“Kat, please!” Adena begged desperately and pulled more on Kat’s jacket, as the artist felt her heart was going to burst with fear. She saw a small crowd was starting to collect around them as they heard the commotion, not sure if anyone would intervene.

“No, this is bullshit!” Kat lifted and drew her hands into tight fists ready to take a swing, when suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she saw her whole table of friends pushing through the circle to get to them.

“Out of the way,” Sutton yelled, as she and Jane scooted through a small gap of bodies huddled together, protectively stopping in front of Kat and Adena, creating a barrier with their small frames.

“Hey gentlemen, you don’t want to do this,” Richard proclaimed, also pushing in with Justin by his side.

“Stand down, dudes,” Justin ordered, with hands up in front of his face.

“Oh...but maybe they do want to do this. Then they’ll get their sorry-ass fraternity suspended, seeing as they are already on probation for multiple altercations at events like these!” Kat shouted, reaching over Sutton’s shoulder to point her own finger back in the guy’s face.

Two of the other boys looked at each other, and a third said, “Come on Chip, let’s fucking blow this joint. They’re not worth it,” pulling Chip by the hoodie sleeve. As they turned to leave, Chip swung his elbow backwards, freeing his friend’s grip off of his sleeve, and accidentally connected with Richard’s face, hitting him hard on the right eye socket.

“Oh shit!” Richard covered his face complaining, and Sutton shoved the guy from behind as he hastily exited the scene.

Sutton turned back to face her boyfriend, “Are you okay, babe?”

“I’m getting the bouncers!” Jane hollered as the four men scurried away and out of the establishment.

Kat was pretty shook up and grateful her friends came to help them. But as she turned to hug Adena, she saw nothing but panic in her girl’s eyes. “Baby, it’s okay. The fools are gone...you’re safe! Let’s go home.”

“Oh, Kat....why?” Adena sniffed and Kat embraced her.

- - - - -
Back at Jane’s place, Richard laid on the guest bed with his head on Sutton’s lap, large one gallon bag filled with eye cubes over his throbbing eye. “Man, sorry hun. Guess you’re flying back to San Fran with a black eye tomorrow morning,” Sutton consoled him.

Richard lifted the cold bag and pressed on his face with gentle fingertips, “Ouch! So glad I don’t work for the Safford Board anymore.” He grimaced but then began to laugh. The laughter became contagious and spread around the room. Kat laughed too, glancing over to Adena who had been quiet since they returned to Jane’s, and was the only person not laughing. Kat was nervous and knew she was going to get an earful about her reaction to the situation when they returned home.

After the laughing died down, both Sutton and Jane glanced at each other, then looked towards Adena and Kat. Jane turned back to Sutton and lifted her brow slightly at the blonde in an inquisitive manner. They knew Adena was upset at the way Kat may have handled the altercation.

Kat looked uncomfortable and spoke up, “Hey guys, thank you so much for bravely coming to our rescue back at the bar. Adena and I appreciate it. You guys are good friends.”

“Yeppers...now we know why they call it Club Rumpus,” Sutton jested. “One things for sure man, they won’t see our sorry asses there again. No siree bob!”

“Hey, what are friends for. Those four privileged thugs were in the wrong and got off easy. We should have beat their asses,” Jane added to try and take some of the heat off of Kat’s reaction. But the group knew Jane was not the aggressive type, and chuckled.

Adena then spoke in a calm, soft voice, “Yes, thank you all for your support and friendship. I’m sorry you had to witness that. Hope it didn’t totally ruin our lovely evening.” She turned and gave Kat a half-smile, “Kat, is really late and we should get home.”

Kat nodded and rubbed the back of her own neck, looking at her watch and standing to leave. “Gosh yes, it’s 2:40 a.m. let’s go home and crash.” She reached down and took a small towel off of the coffee table. “Thank you Jane for the glass of water and also this rag for me to wipe my jacket and shirt off.”

“You’re welcome, babe.” Jane reached out and took the moist kitchen tea towel from her friend’s hand as she stood to leave. Kat walked Adena towards the coat rack with her hand to her lower back, and helped her put on her leather jacket and then put her own on. “Goodbye everyone. Have a safe flight Richard,” Kat said and waived. “Hope your eye doesn’t bruise badly.”

- - - - -
In the Lyft ride back to Brooklyn the girls sat quietly in the backseat, loosely holding hands. Kat leaned towards Adena a couple of times and pecked her cheek. Adena was expressionless and kept looking forward, but responded the second time by laying her head on Kat’s shoulder.

At home, Kat silently hung up their jackets on hooks while Adena unraveled her hijab, leaving it on the entry console for another day’s worry. As Kat turned to walk towards the closet, Adena grabbed her by a pant loop from behind, stopping her. “I’m not mad at you.” Kat turned and looked into her eyes. “What you did was very brave and I would have stood in front of you too, to protect you from that atrocious man.” Adena reached out and took Kat’s hands in hers. “But, I’m upset because when I asked you to back down, you didn’t.”

Kat swallowed and ducked her head. “Adena. I’m not going to let anyone talk to you that way, so disrespectful. I’m going to hurt them if - -“

“Is okay.” Adena interrupted. “Listen to yourself, Kat. It just terrifies me with worry that you are the one that’s going to get hurt one day, defending my pride against someone twice your size. And, I could never...NEVER forgive myself if that happened.” Adena’s voice cracked as she spoke and Kat lifted her hands up to caress her face.

“Well, then what do you want me to do next time? And you know there will unfortunately be a next time. I can’t just stand there and let it happen.” Kat shook her head and dropped her hands down by her side. “My gut reaction is to step in and fight for you, because...because...I love you!” Kat started crying and Adena quickly held her.

“Oh joon, come here.”

After a few minutes of hugging and back rubbing, Kat was calm. So, Adena suggested they change into pajamas and wash up. “Is okay, joon. Come, let’s get ready and go to bed so we can snuggle.”

In bed, Adena laid with her head on her pillow, staring up at the ceiling. Kat half-laid on top of her fiancée with her hair down, getting her scalp delicately massaged. After a long silence, Adena inhaled deeply and spoke. “I’m considering not wearing my hijab when we go out together at night. Especially to a bar full of alcohol and rowdy people.”

Kat lifted her head and leaned up on her elbows to look into Adena’s eyes, shaking her head. “No, no you can’t do that Dee. It’s wrong, that’s who you are.”

Adena slightly shrugged her shoulders. “Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t written as mandatory to wear the hijab. It won’t change me inside, only on the outside. I’ll always be the proud lesbian Muslim you know and love.” Adena gave a tight lip smile and pushed Kat’s curls away from her face.

“But...if you do that, it would mean they won,” Kat quipped.

Adena cupped Kat’s round cheeks. “They’d only win if you got hurt, and I’m never going to let that happen, baby.”

A lone tear rolled down Kat’s cheek and Adena wiped it with her thumb. Kat leaned forward and laid back down on Adena, as she was before. Adena reached over to the small Tiffany style lamp and turned it off, making the room go pitch black.

“I love you, Adena.”

“Asheghetam, Kat.”

- - - - -
Mid-Sunday morning, Adena got ready to go to a nearby studio to meet with Firuze for a couple of hours, while Kat prepared for a jog with her friends. “Okay, I’ll see you back at home for dinner, babe. Have a safe run and say hello to the girls. Remember to tell them that I’ll go next time? I love you.” Adena kissed her girl’s lips, grabbed her large art portfolio and left.

“Will do...hello to Firuze, too. Stay safe and text me when you get there. Love you, Dee.” Kat watched Adena exit the apartment in her tight skinny blue jeans, baggy sweater, and matching hijab. She finished putting on her socks and running shoes, heading out a few minutes later to Jane’s place.

“Hey guys!” Kat entered the SoHo apartment as Sutton opened the door. “Adena says hello and sorry she can’t join us today. She’ll try and come jogging next Sunday, for sure.”

Jane was pushing off a wall, in a runner’s stretch, and Kat and Sutton joined in. “Sounds like a plan,” Jane responded, walking past them and taking the spare key off a hook. The three were soon off and running outside.

“So...did you get in trouble last night after you got home?” Sutton asked huffing, keeping in pace with her two friends who were jogging next to her down the wide sidewalk.

Jane perked up and turned towards Kat, “Yeah, was Adena truly mad at you for standing up to that asshole?”

Kat shook her head at them, “No, of course she’s not mad I stuck up for her...fucking privileged class a-holes! That’s one thing I certainly don’t miss about NYU. All the rich kids with fucking closed minds and sense of entitlement.”

“Come on, not all NYU rich kids are bad...look at you, babe,” Jane pointed out.

“Yeah, for sure!” Sutton added, with a nod of the head towards her curly haired friend.

“Thanks guys. However, Adena was upset because I didn’t back down sooner and I didn’t walk away from the confrontation when she asked me to.” The threesome separated briefly to get around a mob of senior citizens who were apparently in a walking club, all wearing the same aqua colored t-shirts.

They reassembled again and continued their side-by-side run, and Kat went on, “She’s just afraid that I’m going to get myself really in trouble some day.”

“Like when you got arrested for punching the guy in Brooklyn?” Sutton asked.

“No...more like get physically hurt by one of these creeps.” Jane turned and looked at Kat, forehead furrowed with concern for her friend. “Aah, god! I just can’t stand there and let anyone treat her like that, guys. Say such terrible things to her just ‘cuz they’re ignorant and hateful.” Kat’s frustration could be heard in her voice.

The girls came to an intersection and jogged in place while a horse drawn carriage trotted by. “Well, what can you do to handle the next situation better?”

“Or better yet, Sutton, let’s try and figure out what Kat and Adena can do to avoid such a situation?”

Kat shook her head and wiped sweat off her forehead with the back of her wrist. The trio crossed the street and entered Central Park. Kat held up her fingers and listed three choices, “Beyond just stay put at home, number one; never go out together, number two; or move to a deserted island, number three. There’s just no way to avoid it guys. Xenophobia and racism is everywhere. Especially Islamophobia in our country. I’m so, so sick of it all.”

“Yeah, it is sickening alright,” Jane said and Sutton agreed nodding her head.

- - - - -
The girls ran their usual 45 minute route then headed to brunch after their cool down. They avoided the subject of the ugly-bar situation with Kat until she brought it up again while eating. “Adena wants to stop wearing her hijab when we’re out together.”

Jane reacted wide eyed, “Oh...isn’t that against her religious convictions?”

“Yeah, can she do that?” Sutton asked.

Kat let out a big sigh, “She can choose to do whatever she wants, guys. She says it won’t make her any less a Muslim. But I just feel it’s wrong she has to do that because of a negative outside force, and not just decide to on her own free will. Additionally, I feel like she’s doing it because of me...which is extra-upsetting and makes me feel guilty.”

Jane took a small sip of her mimosa, pausing to think about what her friend just said. She reached out and laid her hand gently on Kat’s forearm, “Now you guys have entered another realm of your relationship, Kat. This is the more serious part of your union. Adena’s just looking out for your well-being and is willing to make whatever sacrifice and adjustment is needed to keep you both happy and safe. This is what committed partners do for each other, compromises that must be made in life. You are probably doing it too, and will be doing it more as the years go by.”

“Yeah, true. It can’t be butterflies and cotton candy all the time,” Sutton added, rolling her eyes. “Look at me and Richard, 3,000 miles apart so he can do what makes him truly happy.”

Kat laid her fork down and tugged on her earlobe, “Yeah, but I wish strangers weren’t such jerks and mind their own business. Not judge another person on what they’re wearing or look like.”

“Sorry Kat,” Jane added. “Unfortunately for some that’s human nature, being put off by what’s different, or by what some people don’t understand, or by-“

Sutton interrupted, “...and, some people are just natural born assholes and jerks!”

- - - - -
In the early evening Kat and Adena decided to walk a few blocks from home to a small jazz bar that was famous for their chicken fingers and fried zucchini. For the first time since Kat met Adena, she did not cover her hair outdoors. Kat sat across from her at the small booth in the pub, sharing soft smiles and stares.

“What?” Adena grinned up at Kat.

“Nothing. You just look so different, love.”

“But you see me without my hijab all the time at home,” she responded.

Kat shrugged her left shoulder slightly at her, “I just have to get used to it when we’re out, that’s all.” Kat’s expression was sad, and Adena reached over and held her hand, rubbing her fingers gently with her thumb.

“Is okay, baby. It’ll be fine. Now...more importantly, let’s order because I’m starving.” Adena smiled and took the small paper menu from the center of the table and handed a second to Kat.

Their favorite group ‘Kool Katz’ were playing tonight and soon the food came to their table. “Yum, I love all this fried food! Good thing I ran this morning in preparation for a cholesterol spike,” Kat made a silly face and Adena chuckled.

“Oh but it tastes so good, babe. We can burn it off later tonight.” Adena wiggled her eyebrows at Kat, who grinned and bobbed her head joyfully back at her in response.

When their stomachs were full they got up and slow danced, cheek to cheek, in a very intimate way. Kat really liked the small establishment because a lot of queer couples frequented it, so it meant they felt comfortable to be themselves there, no one gave anyone dirty looks or shocked stares.

As Kat held Adena close, she thought about how wonderfully content her life was and how she was looking forward to a lifetime of shared experiences with her beautiful girl.

Chapter Text

“Oh man, so excited for you girls!” Sutton cheered in the Scarlet break-room.

“Yeah, we’re excited and happy, too.” Kat stood by the Keurig machine waiting for her hot cocoa to brew.

“It shouldn’t be any different, you guys have been practically living together for months now. You just currently have two separate homes to bang in, right now.” The blonde slapped the counter and let out a snort, causing Kat to grin and shake her head.

Jane and Alex strolled into the room looking for a snack. “Hi guys, what are we talking about?”

“Hey Ms. Sloan...Mr. Crawford.” Kat bowed her head in a silly manner at her friends.

“Ms. Edison...Ms. Brady,” Alex reciprocated.

“Now you guys sound like Oliver...” Jane chuckled, “...calling us all by last names.”

“Anyhoo, we were talking about Kat’s grande move-in with Adena.”

“Ahh yes, consolidation!” Jane happily noted with palms joined in front of her face. “We’re all very excited for you guys. This will be another great stage on your way to that happily-ever-after.”

“Thanks! Yeah, it was time. Adena’s lease was now month-to-month and, though we love her studio and location, we were basically throwing away unnecessary rent money.” Kat lifted her Scarlet mug and tossed the cocoa pod in the trash receptacle, sitting next to Sutton. “My place is rent free and we’ll share utility costs...whatever. But it makes sense to move into it together.”

Jane pulled the stool next to Alex, “Yes, a sensible plan.”

“When do you think you guys will look to buy a bigger place?”

“Oh, that’s a bit more into the future, Sutton. We’ll probably start looking in the Fall after we get married. No rush,” Kat waved and blew into her mug. “Oh, don’t forget you guys all promised to help us move Adena’s stuff into my place in two weeks. I’m counting on your muscle and sweat. Promise to have Fornino’s pizza, wine, and beer on ice.”

“Got the guns prepped and ready,” Sutton flexed her biceps, making the group laugh. “And Tiny Jane’s been working out daily at the gym...at god awful 5 a.m. every morning!”

“No pain, no gain people,” Jane said.

Kat giggled, “But even on Saturday’s, Jane? You’re so fricking dedicated.”

“Oh...Saturday’s I sleep in and go at seven o’clock.” The group rolled their eyes at her and she smirked back. She turned and pointed her index finger at Kat. “Hey, are you done cleaning out your loft to make enough room for Adena’s stuff? She has lovely antique furniture pieces. Im sure you’ll probably want to keep those and get rid of your cheap IKEA stuff, yes?”

Kat sighed, finishing up her beverage. “Yes, I’ve emptied half my closet, kitchen, and most of my decoré is gone to a better place...the second-hand store. Now my silly college posters and eclectic junk will find their way into some other adolescent girl’s first NYC studio.”

“Oh come on, don’t be so melodramatic,” Sutton quipped.

“Kat, I’m sure Adena gave you the choice to keep or donate that stuff. Besides, once you consolidate, you have to make room for Adena’s prized decorations. And, I’m sure you’re keeping most of your things in the basement storage area. That’s what I did when Sutton moved into my place, right?”

“Yeah girl. Once you guys move into a larger brownstone, I’m sure you can bring your junk out and hang posters up...but, probably best in the basement.”

“Thanks Sutton,” Kat replied sarcastically to her blonde friend, then quietly chuckled knowing there was some truth to that statement. Adena had purchased a lot of exotic and irreplaceable items throughout her 10 years of international travels, and had them recently shipped to the City from a Paris storage unit. Kat loved her eclectic taste and decorative style, much better than her own.

- - - - -
Two weekends prior, Kat had spent hours in her loft filling up garbage bags with clothes that no longer fit her, were out of style, or she frankly never wore much. Items she no longer needed and was happy to donate to the large minority owned thrift store in Harlem. She had scheduled the thrift store’s truck to come for a pick up on late Sunday afternoon, taking upon herself to notify her entire apartment building of the opportunity to clean out closets and their storage lockers in the basement, while giving their gently used items away for a good cause. Everyone was advised to have their bags and boxes downstairs in the lobby area by 3 p.m., at the collection rendezvous.

“Hello!” Adena walked into Kat’s place with her hands full of grocery bags. She placed the heaviest bag on a kitchen chair and Kat sprung up off the floor to grab the others.

“Hi sexy! Here, let me help you.” Kat kissed Adena and took two of the bags from her hands, laid them on top of the kitchen table, and started unloading their contents. She stopped and held up an item, “Yum, you bought me dark chocolate chips? I love you even more, now.” She closed her eyes and leaned towards her fiancée.

Adena chuckled and quickly kissed Kat’s lips again, “Yes, I did. I’m going to make half a batch of muffins for our breakfast with pistachios and half with your chocolate chips.”

Looking around the loft, Adena smiled and commented, “Wow, you’re really moving along with the purging. You’ve been a busy bee, Ms. Edison. Oh...and on my way up here, I saw a bunch of items already stacked in the lobby, and some other boxes placed down our hallway. Good for you, joon, organizing this for the entire building.” The artist smiled and gave Kat another quick peck.

“Yes’m. It’s a blessing in disguise. There’s just so much crap accumulated throughout my seven years of living here,” Kat shook her head. “A great big purging was well overdue.” The Edison’s had invested in the property right before Kat was starting her final year at NYU, outright purchasing the studio loft for their daughter to live in. A younger Kat had lived in college dorms and a sorority house prior, but was fed-up with messy and inconsiderate roommates and wanted to find an apartment to live alone, instead. Her folks had hoped after graduation their daughter would remain in the City and stay in the loft. But, if not, they’d plan to keep it for a place to stay during their various visits to the City. As luck had it, Kat did get the job at Scarlet right out of school, and here she was now weeding out seven years of her unnecessary items to donate.

Kat pointed to the bags on the floor, as Adena watched. “This one has shoes and belts and those three have clothes. Sadly, some items still have tags on them, as I never wore them,” she shrugged. “I’m also getting rid of an old parka and two purses. The empty boxes on my bed are going to be for kitchen and bathroom stuff. Do you think we can spend some time after groceries are put away, going through my kitchen items together? I’d like your input on what I should keep, what’s duplicate with your stuff, etc.”

“For sure babe, we can do that in a few minutes.” Adena opened the refrigerator and put away the milk and rest of the perishables inside, turning to look around the apartment walls. “And, maybe even look at some of your posters and decorations and decide on those, too.” She closed the fridge door and turned to face Kat who had a strange look on her face. “What, Aziz-am?”

“Mhmm, you don’t like my stuff....um, decorations, I mean?”

“No, no. That’s not what I meant, babe.” Kat gave Adena a coy smirk. “I just thought it would also be a good time to visit what we have for our walls, knickknacks, and what have you. Is all.”

“Okay, fair enough. Let’s do the kitchen and bathroom first, then my trinkets and my puerile posters.”

Adena folded the reusable canvas grocery totes, storing them under the sink cabinet. She walked over and pulled Kat’s arms forward, around her own waist. “I’m sorry joon, I didn’t mean to sound like your stuff wasn’t worthy. It’s all lovely things that are very you. So no, let’s not give any of it away if you don’t want to.”

“Okay, mommy.”

- - - - -
The two women worked long into Saturday night going through Kat’s stuff to weed out what was staying, some of which were practical things they would both use, and some sentimental items that Kat couldn’t part with, and what was going to charity the next day. They also had a couple of trash bags full of things going into the alley’s trash dumpster.

“Wow, look at this, Deena! It’s my old rush poster from Frosh year.” She held up a colorful hand painted poster with an 8x10 glossy of an 18 year-old Kat.

“Awww, you look so cute here.” Adena cooed and read the poster aloud, “It’s Greek to me?...What does it mean, exactly?”

“Well, it’s a play on words using Greek letters. See, a sorority is a social club for college females, the ‘sisterhood’ we call it. The Greek letters represent our organization, and I just wanted to be funny with a catchy phrase, you know, to stand out during rush, the recruitment process for joining the sorority. So I made this goofy poster.” Kat rolled her eyes at the silly construction paper sign.

“It’s not goofy, and you used very nice colors and angular lines.”

Kat laughed, “Thanks, babe. Only you, the artist, would notice the lines I used.” Kat held the poster for a minute and rolled it up, sticking it in the trash pile.

“No!” Adena suddenly squealed, startling Kat. “No aziz-am, we’re keeping this one. You never throw away artwork you created as a kid. Plus it has your lovely, chubby young face glued to it. We’re showing this to our children some day.”

“Okay...err, but I was 18. Hardly a kid, Dee. But I feel touched you want to keep it.” Kat took it out of Adena’s hands and placed in in the keeper’s pile. “Hey, think of this. What if we had met back then on college campus. You could have helped me make the most awesome poster for rush.” Kat gave Adena a cheesy smile.

Adena returned the smile, looking at Kat with loving eyes. “I would have liked meeting cute 18 year-old Kat,” she reached out and cupped Kat’s face.

“Yes, I would have liked meeting your 21 year-old-self, too. But you wouldn’t have liked me much. You would be sooo much more mature and sophisticated than me. Plus, I was too much of a party girl, always hanging out with boys, drinking on the weekend.” Kat gave Adena a tight lip smile and rubbed her leg. “Yeah, you wouldn’t have liked me.”

“Hmm, you never know. But, we can’t turn back time and we met now for a reason, right?”

“Yeah, we met at the right time for sure.” Kat leaned forward and kissed Adena deeply, pushing her onto her back, flat onto the area rug. “But, if we ever figure out how to make a time machine, we can go back there and have some great sex,” Kat joked waggling her brows.

Adena giggled, “Oh, but you were a proud young hetero back then.”

“I’m sure you could have converted me.” The two spent a few minutes making out on the floor, then Adena slapped Kat’s backside and forced her to go back to work.

“Okay, let’s go through that last big box that was in the back of your closet and we’ll call it a night, good?”

“Yep, let’s see what treasures this one holds. It hasn’t been opened in like five years. Oh, a bunch of shit from my various campus jobs and sorority events. T-shirts...ball caps...my Greek life yearbooks, and...oh, an old box of...whoops, ha!”

“Oh my, ‘Big Boy...Mega Pack Condoms’, ohh-kayy...” Adena said out loud, looking over at Kat playfully.

Kat shrugged her shoulders, shyly explaining, “Mmm, I liked to be prepared...and hated to be seen buying these?...So I got the largest box possible.” She shook the almost empty box and looked inside. “Um, I’m sure I gave some out to my roommates when they went on dates. Some guys didn’t carry their own, so it was good for us to have them around...and, yeah.” Kat’s cheeks were flushed as she finished her sentence.

Adena laughed a little and basked in the fact that she made Kat blush. But soon let her off the hook, “You don’t have to be embarrassed, joon, or feel you must justify it to me. I’m glad you were responsible and well prepared, is all.”

“Yeah...some times I was not as responsible as I should have been. But I learned my lesson.” Kat stood and helped Adena on her feet with a pull of her hand. “Welp, this definitely goes into the trash pile,” she chuckled, eyes avoiding Adena’s.

- - - - -
The two finished their task for the night and got ready for bed. They were now sleeping at Kat’s since Adena’s apartment was full of packed boxes and her mattress was stripped bare, ready for the official move to happen in a few weeks.

Snuggled in bed, room quiet and semi-lit by moonlight, Adena spoke in a tired, breathy voice, caressing Kat’s shoulder. “Hey? Remember how you asked me before how many women I had been sexual with?”

Kat buried her face in Adena’s neck and began stroking her thigh, “Uh-huh.”

“Would you still like to know?”

There was a moment of silence, while Kat thought of her answer, then, “Um, doesn’t really matter to me, anymore. You were right, what matters is that we’re together now in a serious, committed relationship. The past should not have any bearing on our future.”

“Okay, yes. But I want you to know everything about me, and vice versa.” Adena turned over and mirrored Kat’s position, pressing their foreheads together. “I did the math in my head the other day, and it is 11....11 total.”

“O-Okay, thank you for telling me. But you really didn’t have to.” Kat reached up and gently tucked some of Adena’s hair behind her ear. “Uh...mine is more complicated because a lot involved too much alcohol, so I’m kinda thinking it’s around a dozen. Most were one-night stands in college, and you met my first at 18, Tanner. Ugh, I’m so embarrassed that we had to bump into him.”

“Is okay.” Adena chuckled, “Rather funny start to our Hamptons getaway. The first girl I ever kissed and...touched, was back at home when I was 16.”

“Oh? So young.”

“Yes, and it terrified us both. We were childhood friends, growing up in oppressed Teheran, where homosexuality is a big taboo. People can die if they are discovered.” Kat reached over and pulled Adena closer, caressing her shoulder as she continued. “One night, as my friend slept over, like she had done so many nights before, it just happened.” Adena paused and let out a small sigh, “Like I mentioned before, I saw fireworks, Kat, it was amazing. But at that time, so young and scared, I didn’t know exactly what it meant for me, or for the rest of my life.”

“Did you girls talk about it afterwards, and did it continue?”

“We kissed again only a couple more times, and we never really talked about it, or what we felt, or what we could do about it. In that environment a lesbian has no future. Only to marry a man you are set up with, have kids, live a fake life. And, that’s what happened to my friend a few months later. Her family married her off to a much older man, and he moved her out of our town.”

“That’s sad, I’m so sorry baby.”

Adena shook her head. “As soon as I turned 17, and finished my studies, I begged Maman to let me leave to travel the world. So...with her semi-blessing, and a very angry father, I left, became a nomad with my vintage Canon camera.” Adena let out a small chuckle. “I wanted to get as far south from Iran as possible. So, I moved to South Africa, where my first landlady helped me discover the power of portrait photography. She was a sweet old woman, also a photographer, and took me under her wing. She’d let me use her phone to call Maman back home every week and even cooked for me sometimes. Said I was the daughter she never had.”

“Aw, so sweet. Do you keep in touch?”

“I used to, she’s gone now, but I thank Allah every day for her caring friendship and help. She was my guardian angel on earth. I stayed in her bed-and-breakfast about a year, then traveled all through Africa, up through Spain, and into France, Belgium, and The Netherlands.”

“Is that where you met your first real love?”

“Yes, Amsterdam. I was 20 and smitten. Her name was Jana and I fell head over heals for her. We dated a year-and-a-half, but I was young, insecure, never in a relationship before. She was a bit older, a free spirit, so she broke up with me.” Adena cleared her throat, “It was devastating, as one can imagine. But, a month later, I met a girl at a café that was from Spain, traveling up to Germany. So, I packed up and traveled with her through Germany a few months, where Baba had some cousins I visited and gave us a bed for a while. She also had good friends in Cologne that gave us shelter. My new friend and I eventually parted, and then I moved to France. With money Maman wired me, I was able to live there and attend Spéos.”

“Then you met Coco?”

“Eventually. After Spéos I came to New York a few times and returned to Paris in between. A mutual friend introduced us and we worked on some shoots together before dating, but you know that already.”

“Uh-huh.”

Adena outstretched her neck and gave Kat a reassuring kiss on the forehead. “When we were apart, and you were seeing Tia here, I met a girl in Paris.” She paused waiting for a reaction from her lover, but continued when there was none. “Her name’s Greta and she is very nice. We dated a few months before I returned to you.”

Adena paused again and Kat said, “Okay,” while staring into her eyes. They were both silent after that, until Kat spoke up again, with a joking remark to lighten the mood. “I don’t know if you figured it out yet, but I’m so happy you returned to New York.”

The two broke out into quiet laughter, and Kat blew raspberries into Adena’s neck, making her squeal and giggle. “Stop it!” She begged.

“Oh, I’m starting it,” Kat proclaimed, then pushed and straddled Adena, lovingly gazing into her eyes, until she lifted her arms and slipped off her t-shirt, leaning forward to capture Adena’s lips in a searing kiss.

“Mmmmm,” Adena moaned and scratched at Kat’s bare back.

- - - - -
An old panel truck with ‘Sadie’s Closet’ pulled up to the curb on late Sunday afternoon. Kat, Adena, and a bunch of neighbor’s helped the two older gentlemen volunteers upload the many bags and boxes of donations into the back cargo area.

As the taller man revved the noisy motor, Kat waved from the sidewalk, “Thank you again for driving down to us and taking all our stuff.”

“Yes, glad to oblige, miss,” the driver waved and honked, pulling slowly forward from the front of the apartment building, truck rattling and gears grinding away.

Adena waved too, then took Kat’s hand, “Let’s go baby clothes shopping. Sage’s shower is Wednesday afternoon at work and we need to get her something.”

Chapter Text

Sage was six months pregnant with twin boys, and Jane and Martha were hosting an afternoon baby shower for her at Scarlet. Jacqueline had been very accommodating and gave everyone a couple of free work hours at the end of the day to attend. The event was intimate, with mostly girls in attendance. Although the guys from the office were also invited, only Alex, Andrew, and Richard made an appearance. Oliver was regretfully missing it, away at Disney World with Carly for a week, but made arrangements to leave a baby gift with Sutton for the new parents.

The Board’s 42nd floor conference room was reserved for the event, since it was the largest and provided a kitchenette behind some sliding mahogany doors. Angie, Alex, Sutton, and three other Scarlet writers helped decorate the place and it looked very festive. Navy blue and yellow balloons hung in bunches from the drop down office ceiling tiles, as well as framed the entrance to the room. Baby blue streamers provided a colorful backdrop to the cake and gift tables and a large ‘HERE COMES DOUBLE TROUBLE’ banner finished the look.

Jane, being the most organized, handled invitations, the catering of food from Sage’s favorite Thai place, and making sure everyone RSVP’d. Martha and Andrew were in charge of taking up an office-wide collection a week prior and bought the paper goods. The Writer’s in the department conjured up fun baby shower games to play and made gag goodybags for the guests. The rest of the attending co-workers were assigned to be in either the party’s decorating committee, or clean up committee, and Jacqueline promised to give an impromptu speech on motherhood and work life.

“I’m as big as a house and Donald still wants to copulate every night,” The feisty brunette exclaimed to the gathered group of co-workers, taking a hefty bite of German chocolate cake afterwards, and then covering her mouth as she continued. “Can you all believe that?” The attendees were all used to Sage’s bold veraciousness on sex, laughing out loud at her comment.

“Sex during pregnancy has a lot of perks,” Jacqueline stated, striding across the pile carpet, into the room to join the celebration in progress. Everyone in the room instantly hushed and turned to face the boss. “When I was pregnant with my first son, Ian and I had concerns, too. But we soon found out it was perfectly safe, a stress releaser, and good for your blood pressure, amongst other things,” she smiled confidently. “So, after we got our Obstetrician’s clearance, we continued enjoying a VERY active sex-life. We discovered some interesting positions worked better than others.”

“TMI,” Sutton turned and whispered towards Adena, Kat, and Jane, who all had blank expressions on their faces at the moment.

“And don’t worry...” Jacqueline continued, pointing and shaking her finger at the guest of honor, “...the babies are not watching you copulate, but they might kick a lot after your orgasm,” Jacqueline concluded with a low chuckle, leaving her audience wide eyed, some even blushing, while she moved towards the cake table.

Kat and Sutton smirked at each other, quietly giggling. Jane remained speechless with cheeks flushed, and Adena had a mortified expression on her face. Kat reached over and gave her fiancée a soft hand-squeeze. Although Adena had worked at Scarlet over a year, she wasn’t as used to Jacqueline’s direct candor as the rest of the staff that worked with her on a daily basis, were.

Jacqueline suddenly halted and snapped her fingers, “That gives me a great idea for your next article, Sage. We haven’t covered sex positions while pregnant with twins, so make a mental note to do that. You can give all of them a go first and write about ones that work, as well as mention the ones that failed. As always, I’m available if you need ideas.” Sage clapped in excitement and nodded briskly, as her boss sliced herself a piece of cake, sitting down next to a grinning Richard.

Kat leaned into Adena’s ear whispering, “Great, now we get to read and imagine Sage, Donald, and the big belly copulating.” Adena gave Kat a stern look, afraid someone might overhear her comment, then slapped her arm. “Oww, it’s a joke baby...But ewww!”

- - - - -
After food and cake were done, the group played some baby shower games. Then, it was present time. “Oh boy, here comes the best part,” Jane announced, helping Martha and Lilly gather the colorful wrapped gifts to move closer to the mother-to-be. Angie sat down next to Sage with notepad and pen, ready to document who each gift was from, for thank you cards.

The presents ranged from bags of diapers, to matching newborn outfits, to soft stuffed toys and small rattles. Jacqueline gifted Sage the best dual breast pump system on the market. “Wow, this is going to make my life so much easier. Thank you so much, Jacqueline.”

“You are very welcome, dear. I’ll buy anything to make motherhood a more convenient and pleasant experience. These things are life-changing,” the matriarch replied.

Amongst the staple baby gifts, there were even some unique gifts like the two ‘Baby’s First Year’ picture frames and handmade coupon for a free photo studio-session from Adena and Kat. “This is awesome, thank you ladies!” And, the perfect pair of little jackets and matching caps handmade by Sutton for the twins. “Oh-Mm-Gee, Sutton, it’s frickin adorable!” Sutton beamed proudly as Sage held up her gift, and everyone in attendance loved it.

There was even a non-traditional gift in the mix. A black sexy lace teddy and matching men’s thong bought by Andrew. “Okay dude, you know you’re killing us with these,” Sage jested.

“Oh, just thought you breeders needed some spice in your life after the births,” he retorted sarcastically.

“The only spice they’ll need is smelling salt to stay awake. There’s going to be a lot of sleep deprivation after the babies are born,” one of the more mature employees, with five kids at home, muttered from the back of the room.

A half hour later only two gift bags were left, Jane’s and Martha’s. Jane’s was opened first and had the baby essentials: bibs, soft washcloths, little spoons and bowls, and two dozen socks in blue, yellow, and lime green hues. Sage pulled out the little booties and held them up. “Thank you so much, Jane.”

“Awww, look how tiny and cute those are for warming their little toes,” Adena beamed and cooed aloud.

Sage stopped unwrapping the last gift and lifted her eyes towards Kat and Adena. “Ooh...looks like you guys are next. So, who’s going to get pregnant?”

The question was intrusive and caught the fiancées off guard. All eyes and attention now on them, the crowd waited to hear the response. Kat opened her eyes wide and said, “Uhm...we have to take it one step at a time. As my father always says, don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” she chuckled. “So, first we need to get married.” Adena took her hand and nodded in agreement.

Sage, being her sassy self, pushed the envelope, “Okay well, then when ARE you going to set the wedding date?”

“Oh great...Frick! Now you sound like my mom’s aunt Ruth.” Kat threw her arms up in front of her, but kept a small smile on her face. She took and let out a big breath continuing, “Since age 15, Grand-Auntie’s been nagging me with that, ‘When are you going to get married and have kids,’ too. Shit.”

Adena noticed Kat had come across a bit more annoyed with her second response, so she wrapped her hand around her middle adding, “We are in the process of looking at venues and deciding what kind of ceremony we both want. We are not rushing things and we want it to be special. But rest assured, we will soon announce our date.”

“Yay, can’t wait!” Jane exclaimed to the rest of the room.

Sutton looked over at Kat and winked, then turned to Jane and Martha, diverting the attention of the crowd back to the event, “Hey-yo, isn’t it shower game time again, ladies?”

- - - - -
Adena, Kat, Lilly and a few others stayed upstairs after the event concluded to clean up, while Richard, Alex, and Sutton helped wheel all of Sage’s gifts down to the lobby in a big Scarlet rolling cart. They met Donald downstairs and helped him load up all the treasures into their brand new red minivan, double-parked in front of the Safford building. “You guys are the best!” Sage turned and hugged Sutton. “Donald, wait ‘til you see all the great shit we received for our boys,” Sage yelled as she waddled her way to the vehicle’s passenger side. The trio waved as the parents-to-be pulled away and merged into the busy Manhattan traffic.

“Well that was fun,” Sutton said with a sigh, followed by, “Gentlemen, make a mental note. No more sports cars when you’re expecting a baby. Minivans here you come!” The blonde clicked her tongue twice and cackled.

Back upstairs the conference room was back to its orderly, clean self after 20 minutes. “Many hands make light work,” Lilly said.

“Yes! Hurray, looks like we’re done, ladies and gent,” Jane exclaimed, opening her arms up and individually hugging everyone who stayed to clean up. “Thank you all for pitching in. I think we made Mommy Sage very happy.”

- - - - -
Tired and headed home for the day, Kat and Adena sat together in a back-facing subway seat. Kat turned her head and gazed into her fiancée’s eyes, “So, you really want to start looking at venues so we can set our wedding date?”

“Yes, joon. I think we should start planning, seeing what is available, figuring out what we can afford, and book it. We may still have to wait a bit into the future for a place we like. But this way we can have a goal ahead of us. Plus I have to give my family enough warning to get their traveling papers approved, et cetera.”

Kat grinned and took ahold of Adena’s hand, “Well that’s exciting.”

Adena reciprocated the grin, “Yeah?”

“Yeah!” Kat’s eyes gleamed and her mouth curved into a big smile.

“It is.” Adena smiled widely, too.

Kat quickly kissed Adena’s cheek and leaned close to her ear, whispering, “Okay Dee, if I hear the word ‘copulation’ in any form again today, Imma gonna scream.”

Adena chuckled loudly, cocking her head and looking straight into her eyes, “Aziz-am, you don’t want to copulate tonight?”

“Ohhh, not you too!” Kat face-palmed, faking exasperation, and broke out laughing.

Chapter Text

It was a crisp, cloudy November in the Big Apple and Kat and Adena were up early for a Saturday morning. They were going to spend the greater part of the day looking at wedding venues and hopefully cementing their wedding date, depending on what was available to them. Adena had organized the entire day, setting up appointments with different types of locations throughout the City. They would meet with event planners and tour their sites.

Having her second cup of coffee, Kat finished whipping up a vegetable omelette for breakfast. Adena came walking out of the bathroom in a fluffy cotton robe, with her freshly shampooed hair wrapped up in a towel. She circled around the kitchen and poured herself a generous cup of coffee and joined Kat at the table.

“Mmm! This looks really good baby. Thank you for spoiling me. “Adena reached under the table and caressed the top of Kat’s thigh and began eating.

“You’re welcome,” Kat replied, leaning over to kiss Adena’s cheek. “I’m excited to spend the day with you looking at these wedding venues. Should be fun.”

“Good, me too. Let’s see what we find and what’s available at our price range.” Adena smiled, as Kat squeezed ketchup on her eggs and the bottle made a funny sound. “Wear your comfortable shoes, joon. I have us doing a lot of walking and traveling across town.”

- - - - -
Monday it was back to work and Kat sat in the Safford atrium taking a mid-morning coffee break with Jane. “So how was it, visiting all those different venues?”

“Exhausting, to say the least.” Kat let out a long, slow breath and took a sip from her paper cup. “We talked to sooo many event coordinators...toured sooo many places, that by seven o’clock on Saturday, I was ready for bed. After a while I couldn’t keep them straight in my head. But, luckily Adena is great and had a long checklist of our questions, concerns, and wishes on her. We also took goods notes so we could re-visit them all later on paper, if we needed. I also snapped some photos with my phone. Made it all so much smoother and less stressful.”

“Well that’s good. Did you guys like any and would you consider them for your wedding?”

“Uhm, not really. Too stuffy, too traditional, too boring, definitely not what Adena and I represent.” Kat pulled her phone out of her blazer pocket and checked several work messages, laying it facedown on the table when she was finished. “My parents also offered to pay for a destination wedding for our family and Adena’s, but that complicates things. It also makes it hard for all our close friends to fork out the Benjamins and attend. You all would have to take time off to travel to and from, et cetera.”

“I’ve heard they’re also very expensive...destination weddings. You’re probably better off eloping to Vegas with Adena and putting that money towards a down-payment on the small brownstone she wants.”

“Yeah, some are exuberantly pricey for what you get. But eloping is out of the question because of family. Adena and I couldn’t do that to them, it’s complicated. And, money’s no issue with my parents. Although Adena really values cost and pinches pennies, and she doesn’t want to overspend nor take advantage of my folks, so we have a conservative budget.”

“Will her mom be able to contribute to the cost?”

“She’s offered, but I don’t want her spending her money. Traveling from the Middle East to our wedding will be extremely complicated and very expensive for her and Zareen. And, although the El-Amins are not poor, my parents are content paying for it all, since I’m their only child.” Kat finished her coffee and sat back in her chair, crossing her arms. “I’m pretty sure Maman and Adena will insist on contributing to some part of it, whether I like it or not.”

Jane nodded and her eyes wondered to a handsome young guy walking by. Her concentration was broken when Kat coughed out loud on purpose. “Uh...yes! Yes, I’m sure they’ll insist on helping out with things. Knowing Adena she’ll make some cute centerpieces or cute what-have-you’s for the reception. Those things are costly, you know.”

“Yes Tiny Jane, he’s really cute and his name’s Adam. He’s from Accounting on the 30th floor. I’ve worked with him on several projects. You should ask him out,” Kat said laughing at her smitten friend.

Jane grinned widely and batted her eyelashes at Kat several times, “Maybe a close friend of mine can put in a good word? Perhaps give him my number?”

Kat’s ears perked up, “For sure! And then you’ll have a date to bring to our wedding.”

“Oh, I don’t know if I’d do that. It would be too presumptuous of me to bring a new date to such an event.”

“Nah, by the time our wedding rolls around, you and Adam will be very intimate friends.” Kat waggled her brows and took another sip of her coffee.

“That would be nice,” Jane sighed. “What’s his last name anyways?”

“Um...Jennings...Adam Jennings.”

“Hmmm, Jane Jennings. It has a nice ring to it. You think?”

Kat giggled with her hand on her head. “Yes, sure. It does. But you can always keep your last name if you’re not sure.”

“Are you guys keeping yours? I’m sorry, I don’t know how that works.”

“No prob. I think we’re going to hyphenate it...El-Amin-Edison. We’ll actually have two hyphens in our combined married names. But it has a nice ring to it.” Kat lifted up her phone and looked at the time, “Oh shit, we gotta go. My meeting with RJ Safford and Jacqueline is in nine minutes.”

“Well then, Mrs. El-Amin-Edison, let’s go.”

“Yes, Mrs. Jennings, after you.”

- - - - -
Three weeks later Adena and Kat found their dream venue at a third of the cost of all the others. It was at an old opera house turned art gallery in Greenwich Village, run and operated by a nonprofit group Kat was working with to introduce impoverished kids and teenagers to the arts. Kat had come home very excited with the prospect of booking this unique venue for their special day.

“Baby, you’re going to absolutely fall in love with the place,” she informed Adena and described the spot.

The building’s lobby area was large enough to hold up to 150 guests comfortably, with room for dinner tables and a large dance floor. Beyond that there was an auditorium and stage with seating for 90. The location was beautiful, next to a tree-lined park with a large domed ornamental gazebo, where wedding ceremonies were also held. Across the street was an old Presbyterian church with ample parking spaces in a parking lot that could be rented for guests driving to the opera house events.

“Sounds really neat, Kat. Let’s go see it next Saturday.”

Kat took Adena to the ‘Juvenescence Theater’ that next weekend, to see their latest matinee show and then meet the venue manager. As luck would have it, Adena knew the couple that were running the nonprofit program for the youth. “I can’t believe Patrisse and Zander are involved in this beautiful program, Kat. They are both artists and world travelers. We met through mutual friends years ago. What a small world,” Adena stated with glee.

“Yes, small world baby.”

That afternoon, Adena and Kat booked their wedding reception at the facility, providing a security deposit to hold their slot. Since the theater was a third of the cost of all the other venues, Kat convinced Adena to hire a full-service Wedding Planner to make their lives easier, avoiding most of the stress that planning a wedding brings. The Planner would work with the brides to choose everything from attire, to the ceremony location, to the reception decorations, music, and catering of food. She would make sure everything ran smoothly before and during their special day. She would also work closely with Adena so the celebration would honor each of their separate backgrounds and faith.

“Okay Dee, let’s go FaceTime our parents and tell them the good news.”

“Yes,” Adena smiled as she took Kat’s hand and walked down the sidewalk towards the metro station, “Next May 8th we are Mrs. and Mrs.”

Chapter Text

A large over-stuffed suitcase laid open on top of the neatly made bed. Kat stood sipping her morning coffee by the side of her turquoise refrigerator, glancing at the calendar hanging on a magnetic hook. “Wow, can’t believe we leave tonight for New Canaan and Christmas with the Edisons.”

Adena was around the corner, looking at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, putting the finishing touches on her eyeshadow. She responded, “Crazy, right? But I’m happy we are leaving this evening just as that terrible storm rolls in. Hope we can return.”

“Yeah, me too. Scary. We usually don’t get such large snowfalls until mid-January or February.” Kat glanced down at her phone and tapped on the weather app. “Close to twenty inches are in the forecast for the next 48 hours . This is a such an anomaly, maybe a sign of things to come.”

“Probably global warming, huh?” Adena huffed, first pressing her lips together to even-out her plum colored lipstick, then blotting them on a small piece of toilet paper to finish the look.

Kat sighed dramatically, “Yeah....sad. Hey, did you pack our thermal underwear and flannel jammies?”

Adena switched the light off and came strolling out from the bathroom, lathering her favorite lavender lotion into her hands and arms. “Yes, and your wool slipper-socks.” She paused to lightly kiss Kat on the lips, continuing towards the living room area to get her phone and laptop. “Wouldn’t want my baby freezing cold in Connecticut.”

Kat sauntered over to her side and rubbed her hands up-and-down Adena’s upper arms, “Thank you love. But it’s the outdoors I’m worried about. I know you’ll keep me extra-toasty when we’re under the down covers,” she giggled.

Adena turned and linked her hands behind Kat’s neck, pulling her close. “Mmm-Hmm. But you are my little furnace in bed...keeping me toasty all night long.” She puckered her lips and closed her eyes.

“Glad to oblige,” Kat replied, staring down at Adena’s full lips. “But I don’t want to mess up your pretty lipstick, so here’s an Eskimo kiss for now.” Kat pressed and rubbed their noses together and Adena giggled. “That lipstick matches your hijab beautifully.”

“I’ll take a raincheck on the kiss, then,” Adena chuckled, opening her eyes back up. “We better get going or we’ll be late for our last day of work.” She released her hold, bending down to collect her laptop, various chargers, and a mystery novel she was reading. She put everything inside her satchel to take on the trip. As she walked over to the front door, she pointed at the suitcase with her nose, “If you think you don’t need to pack anything else for Connecticut, you can zip up the suitcase now. Leave it by the door next to my satchel and your backpack.”

“Yep, I just need to add my contact solution and make-up bag and I’m all set. I’ll do that tonight before we leave for the train.”

“Oh also, please let’s not forget to bring the gift bags for today’s Holiday lunch exchange. I have them all on that chair,” Adena pointed at the rattan lounge chair by the stairs.

“Okay will do. Yum...Andrew told me Scarlet is catering in Japanese cuisine for our luncheon this year. Sushi here we come!”

- - - - -
The snow was starting to come down hard as the women boarded their train at Grand Central Station. It had been snowing steadily since lunchtime and it wasn’t letting up for the next two days. The direct train was departing at 8 p.m. sharp and headed north, arriving at New Canaan a little after nine. Kat’s parents were picking them up at the station.

The train was full, with people headed north to celebrate Christmas with loved ones. Passengers brought thick parkas and wore snow boots in preparation for their arrival at the winter wonderland, expecting their visit to be extra-frigid this holiday. Most everyone also carried bags of wrapped presents they stuffed in overhead bins or held between their legs at their seats. Babies cooed and toddlers screeched as parents tried to entertain them with toys or handfuls of Cheerios.

The fiancées found their seat together in the back of the car. They took off their heavy parkas and draped them over their legs like blankets. Kat reached underneath the coats and held Adena’s soft hand, stealing a quick kiss on her cheek. Across the aisle, a teenage girl with blue hair smiled at them. “Ahh, I love the spirit of the holiday when it all begins. People are at their most joyful moods and everyone’s friendly and kind...very anti-New York City, I might say,” Kat jested quietly in Adena’s ear, making her laugh.

Adena looked towards her left side at the window, and stared at Kat’s reflection, “I’m going to really enjoy being with you and your Connecticut family these next five days, joon.” She turned back with a warm smile, looking at Kat.

Kat grinned and gazed deeply into her eyes, “Me too, baby. Me too. But mostly the part about being with you.” The corners of her mouth turned up. “Sharing my special holiday and showing you my hometown is the gravy part.” She felt Adena squeeze her hand tighter under the coats. “Hey, hopefully you can meet my friends Kimberly and Jon-Jon. They should both be back home for the holidays, too. I went through 12 years of private schooling with Kimberly, and JJ’s family moved across the street from us when I was in fourth grade. We three had a tight bond growing up...still do when we see each other. Kimberly’s like the sister I never had, and JJ, well, you’ll see. He’s one funny guy.”

“Oh, I can’t wait. They can fill me in on all your childhood secrets,” Adena raised her brow and teased.

“Oooh, yes. Kimberly knows most of them. I’ll have to bribe her to keep quiet,” Kat chuckled, kissing Adena’s forehead. Then whispered into her ear, “They’re going to love you, Dee. Love my beautiful angel.”

Adena pulled her hand out from underneath the parkas and reached up, caressing Kat’s cheek with the back of her hand, “You’re so sweet, Kat. I love you so much.”

Kat looked at Adena with tender eyes, kissing her knuckles, “I love you so much, too”

- - - - -
As the train slowed and weaved through the back of a snowy rail yard, the conductor’s voice came through faint static, “Arriving at New Canaan Station...please collect all your valuables and children...and stay warm and safe. Happy Holidays folks!” The high pitch of the train brakes screeched loudly and the creaky train came to a halt. In organized chaos, the passengers immediately started standing and gathering their belongings. It was after nine o’clock, frigid and pitch dark beyond the railway station, and Kat and Adena were ready to head to a warm house and cozy bed.

“Kat, I hope your parents made it here to pick us up with all this awful weather?”

Kat checked her phone for new messages from her parents, but there weren’t any. “Oh yeah, no worries. Their next door neighbor has a big, all-terrain SUV-type vehicle that he’s let Dad borrow for these occasions. If Mom’s Small CRV can’t make it, they’ll use that one to come get us. They’re used to driving in inclement weather.” Kat led Adena down the platform to the luggage area, then stopped to text her mom.

‘We’re right outside the circle waiting for you in my car, sweetheart,’ Susan messaged back. “Okay Deena, they’re here.”

- - - - -
Susan gave Adena the tour of the house, starting with downstairs and then upstairs. They were finishing up with the upstairs bedrooms, “And this is the spacious guest room, slash sewing room...followed by our Master Bedroom...and this is Kat’s room where you guys will be staying, dear.” Susan opened up the door to Kat’s childhood room and Adena walked in.

“What did I miss...what’d I miss?” Kat stormed in behind her mom and fiancée. “Sorry, your neighbor Luis was talking my ear off about his grandkids in Dad’s basement office.”

“Just showing Adena around, honey. Why don’t I have Dad bring your bags up so you guys can get settled and washed up... relaxed. I’ll go take over talking to Luis. His little ones are really cute and he has great stories.” Susan gave Kat and Adena a quick hug and walked out of the bedroom. “Oh, there are clean bath towels on top of the vanity for you both, new robes on the hooks,” she hollered back as she reached the top of the staircase.

“Sounds like a plan, Mom. Dad looked like he needed a break. I’ll go down and help him bring things up,” Kat responded, following close behind Susan.

Once all their bags were in the room, Kat closed the door behind her dad, with, “Thanks Dad, we’ll see you in a bit.” She turned around and watched her fiancée in awe.

Adena was wondering around the large room looking at all the posters on the walls and at all the different knick-knacks and trinkets on shelves. There was Kat’s ‘New Canaan 8th Grade Science Project Winner’ wall plaque, “Very impressive,” Adena stopped to admire it. Her ‘Prom Queen 2010’ sash, and her various high school volleyball trophies, “Hmmm, you were very popular and athletic.” She also picked up a photo frame with a collage of photos of Kat in various stages of life, and her eyes lit up with admiration. “Aww, look at you here with pigtails and braces, so adorable!”

Kat walked up to Adena and laughed, “Thanks babe, but that was officially my ugly stage in life. I was 12 or 13, gangly, and starting to have lots of forehead acne.”

“Nooo, I love this. Don’t say that. You were precious,” Adena lamented, placing the frame back down, then turned around and looked at Kat’s bed. “Wow, you had a double bed all to yourself growing up? So lucky. I had one too, but had to share it with Zareen.”

Kat wrapped her arms around Adena’s waist from behind and rested her chin on her shoulder, “And now you have to share this one with me....naked.”

Adena giggled, “I like that, but your parents’s room is right next door, joon. I think we better be good while we’re here.”

“B-But...” Kat released her hold and took a few steps backwards, opening a door to reveal a large ensuite bathroom. “We have a bathroom, and...” She turned and took a few more steps to her left and opened a second door, “...a walk-in closet in between our rooms to muffle sounds.” She grinned and joined Adena by the bed, again. “Plus, the house furnace is very noisy when it kicks on. So more added buffer between the bedrooms.”

Adena chuckle and continued her observations, meandering to the big window. She couldn’t believe her eyes, “My oh my, this is a teenage girl’s dream room. Look at that wonderful picture window seat over there to gaze into your beautiful tree-lined back yard! I would have loved growing up here.”

“Meh, it was okay.” Kat shrugged her shoulders. “But guess now that you point it out, it’s pretty darn nice. Guess I was spoiled all these years and didn’t fully appreciate it like I should have.” Kat walked back over to Adena’s side, admiring her girl’s long dark lashes before kissing her. The kiss started innocent but quickly turned passionate when Adena opened her mouth and Kat pushed her tongue into it, releasing a moan from deep inside, “Mmmm.” Just as Kat started to slide her hand down the front of Adena’s leggings, there was a gentle knock on the door.

“Dear, we have some hot cocoa and snacks waiting for you guys in the living room, if you’d like to join us...Dad’s playing his LP’s.”

Adena quickly separated their lips, smiled and Kat sighed, “Okay Mom, we’ll be there in a few minutes! Just washing up and getting comfortable!” Kat yelled exasperated, pulling her hand out of the black leggings and rolling her eyes at an amused Adena.

“Is okay, she means well. Let’s clean up and join them,” Adena quietly suggested, patting the back of Kat’s sweatpants with her hand, and giving her butt cheek a squeeze, for good measure.

“Very well,” Kat pouted back and slapped Adena’s ass. “We’ll finish this later.”

- - - - -
After snacks and deep Edison conversations, as Kat referred to them, the foursome called it a night. Adena and Kat went upstairs, brushed their teeth, donned on pajamas, and laid under the fluffy duvet in the dark room, slightly illuminated by the adhesive glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars that still decorated the bedroom.

Kat chuckled, “Ahhh, mood lighting...almost forgot about those,” and rolled on top of Adena, brushing her lips lightly with her own, before pressing down firmly to deepen the kiss and slipping a hand under her flannel shirt.

Adena grabbed Kat’s wrist and stopped her. “Don’t you feel a little weird having sex in your childhood bed...with your parents right next door?” She whispered.

“Nope.” Kat answered without hesitation, continuing the kiss and pushing her hand upwards.

Adena stopped her again, “I’m serious, babe.”

Kat momentarily rolled off of Adena and laid on her side, facing her. “Maybe if I were 18. But I’m a 28 year-old, grown-ass-woman.” She pulled Adena closer by her pajama shirt and pressed their foreheads together. “Baby, we are engaged and live together. My parents have certainly figured out by now that we are having sex.”

Adena squinted her eyes and smirked, “You have a point.”

“Besides, I’ve never had sex on my Beautyrest mattress...and...I really want to make love to my gorgeous fiancée on it tonight.” Kat gazed deeply into Adena’s eyes and waited. Adena knotted her fist in her flannel top, pulling Kat even closer, then rolled her back on top of her.

“Alright, but promise me you won’t be loud.” Adena waited and Kat just smirked devilishly. “Aziz-am, let me hear you promise,” Adena pleaded.

At that moment the old furnace turned on and began noisily humming and blowing warm air into the open area. Kat scrunched her nose and smiled, “Buffer baby...buffer.”

- - - - -
The next morning the girls slept in. Kat opened her eyes to a room filled with hazy early-morning light. “Hey, did you miss your morning prayer?” She asked, yawning in bed, arms holding Adena who was awake and curled into her side for warmth.

“No, I got up and went back to bed afterwards. You were just out cold and never noticed. I’m glad I didn’t wake you, baby.” Adena reached up and moved the curls out of Kat’s face and softly kissed her forehead...her eyelids...her nose...ending with her chin.

“Mmmm, c’mere hot stuff,” Kat said wrapping her arms around Adena, kissing and nipping at her neck while groping her bottom. “Oh, you drive me wild!” Kat roared out loud.

Adena giggled and squirmed, covering Kat’s mouth with her hand. “Stop. Your parents might be walking by our door, silly.”

Kat huffed, “Adena, I’m sure they are not standing in the hallway at all hours waiting to hear us moan and groan.” Kat shifted her head sideways and looked at the alarm clock on her desk. “It’s past 10, I’ll tell you exactly what they’re doing. Dad’s in the basement rec room working on his wood carvings. And, Mom’s probably on her iPad looking up recipes or looking at other people’s grandchildren on FaceBook.

“Well, I think it’s late and we need to go downstairs before they get suspicious. So come on lazy bones, let’s get up.” Adena slapped Kat’s thigh and rolled off of her and right out of bed, onto her feet. Kat grumbled but soon followed. They both got ready and headed downstairs.

“Good morning girls. I made veggie breakfast quiche. It’s in the oven keeping warm for you.” Kat walked over to her mother and kissed her cheek. Susan was sitting on a stool at the large kitchen island with her readers on, engrossed on something on her iPad. With a cocky smile on her face, Kat silently gestured to Adena and to her mom’s tablet. “Oh, and Kat can brew some fresh coffee for you both.” Susan pointed to the appliances, “Hun, look in the fridge, bottom drawer, and you’ll find some really good Honduran beans I recently bought.”

Kat assembled the old percolator, “Sure thing.”

“Good morning and thank you, Susan. That sounds lovely, but we don’t mean to make you work.”

“No bother at all, dear. It’s a new recipe I found on my iPad last week.”

“Where’s Dad?” Kat inquired, crossing the kitchen behind her mother.

“Oh, he’s downstairs carving a wooden duck for your uncle Lester. He hopes to finish and paint it before Christmas.”

Kat smirked at Adena, “Oh, you don’t say,” and Adena stuck her tongue out at her.

Susan pushed her reading glasses over her head and looked up, “Girls, I forgot to mention, we’re headed out to the neighborhood Christmas party at six tonight. It’s just three doors down, hosted by the Patel’s this year. I’m sure they would welcome you guys, too. Kat, you remember them?”

“Uh-huh. Aren’t they both dentists?”

“Exactly. They’re both retired, though. We’re all getting old, dear.”

“Thanks Mom, but we’re going to play things by ear today. If the snow and roads aren’t too bad, maybe go around and see my old schools. I want to show Adena our town.”

“Okay, Dad and I understand.” Susan closed her tablet and stood up, motioning with her hands, “I’m going to head upstairs for a shower. Adena please feel free to open kitchen cabinets, the pantry door, or the refrigerator, and eat anything you like, whenever you feel like it, dear. I want you to feel at home here.”

Adena went up to Susan and gave her a hug, “Thank you, I will.”

- - - - -
The snow was not totally cleared off the town’s main roads, so Kat could only show Adena a few landmarks before turning the small SUV back home in the late afternoon.

Marcus had grilled a bunch of shrimp kabobs to take to the neighborhood potluck gathering, and he gave Kat and Adena some for dinner. “Your mother also made some couscous, so have some of that too with your kabobs.”

“Thanks Dad, these look yummy.”

“Yes Marcus, they’re perfect.”

The girls finished eating at the dining room table, cleaned up the dishes, and moved into the living room. Kat lit the fireplace and went to pour herself and Adena some eggnog, turning on the stereo system’s radio to her dad’s favorite smooth jazz station on her way back. She handed Adena her drink and sat next to her on the white leather sectional, both enjoying the holiday music and soothing ambiance.

“You guys sure we can’t change your minds about joining us at the Patel’s?” Marcus asked, standing with Susan in the foyer, wrapping up in wool scarves and pulling on snow boots as they spoke.

The women both turned their heads in unison to look their way. “Yes Dad, we’re sure. We’re just going to have some eggnog and hang out by the tree, maybe test out your new 70-inch flat screen and watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ It’s Adena’s favorite American movie during our holiday.”

“Yes, it is.” Adena chuckled. “Thank you so much Marcus and Susan, but we’ll just stay in like Kat said. But you guys enjoy yourselves and don’t worry about us.”

“Yes guys, go have fun with your friends and stay out as long as you want. We’ll be just fine,” Kat winked and smiled at Adena.

As soon as the front door shut closed, and they heard the key turning the lock, Adena began necking with Kat. “Mmmm, someone’s in the mood again,” Kat quietly moaned, closing her eyes and indulging in the pleasure.

“Aziz-am, you just look so beautiful with the Christmas lights twinkling in your eyes, I can’t help it,” Adena said in a low tone. Kat stretched her arm forward and placed her drink down on the coffee table, pulling Adena in closer by the back of her head, pressing their lips firmly together for a kiss.

“Mmmm, you taste tangy, like your drink smells,” Adena commented, leaning back a bit from Kat’s face.

“Yeah, it’s the spiced rum. Dad buys the really expensive kind that’s very flavorful.” Kat licked her lips and blew air into her cupped hand to smell her own breath. “Sorry if it’s too strong for you. Should I switch to water?”

“No, no. Is fine.” Adena drew her face back closer to Kat’s and reintroduced their lips for a moment, then paused to speak, “Well, we have a little alone time, Kat-joon. What do you want to do?”

Kat looked at her and smiled. She stood up and threw two large faux fur pillows from the couch onto the designer area rug, both landing between the tree and the warm fireplace. She reached down and took Adena’s glass from her hand, placing it by her own drink on the marble table, finally pulling Adena up and over to the pillows by both hands. “Here, come lie down on the rug with me by the Christmas tree. I used to love doing this for hours as a kid.”

Once both were comfortably situated on the floor with heads on the pillows, the girls began kissing again. Kat pulled Adena partially on top of her, gripping her hair with her fingers, tangling their legs together, and stroking her back underneath her wool sweater, with her second hand. Kat’s breathing quickened as the goosebumps rose on Adena’s skin.

Adena parted their lips and kissed the side of Kat’s mouth, then the beating pulse at the base of her neck, causing Kat to become instantly damp and impatient, pulling Adena harder against her, reaching up and unsnapping her bra, and pulling her sweater further up to her shoulders. “Ohhh...fuck, Adena,” Kat moaned into the room.

Adena stopped and readjusted her sweater, panting in Kat’s neck, “Want to go upstairs?”

“No,” Kat responded and shook her head, sitting up and pulling her own sweater off over her head, exposing her tone middle and pink bralette, then she reached for Adena’s clothes.

Adena’s eyes widened, and she held Kat’s hands down, “But baby, we can’t do anything here. Your parents might come home any minute and catch us.”

“Dee, they just left and they won’t be back for a solid two hours.” Kat could see Adena’s concern still on her face, “But, if it makes you more comfortable, I’ll go throw the inside deadbolt on the door to be safe. That way they can’t just use their key to enter, we will have to physically let them in.” Kat quickly stood up and walked to the foyer, doing exactly what she had said. She also headed to the garage door entrance, behind the stairs, and secured that door with an inside slide bolt. “There, now they can’t surprise us through the garage, either.” She began walking back to join Adena on the floor but stopped abruptly, lifting her index finger to point behind her, “Oh, I forgot one more door. Don’t move...promise?... be right back.” Kat swiftly disappeared around the dining room archway.

“Okay, you know where to find me!” Adena snickered and shouted. She turned her head on the fury pillow and watched the colorful twinkling Christmas lights for a minute, then heard a noise and looked back towards the adjoining room. She propped herself up on both elbows, calling, “Kat?! Hey, come back! It’s now like Fort Knox in he - -“ Adena became speechless mid-sentence and her mouth snapped shut. Kat had come back around the corner of the living room completely in the buff, and stood in a seductive pose across the room from her.

“Hey you, didn’t someone ever tell you it’s rude to stare,” Kat teased with a forced frown.

Adena’s wide eyes slowly started traveling downward, from Kat’s face down to full breasts and sexy torso...continuing southward to long legs, all the way down to her feet, and back up again, admiring every inch of her fiancée’s curvy body. “Come here," She motioned, beckoning with a hand.

Kat slowly walked up to her and Adena felt more aroused the closer she got. Kat knelt down by her side, demanding, “Sit up.” Adena followed her command and Kat undressed her completely, dragging her fingertips painfully slow up her thighs, making her shiver. She slightly parted her legs and crawled over her on all fours, forcing Adena to again lay down flat on her back.

Kat dropped down on top and ghosted her lips over Adena’s, letting their sensitive breasts come in contact, until the artist opened her mouth wide and Kat pressed their lips together and introduced her warm tongue inside. The kiss was slow but full of emotion, with the intensity of what both women were desiring under the lit tree. Their lips were joined until both had to gasp for air and they separated. Kat’s warm, sweet breath feathered across Adena’s face and down to her neck, and the weight of her body felt glorious.

“You smell so good, Adena,” Kat whispered, as she inhaled the fragrance of her shampoo from her luscious hair. She began to nip at the artist’s earlobe then placed small kisses on the sensitive skin behind her ear, dragging her lips down the front of her neck, to her sternum, and across her chest. In desperate anticipation of what was next, Adena bucked her hips up at Kat causing her to let out a low groan.

Kat always dedicated a lot of attention to Adena’s breasts when they made love, enjoying the reactions she got out of her lover, and Adena never complained, always loving the extra stimulation while she gripped tightly to Kat’s shoulders, or raked her short nails up her back. As Kat moved her hand slowly down her right thigh, Adena rolled her hips against Kat’s middle, moaning and feeling increasingly dizzy, like she was teetering on the edge of a precipice. Just as Adena felt she might come from the friction against her lover’s stomach, Kat suddenly stopped and lifted her head up to look into her eyes.

“What baby?” Adena asked panting, cheeks flushed and hair strewn across the gray pillow beneath her.

Kat parted her lips and stared at her with hooded eyes, “Nothing. I just want to remember this moment and this feeling forever.”

Adena smiled and reached down with both hands to cradle Kat’s head, “I want to remember this moment forever too, my sentimental sweetheart.” Kat reciprocated with a playful look and smile, eventually turning mischievous as she lowered her head back down, commencing her descent to Adena’s lap, leaving a trail of soft wet kisses behind. “Ohh...Kat,” Adena cried and closed her eyes, focusing on the sensations she was getting from Kat’s mouth.

As Kat reached her destination, Adena spread her legs as wide as possible and leaned her head back against the pillow, releasing her lover’s head to touch her own breasts. Her body trembled and melted beneath Kat’s grip, feeling like she was losing her sanity. She took deep breaths trying to regain her composure when she felt Kat’s tongue penetrate her.

The fire felt pleasant on their naked torsos, and the room was filled with different sounds, a mix of soothing Christmas jazz, popping ambers, and sensual moans and groans. Under the glimmering colorful lights, Adena and Kat made passionate love.

- - - - -
At 10:09 p.m. there was a loud, continuous pounding on the downstairs door. “Shit!” Kat hustled down the stairs in a purple robe and her slipper-socks, shouting, “Coming!...I’m coming!” She unlatched the inside deadbolt and threw open the front door, letting her parents in.

“Sorry! I forgot...I locked this earlier.”

“Kat honey, we’ve been standing outside waiting in the freezing sleet for ten minutes. Why didn’t you answer your cellphone?” Susan said in a stern tone.

Kat suddenly remembered she had left her cellphone on the dining room table hours ago. “So sorry, Mom...I-I fell asleep and didn’t hear it.”

The older Edisons stood on the foyer tile dripping wet and shivering, peeling off layers of snow covered items. “What’s up, baby girl? You know this isn’t New York City,” her dad quipped.

“Ohhh...A-Adena just felt safer with the inside lock on.”

Marcus smirked and Susan gave Kat a funny look, cocking her head to the side. “Hmm, okay? Please let her know she has nothing to worry about here in our house.”

“Will do, Dad,”

“Plus, it’s too cold for the axe murderers to be out this time of night, “ Susan added.

“Yes, okay,” Kat nervously laughed. She swiftly turned around, and ran back up the stairs, trying to avoid any further questions on the matter. “Goodnight all, see you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight honey.”

Chapter Text

It was December 24th, Christmas Eve, and on the gray frigid day, Kat and Adena were headed downtown to ‘Portly Pete’s’ to meet Kimberly, JJ, and his new girlfriend for brunch. Afterwards they were going to the ‘Holiday Pin-Action Party’, a yearly Christmas Eve event at a local bowling alley. Kat knew Kimberly had also been dating someone new but she was alone on this trip, with no mention of her boyfriend’s status.

Kat entered the small parking lot cautiously, being careful not to maneuver the vehicle too abruptly. Although the lot was cleared of snow, there were ice patches in some places and she didn’t want to scare Adena by throwing the car into an unsuspected tail spin. She found a spot around the back of the building, up against the cleared snow piled into a massive mound. Kat turned off the ignition and unbuckled her seatbelt. She glanced over to the passenger side and smiled at Adena, “Hey beautiful, kiss me before we go inside.”

Adena smiled back and leaned closer, parting her lips slightly. Kat closed in and pressed her mouth perfectly into Adena’s, like a puzzle piece that had just found its mate. “Mmmm, babe,” Adena savored the kiss, then gently bit and pulled on Kat’s lower lip, releasing it to speak. “Have I told you what a good kisser you are?”

“Mmhmm...but let’s try it again to make sure,” Kat answered with squinted eyes, re-introducing their lips. This time around, the kiss went on longer, was more sensual and hungry. Kat reached up and grasped Adena’s covered hair with an open palm and applied pressure to deepen the kiss. At that moment, Kat felt like starting the car and turning it right back home ASAP, forgoing the brunch and her friends. But then, there was an interruption.

Tap...tap...tap! Kat released her lover’s lips and quickly spun her head around. Standing right by the driver’s door was a bearded JJ and a girl with straight black hair. He was tapping on Kat’s window and calling, “Hello there?”

“JJ!” Kat yelled, and opened up her door to promptly hop out of the SUV and warmly hug him. “Oh my god, it’s been too long dude. I’ve missed you! I hardly recognize you with this hairy beard.”

“Missed you too, Kitty.” The slim male released his grip on Kat and pivoted to his left. “This is my girlfriend, Molly Wu. Molly this is Kat Edison, my superhero.”

“Stop. I only saved you from that bully one time, in 5th grade,” Kat chuckled.

“Pleased to meet you,” the girl greeted and extended her hand for a limp shake.

“Very nice to meet you, too, Molly. I’ve been following you guys’s travels on JJ’s feed. How exciting.”

Molly giggled and wrapped her arm around JJ’s. “Yes, we are having fun. Going to go on an African safari next time,” JJ added.

Adena exited the vehicle and walked around the car and to their side, adjusting her hijab and placing her hand on Kat’s lower back. “Oh and this, JJ and Molly, is my beautiful fiancée Adena El-Amin.” Adena extended her hand out and everyone shook it. She then used her thumb to wipe some of her lipstick off of Kat’s face. “Thanks babe,” Kat whispered as the three walked towards the restaurant’s entrance.

- - - - -
Inside, the place was warm and smelled of freshly baked bread. The hostess greeted them and led them to the back table by the kitchen’s pizza oven, where Kimberly was already seated and looking at a menu. Her eyes lifted and lit up immediately when she saw Kat and JJ approaching.

“Oh-em-gee! Kimmy, it’s so good to see you, my girl!” Kat exclaimed with a big smile as the girl stood up to hug her.

Adena noted that Kimberly was as tall as Kat with beautiful honey-colored eyes. She had golden crochet braids and dressed very fashionable. To a stranger, Kat and Kimberly could be easily mistaken for sisters.

“Kat, oh it’s great to see you, too. And you also, JJ my man!” The three friends hugged then introduced Molly and Adena to Kimberly. They settled down and ordered their brunch.

“So, we should start with a toast to the brides-to-be, hip hip hooray,” JJ sung out. The group raised their water glasses and cheered, clicking them together in a toast.

Kimberly jumped in with, “Kat...Adena...this news makes my heart so happy and warm. Couldn’t happen to a nicer person...people. Welcome to the family, Adena! We know you must be super-special if our picky sister, Kat, chose you for her forever.” Everyone took a gulp of water and laughed.

Adena chuckled, “Is so sweet of you all, thank you.” Adena and Kat gazed lovingly at each other and they pecked on the lips.

“Thank you very much. Adena and I are very happy,” Kat uttered, then made a toast to great friendships and to the spirit of the holiday season. “Also, mark your calendars, May 8th is our big day in NYC. No excuses, my parentals are setting aside a bunch of hotel rooms for family and special guests. I’ll be sure to save you guys a space.”

- - - - -
As the waiter cleared plates, leaving the check for Kat who insisted on paying, JJ got a call on his cellphone and left the table. Adena rubbed Kat’s arm and excused herself to use the ladies room, and Molly followed her lead. “Okay babe, hurry back ‘cuz I’ll desperately miss you, “Kat jested and gave Adena a wink.” The two women stood up and walked to the back of the line formed outside the single-person unisex restroom. Kat and Kimberly were left alone to converse.

Kimberly smiled up at her friend and watched Adena walk away. “Adena is such a nice girl.”

“Oh man, life is good Kimmy. It’s so wonderful to be back home for the holidays and see you all. Molly also seems like a nice girl for our JJ.”

“She does. And, life surely is good,” Kimberly agreed and then paused to look at her childhood friend inquisitively. “Hey Kat, when did you know?”

Kat finished signing her credit card receipt and looked up, “Huh?”

“That you were attracted to girls?”

“Umm...after meeting Adena for the first time she awoke something inside of me, and I just could not get her out of my head. I knew that she was a lesbian, so that part was easy...you know...not having to figure out if she would be into me, too. But we had this tremendous chemistry together and I was pretty sure the feeling was mutual.”

“Wow, neat. Remind me, how did you guys meet?”

Kat explained how she had met the photographer, how their first encounter was negative and Adena was not amused by her visit to her studio. How they quickly became close; her arrest for defending Adena’s honor; their complications with Adena’s Visa and immigration issues; their wonderful time in Peru; and their heartbreak in Paris. “But in the end Kimmy, #love wins,” Kat finished and leaned back in her chair.

“I’m so happy for you, my friend. Adena is really swell.” Kimberly smiled and she and Kat glanced over to see that Adena and Molly were still waiting in line. “But...was that the first time you were attracted to a woman?” Kimberly turned back to face Kat, with the corners of her eyes crinkled.

Kat leaned forward in her seat and thought for a moment. “To be honest, my first attraction was in first grade, Miss Schanklen. I remember sitting in my little desk and having this warm feeling for her, and I loved going to school because I was going to see her. I thought it was admiration for the teacher, but now I know it was more like infatuation. She was beautiful...Yep, Miss S was my first girl-crush.”

“She was very nice, I remember her,” Kimberly nodded and Kat continued.

“Then in sixth grade I had a crush on Carmen, the exchange student from Mexico. I even dreamt one day she kissed my cheek at recess and I woke up for school smiling that morning.” Kat rolled her eyes and grinned. “I wonder what happened to her?”

“I think she ended up going to the Catholic high school across town, after middle school.” Kimberly watched as Kat took a sip from her water glass and checked her cellphone for messages. “Hey, remember at Brittney Jacob’s Sweet Sixteen bash when we played spin the bottle, and Liz kissed Sarah?”

“Yes...gosh, I had forgotten about that,” Kat chuckled.

“Then it was Liz’s turn and she spun and got you?”

Kat looked up to the ceiling briefly, “Uh-huh?”

“I remember you stood up quickly and said you needed to use the bathroom, darting out of the room. I followed you and you begged me to drive you home immediately.” Kat nodded and stared at her friend. “Was that because you didn’t want to kiss a girl, or because you were afraid you’d do it and like it?”

Kat sighed, “Hindsight is twenty-twenty, Kimbo. I think I was in denial, my friend. All those years I suppressed how I really felt, afraid my family and close friends would disapprove, judge me. But now as an adult, finding such a wonderful human being to complete my life, like Adena completes me, I don’t care if she’s a woman or what society thinks, and I feel totally free and content.” Kat handed the waiter the faux leather bill holder with their payment. “Plus now it’s easier to come out, if you have the right support system. And, my parents are wonderful about Adena and me. They are ecstatic that we are getting married and I’m settling down, no longer alone in this cold, cruel world,” Kat laughed quietly.

Kimberly reached across the table and rubbed Kat’s hand, “And JJ and I are both super-happy for you and supportive, Kat. When you posted you were engaged to a girl, we didn’t care. We can’t wait to go to your wedding and share in that special moment. You’re a lucky girl, but Adena’s an even luckier girl.”

“Aww, thanks Kimmy. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Kat reached up with her second hand and squeezed her friend’s shoulder, “Hey K, will you be my Maid of Honor? You are my oldest friend and my adopted sister. So I’d love for you to hold that spot.”

“Yes, I’d be really honored...Maid of Honor, honored.” Both women giggled. “Thank you Kat, thank you. I can’t wait to stand next to you and beautiful Adena, on that altar.”

“That’s awesome, my friend.”

“Hey...Have you guys secured a wedding venue and church, yet?”

“Yes, as matter of fact we got so lucky and found an old opera house turned theater, turned wedding venue, that you will love. It’s very quaint, in the heart of Greenwich Village. And, we have decided to hold our interfaith ceremony at the adjoining little park. It’ll be in this big white gazebo that the City lets us reserve for 35 minutes. The theater will provide extra folding chairs for us to use around it, then everyone will walk next door to the reception.”

“Oh, sounds very nice Kat. What about the honeymoon? Where are you guys thinking of going?”

“Ahhh yes...Adena thinks we’re going to Miami Beach, because she’s never been.” Kat paused and briefly looked over her shoulder, “But I’m actually taking her to Costa Rica to a secluded resort for three weeks. We have the honeymoon suite with our own private alcove and little pool, you know, for skinny dipping,” Kat raised her brows and Kimberly giggled. “It overlooks an amazing secluded beach for those long sunset beach walks she likes to take. It’s a big surprise. I’ll only tell her the real plans when we’re near the departing airport gate, in LaGuardia,” Kat silently laughed. “I’ve already reserved the room for that date and I can’t wait.”

“Wow Kat, I’m impressed. You truly have become the queen of romance. Can your Maid of Honor go, too? I’ll carry your luggage and bring you endless cocktails by the ocean.”

The girl’s broke out in loud laughter for a minute, then Kat stopped and abruptly answered, “Uh...that’s a no for you, dawg.”

- - - - -
The bowling alley was exactly as Kat remembered. Not a thing had changed since two years ago when she joined a group of friends and family members for a night of fun and games. The music featured for this year’s event was ‘2010’, and the DJ was playing a mix of tunes from the group’s high school and early college days. The loud pounding music and bowling pins crashing loudly into one another, plus the laser lights ricocheting off all four walls in the establishment, gave Kat and her friends déjà vu of high school hang outs and summer days gone by.

The group walked up to the counter and Kimberly paid for their shoe rentals and a few rounds of bowling, and they were assigned a lane. Kat soon found out Adena knew how to bowl and she was always a point behind her on the scoreboard overhead. “Man babe, you’re going to make me sweat to beat you,” Kat teased, as Adena bent down at the return to pick up her hot pink colored ball.

“Good luck, aziz-am. I got pretty good at this when I stayed with friends in Finland,” Adena bragged and smirked at Kat.

After completing the tenth frame, JJ and Molly took a quick break to go buy the next round of beer for the group at the bar, and Adena grabbed her wallet and went to the concession stand for another Sprite and an extra-large nachos plate for the group. “Be back soon, ladies.”

Kat and Kimberly sat on the blue plastic chairs at their lane and waited for them all to return. “So, what about you, girl? Are you still dating someone?” Kat asked.

“Oh it’s a complicated web I weave. Yes, you can say I still am dating Nate. But he’s...at the moment...Hmm, how to put this? Uh, trying to find himself and his true feelings.”

Kat’s forehead creased, “What? Oh no. Yes, sounds complicated. Been there, done that.”

“He’s 36 and legally separated from his wife of seven years. They have two little girls, ages three and four, and recently hooked up after a family wedding reception.” Kimberly’s eyes fell shut for a moment. She sighed and reopened them, now bloodshot and wet.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry, Kimmy. You don’t deserve that,” Kat put her arm around her friend’s shoulder and Kimberly laid her head on her.

“Perhaps I do, Kat. I knew he was married after our second date. But I still pursued our relationship.”

“You mean, separated. Not married.”

“Yeah, legally separated. But still, he had a wife and kids at home. He was still living in his finished basement with them and going on Tinder dates with other women. That’s how we met six months ago.”

Kimberly paused and Kat waited a bit before asking, “Well, is he worth it? How long are you going to wait fo him to find his ass?”

The girl let out another sigh, “I don’t know. We’ve already broken up once before. Because he was being very controlling and possessive. So I don’t know the answer to your question. Perhaps this should be a sign, right? Maybe I should open my eyes and realize he is not worth it.”

Kat nodded in response, “Perhaps it is a sign. My mom always says, ‘Better to be alone than with bad company,’ and I think she’s right.”

Kat’s doppelgänger chuckled, “Yeah.”

“And...whatever happened to Xavier Peterson? You guys always had a special connection and attraction.”

“Ahh, the ‘X-man.’ Yes, we did. He’s the best kiss I ever had. Remember that Kat, when you walked in on us in the back room of the gym?”

“How can I forget. That was the night we won and advanced to the State title game with our girls’ varsity volleyball team. You, on the other hand, got two wins...X-man’s lips and the team’s win.” Kat broke out laughing and Kimberly followed.

“Oh Kat, you always remind me of good times.”

“Maybe you should look Xavier up. I hear he’s in Newark, that’s not too far from you in Philly. The train takes you both ways in an hour.”

“Yeah maybe I should, huh? I think he’s a woman’s volleyball coach at a community college there. Hmm, great idea, Kat. You’re the best!” Kimberly turned and hugged her friend tightly.

Adena returned with her soda and tray of nachos. She laid the tray on the small side table and sat next to Kat. She smiled warmly at the girls, “Hey you two, what did I miss?”

“Oh just your amazing fiancée giving me relationship advice, Adena.”

“Ahhh, that she is. She’s amazing,” Adena agreed, patting Kat’s thigh.

- - - - -
After bowling, the five friends returned to Kimberly’s house for the rest of the evening. They were unwilling to part early. They hung out in her parents’s basement, which was always cozy and inviting, shooting pool and playing darts, foosball, and Pictionary on the Wii. Mrs. Hayes brought them apple slices, goldfish crackers, and caramel popcorn to munch on, and Mr. Hayes provided them with hot toddys.

“So, who can tell me some good stories about a young Kat Edison that I haven’t heard,” Adena inquired with a big grin on her face.

“Oh boy, fasten your seatbelts,” Kat replied, pocketing the cue ball. “Crap!”

“Hmm...let’s see? Good juicy stories? Have you heard about the time we all ditched school, our end of Junior year, to go skinny dipping in the lake, but the high school called our parents and we got in a lot of trouble? There were like five guys and eight girls in the murky water, all trying to keep a distance from each other ‘cuz...well, we were all bare-assed,” JJ snorted.

Kat added laughing, “Yeah, and we were all a bunch of horny teenagers. Hence, Rob Dormann trying to swim close to me. All I remember from that day is screaming at him to back away.”

“Oh Robbie! It’s safe to tell you now, he had a big crush on you Kitty. He told me he wanted to someday marry you,” JJ cackled and Adena found the revelation very amusing.

Kat snickered, “Oh? What the - -“

A very animated Kimberly interrupted, “Oh god, I remember being mortified when our parents somehow tracked us down to the actual lake. There we were, buck-naked. My mom was fuming,” Kimberly added. “All I heard in the back of the car ride home was, ‘A respectful young lady doesn’t cut class to swim naked with boys!’”

“Yeah, same. But you got off easy with just being grounded for a week, Kim. I was grounded for a frickin month after that,” Kat huffed. “No television, no car, no cell, nothing....ugh! Only school and athletics were my life.”

JJ laughed, “Oh man, kids do the dumbest things thinking they won’t get caught. My dad game me a swift kick in the butt while I got into his van.”

“Yeah...and you deserved it, dude.” Everyone laughed at Kim’s remark and Kat made a toast to teenage stupidity.

- - - - -
The funny stories continued, as well as the drinks, and by the end of the night Adena was the only one sober. It was late and time to go home. Kat and Adena stepped outside into the cold night’s breeze, Kat turned around pointing, and reiterated, “Remember, May 8th, 2 p.m. in New York City. Save the date, weirdos. Be there or be square!”

JJ responded from the doorway, “We wouldn’t miss it for the world, guys...Love you my kitty-Kat!”

“Already on my calendar, babe,” Kimberly giggled as she held on to Kat’s shoulder, twisting around to warmly embrace her and kiss her cheek goodbye, doing the same to Adena afterwards.

Kat staggered down the front porch’s steps and hollered back, “Okay, we love you guys sooo much! Hey...did you guy’s notice how hot my fiancée is?” Kat patted Adena on the butt three times and got her hand swatted away by the artist.

Adena chuckled and took the car keys from Kat’s hand, “Okay let’s go home, joon. We need to get you to bed fast.” She ended up driving the four blocks back to the Edison’s without any complains from Kat. Molly and JJ decided to crash on Kimberly’s basement pull-out couch for the night, since neither of them could drive home.

Adena parked inside the garage and led Kat out of the SUV by her hand, into the warm house. “Hi girls, how was your day with the kids?” Susan inquired, as soon as she heard the door opening from behind the staircase. She was on the living room couch watching a holiday movie with Marcus, who looked like he had just woken up.

“Terrr-rificc,” Kat answered. “But Mom...the kids are all grown up and graduated...and...why did you ground me for soooo long?”

Susan turned around and slowly nodded, not understanding her daughter’s question, and gave Adena a concerned look. “Is okay, Kat’s going to bed now. We had a really lovely time with Kimberly, JJ and his girlfriend Molly. I’m sure Kat will tell you both more in the morning. Goodnight.” Adena waved and pushed Kat in the direction of the stairs.

“Alright, goodnight girls.” Susan turned around and went back to watching her show, while Marcus fell back to sleep.

- - - - -
“Ohhh..” Kat moaned with her eyes closed, holding her hand over her forehead. The room was pitch dark still and the house quiet.

“Merry Christmas, baby,” Adena whispered, stretching her neck up and kissing Kat’s chapped lips. “How do you feel?”

“Mmph...like I have a vise on my head. Ouch.” Kat cracked her eyes open and looked into Adena’s eyes, “Merry Christmas, love. Sorry...I drank too much last night. But, I’ll feel better after coffee and a couple of aspirins, promise. What time is it?”

Adena propped her head on one elbow and glanced at the desk clock, “Just a little before six...is very early.” She pulled the covers back and got out of bed, heading to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. She quickly returned with a jar of aspirin and a glass of water for Kat. “Here sweety, takes these and I’m going to go downstairs and bring us back two cups of coffee from the Keurig. Close your eyes and wait for me in bed.” The artist threw on her robe and left the room.

Adena returned a few minutes later with the coffees and made Kat sit up to drink half. “Thanks Dee, this will work in a little bit. Come, come back into bed with me.” Kat threw the duvet back and Adena lost the robe and crawled back under it, snuggling close to her girl.

Three hours later Kat woke up feeling much better and hungry. Adena stirred and also awakened. “H-Heyy...you better?” Adena asked in a breathy voice.

“Yes love, my headache’s almost none existent.” Kat turned and faced Adena, “Let’s try it again. Merry Christmas.” Kat wrapped her hand around Adena’s lower back and pulled her close, crashing their lips together for a heated kiss.

“Mmmm, Merry Christmas to me,” Adena mumbled into Kat’s lips. “I really have to pee.”

- - - - -
A half-hour later, the girls came downstairs and found the parents in the kitchen. They were sitting at the counter enjoying a big meal of eggs, pancakes, bacon and fruit. “Hey, Hey! Well, Merry Christmas you two!” Marcus cheered.

“Yes, Merry Christmas! Please sit down and join us. You’re just in time for Dad’s traditional Christmas Day grub.”

“Thanks Mom And Dad.” Adena and Kat hugged both parents and joined them for breakfast, discussing all their previous night’s capers with their friends, expressing all the fun they had.

After kitchen clean up, the foursome headed to the living room to open gifts. Marcus turned on the radio to Christmas music and lit a fire. The tree looked stunning, a kaleidoscope of colors and presents underneath. Kat and Adena had previously mailed two big boxes filled with their gifts to Connecticut, avoiding having to drag them on the train with them. Inside the boxes were individual presents for each parent, one separate one for the Edison household, and individual presents for the children attending the Christmas family feast at Kat’s aunt’s house, later. Kat always made it a point to bring her little second cousin’s a toy for Christmas, and Adena had fun picking them out with her. Kat also brought an assortment of makeup samples from Scarlet for the four teenage girls in the family, as well as extra copies of the Fall edition of the magazine.

Kat sat under the lit tree with Adena and handed everyone their respective gifts. “And this one, my love, is yours.” She handed Adena a medium sized wrapped box. “Open it first,” she requested.

“Ooh, wonder what it is?” Adena grinned widely, shook the box and unwrapped it, finding a much smaller gift box inside. It was wrapped in sparkly red paper with a gold bow, and in it Adena found a one-of-a-kind rose-gold heart locket necklace. “Beautiful!” Upon opening the locket, she saw a mini black and white photo of Kat on one knee proposing to her. The piece was engraved in the back, ‘My Heart is Forever Yours.’ She teared up and gave Kat a big hug, whispering in her ear, “So is my heart. Asheghetam.” A tear escaped and trailed down Adena’s cheek and Kat wiped it with her thumb, kissing her forehead softly.

“Asheghetam, Adena,” Kat whispered back. “Here baby, let me put it on you.”

Adena turned around, gathered and lifted her long hair up and Kat put the necklace on her. She looked down at it and smiled, pulling away, reaching for a gift buried deep behind the tree. “This one’s for you, love.”

Kat quickly tore open her box, digging through piles of scrunched up tissue paper to find a small silk pouch at the bottom. Inside was a gold diamond cut ear cuff with tiny sapphires and ‘Asheghetam’ engraved inside. “Wow, it matches my wedding band. It’s just so beautiful, babe. Thank you!” The girls leaned forward and kissed again. Kat took it out of its wrapping and Adena clipped it on her ear.

“Is lovely on you, Kat.” The fiancée’s embraced again lovingly.

“Hey you two, look this way and say cheese.” Marcus aimed his new Canon Sureshot up at the girls and snapped a couple of pictures. “Okay, I’m mailing them to you as I speak...done!”

“Is that the camera we sent you for your birthday? I love it,” Adena smiled.

“Yes dear, and Marcus has become so tech-savvy with it,” Susan answered.

“Okay, your turn, guys.” Kat and Adena watched as the parents opened up their gifts. They gave Marcus the new power drill he was looking for and Susan a keyboard for her iPad. There was also a Bose Portable Home Speaker for their kitchen in another box. “That one is really nice guys, you’ll love the sounds it puts out.”

“Thank you girls, it’s all wonderful.”

“Yes, just lovely. But you spent so much on us,” Susan bowed her head and held her hand over her heart.

“Nah, you guys are worth it,” Kat replied.

Susan and Adena collected the torn wrapping off the floor while Kat and her dad figured out the Bluetooth speaker. “I’m going to go upstairs and shower. Remember, lunch at aunt Patty’s is at 1 p.m. sharp, everyone.”

“Okay, Mom. We promise to be ready on time.”

- - - - -
Christmas lunch with Susan’s side of the family went smoothly. Everyone was feeling festive and joyous. They were all very welcoming of Adena and extremely happy for Kat’s engagement and upcoming nuptials. Kat knew her mom had prepared the family in advance for their situation, being two women in love and Adena’s Muslim background, and she was glad. So everyone behaved, including her Uncle Jim and Aunt Peggy, who tended to be right-winged and the most religious of the Goodman family. They only got a couple of strange looks from the two great-aunts when they first arrived at the party, but even they eventually came around, laughing with Adena and telling her funny stories about the children and elders.

Once back at her parents’ house, in early evening, Kat stood behind a freshly showered Adena, who was moisturizing before bed in their bathroom, staring at her new necklace in the mirror. Kat brushed her hair to the side and buried her face in her neck. “Mmmm, you smell so devine,” Kat said faintly, painfully dragging her lips on Adena’s skin.

Adena closed here eyes and let out a soft whimper, ”Hmmm, that feels sooo good,” reaching up and over with her left hand to softly scratch the back of Kat’s neck.

“Wait ‘til I get you in bed,” Kat teased, trying to untie Adena’s robe.

“Hey?” Adena quickly turned around to face Kat, fisting her hands in her sleep shirt. “I had a really wonderful time tonight. Your family was all very warm and inviting. Some day I hope my Persian family can reciprocate with a similar reaction to you.”

“Umm well...I’m pretty damn irresistible, so that won’t be a problem,” Kat joked, holding Adena by both hips. They shared a chuckle, but then Kat got a very serious look on her face. She gazed deeply into Adena’s eyes, like she was looking into her soul, “God, you are heaven on earth. Sometimes I feel like a drug addict must feel...can’t get enough of you, babe.”

“Me too,” Adena replied in a soft whisper, and stood on her tippy toes to reach Kat’s lips. But Kat denied her, pushing her own face back and away, releasing her grip, and sauntering backwards out of the bathroom.

“Finish up, Dee. I’ll be waiting for you in bed,” she said as she disappeared around the doorway.

After hearing those words, Adena felt her heart racing and she became crazy with desire. She rushed to brush her teeth and dabbed some of her lavender body splash on her wrists and neck, turning off the lights and walking up to the side of the bed, where Kat laid. The intensity of Kat’s stare was almost paralyzing. Adena barely managed to pull at the tie on her robe and she let the fabric slide off of her shoulders, onto the ground, having a hard time catching her breath. Kat looked her up and down, and swallowed hard, lifting the comforter back, and Adena crawled into the bed in just black panties.

- - - - -
It was Sunday, their final morning visiting New Canaan. The girls woke up early to do some laundry and pack. They left the house just briefly, to catch an early lunch with Kat’s parents in the downtown area. After returning, they collected all their things and relaxed by the fireplace one last time. A few hours later, Marcus and Susan drove them to the railroad station and they boarded the 4 p.m. train back south to New York City. It was the best six days Kat ever spent in her hometown...her heaven on earth.

Chapter Text

“Yes...yes. Okay, Mom I will...sure, for sure. Sounds too good to pass up...yes. We’ll talk about it tonight and get back to you soon.” A pajama clad Kat was lying down in bed on her side, with cellphone pressed between her ear and her memory foam pillow, talking to her parents. “Um...uh-huh.” With a cheesy smile, she reached over with her free hand and went under Adena’s flannel sleep shirt, gently caressing a warm breast.

Adena was lying on her back next to her, reading intensely. She turned to look at Kat and quickly grabbed her elbow, pulling her arm out of her shirt. With raised eyebrows, she mouthed the word, “Behave,” at Kat and pointed to the phone, then held up the book she was reading, quietly stating, “Tell Marcus I love the book and am grateful he recommended it to me.”

“Oh...Hey...Adena says thank you for the book suggestion. She’s halfway through the novel, Dad. Oh?...Uh-huh...I did hear that, Mom.” Kat rolled her eyes at Adena and smiled. “Too funny. Okay...Okay, Mom. What Dad? Repeat, please....ha! Will do. We love you too, guys. Have a safe trip and enjoy the Caribbean...Bye-bye!” Kat took the phone away from her ear and tapped the screen, disconnecting the call, stuffing the device under her pillow.

“Is everything good in Connecticut?” Adena asked, not turning away from her book.

“Yes, everything’s good. They’re flying to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow to take a cruise around the Bahamas.” Kat reached over again, lifting Adena’s shirt a bit and just laid her toasty hand on her bare stomach.

“Ooh, a cruise...is very nice,” Adena cooed.

Kat shook her head, “I hate when they call me on speakerphone ‘cuz Mom monopolizes the conversation and doesn’t let Dad speak.”

Adena chuckled, “But when she doesn’t put the call on speaker, you said she hands the phone over to your Dad for like...only two minutes.”

“Uh-huh, poor Dad. Oh well, they’ve been married for 33 years so guess he’s used to it by now. Or he’s given up.” Kat laughed to herself. She’s softly scratching at Adena’s stomach and nudging the artist’s shoulder with her nose.

Adena smirked and saved her spot in her novel with an old Paris movie stub she always used as a bookmark, closing the book and laying it down on her nightstand. She turned over and mirrored Kat. “So, what else did your parents say? What did they want us to talk about tonight?” Adena reached up and moved some rogue curls out of Kat’s face, hooking them behind her ear.

“Oh...THAT. Yes, my parents have good friends, Rob and Roma, who are looking to sell their mother’s place. Roma’s mom is frail and elderly and, like three months ago, they permanently moved her from New York City to live with them in Texas. It’s a condo in East Village that needs work. Everything’s apparently well maintained but original...a-k-a, old.” Kat shifted a bit closer to Adena. “Mom suggested we look at it or something.”

“Hmm, East Village? Sounds expensive. And babe, I really want a small yard in our future, you know, to grow vegetables in the summer...plant a tree...have a small swing set for our little ones...uhm, maybe?” Adena reached down and slid her hand in Kat’s pant-bottom and laid it over her butt to warm.

“Oh my god...your hands are always so cold,” Kat grimaced. “Here, let me read you the description of the place while you suck up my body heat .” Kat dug under her pillow and pulled up the realtor’s site on her phone.

Adena perked up, “Oh, is on the market?”

“No, not yet. Roma’s friend is a part-time realtor and just created this anticipating a listing. Mom sent me the link. Listen...” Kat cleared her throat and began reading: “Sun-filled and spacious, converted 3 bedroom penthouse duplex condominium - -“

“Condo? Ugh no patio, joon.”

Kat continued, “...with a huge outdoor space, private roof-deck and balcony.”

“Mhmm, pseudo-patio,” Adena rolled her eyes.

“The brick house building formerly housed a steel and concrete warehouse.”

“Oh...good construction.”

“This bright and cheerful home features open southern and western exposures, two marble bathrooms, wood beamed ceiling, white oak hardwood floors, set back windowed open-kitchen, thru-the-wall A/C’s and vented washer-dryer in hallway closet. This apartment is move-in-ready for - -“

“Sounds good on paper,” Adena interrupted and closed her eyes.

“They always do. Says here it is located a few blocks from Tompkins Square Park, East River Park and Promenade. You know there are tons of eateries around there we have frequented. Also bars I’ve been to.”

“A few, yes.”

“Ahh...pets are welcome. Only a three flight walk-up...we won’t need to go to the gym, Dee...and maybe a pet is in our near-future.”

“Only if you clean up after it...and walk it while I sleep in.”

“That’s what the patio is for, silly. Also, bus stops outside the building and Citibike station across the street. New roof.” Kat finished reading and laid her phone down on the bed behind her.

“Biking in New York terrifies me. But the bus situation sounds good for commuting.” Adena scratched her nose with her free hand and squinted her eyes open, “Okay, let’s go see it.

“Yeah? You’re in?” Kat swung her arm and leg over Adena and smothered her face with kisses.

Adena opened her eyes wide and giggled loudly, “Yes...I’m in, I’m in!”

- - - - -
The following Sunday was a brisk February day. Kat and Adena were dropped off by their ride outside the East Village condo building and met Roma’s friend in the updated lobby. The long haired, middle aged woman was already waiting for them and let them inside the secured building.

“Hello ladies, very nice to officially meet you. I’m Elvira and I think you’re going to love this place.” She shook their hands and led the way up the three flights of stairs to the front door, a bit winded from the climb.

The apartment was spacious inside, with lots of potential. Adena remained attentive but quiet throughout the tour and Kat enthusiastically noted, “This could be nice once we spend some money to redo the floors, paint walls, upgrade the kitchen and baths...hmm? It is big and has all the essentials we need, three bedrooms, two baths, etcétera. The lighting is great, Dee.” Adena nodded but remained silent.

“Yes, as I mentioned to Kat on the phone before, it is definitely a nice place to live long term and perhaps even start a family.” Kat and Adena looked up at each other and smiled. “Now, let’s see the glorious bonus and take a walk out to the roof deck,” Elvira unlocked the glass door and was immediately interrupted with an incoming call, “Pardon me gals, I must take this one,” pointing to her phone. The woman stepped out the front door into the hallway, leaving Kat and Adena alone to talk.

Adena pushed the sliding glass door open and stepped outdoors into the cold, walking around the corner to the end. “Oh my gosh, look Kat a greenhouse! I’ve always wanted one of these.” Adena’s eyes lit up and she smiled ear-to-ear, as Kat joined her by the large deck’s railing and snuggled up to her for warmth.

“Yes babe! It’s perfect for the gardening you want to do.” Kat pointed down in front of them with excitement, “Just look at all these hanging plant boxes on the railing, too. Oh, and there’s a gardener’s work bench by the wall. You certainly could grow beautiful flowers in these boxes come spring and summer. Maybe even peppers and tomatoes. And, there still would be room for some outdoor furniture, and...” Kat whispered the last part in Adena’s ear, “...perhaps a small kid’s jungle gym?” She closed her eyes and pressed her chin to the top of Adena’s head, waiting for a reaction. “Well, what ya thinking? Nice, huh?”

“Is nice...after we pour a bunch of money into it.” Kat opened her eyes and looked down to gaze into Adena’s eyes. “I like the sun exposure and the spacious master bedroom with fireplace...this outdoor space...the lovely greenhouse is a bonus.” Adena gestured at the deck with her extended arm. “A child could certainly ride a tricycle around her, after we redo the railing for extra-security.”

“Yes I like all those things, too. I also love all the windows in the living room. Doesn’t feel confined and dingy like most City apartments. But can you see us living here, babe?”

Adena turned in Kat’s arms with a concerned look on her face, “How can we afford this, Kat? I don’t want to get in over our heads.” She buried her face in Kat’s chest and lamented, “it’s so depressing. Everything we look at is so expensive, and most is very small and gross. This is the best by far, although I’m still not totally sold on a condo.”

Kat squeezed Adena tighter to her body, “Baby, I know purchasing a place is scary and pricey but we can manage. We are both great at budgeting and have good paying jobs. Plus, I know you don’t like to hear this but...my parents have offered to help pay for half, and we can pay for the renovations with our savings. It’ll be okay, I promise.”

Adena looked up, distraught, “I just don’t want to be dependent on their money. I want for us to make it on our own.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Kat kissed the top of Adena’s hijab, cupped her face with one hand and lifted her chin up slightly, to look into her cinnamon colored eyes. “Remember, I’m their only daughter and they are more than happy to help us. They’d rather give us the money now than leave it to us when they’re gone. And...we can repay them with grandchildren,” Kat chuckled.

A gust of frigid air swept around the adjoining building, up and over the deck wall, tousling Kat’s loose curls around. Adena stared at Kat and then shivered, “Brrr!”

“Here, let’s go back inside and take one more walk-through of this place by ourselves, before Elvira returns. That way you can give me your honest run-down on each room.” Kat opened the glass door and followed her fiancée inside, taking pictures with her phone of Adena standing in each area of the place for posterity.

- - - - -
“Okay, sorry about that girls,” Elvira said, as she re-entered the home a bit later, meeting the girls in the kitchen. “My elderly neighbor wants me to look at her one-bedroom place too, for possible sale. I tell ya, that generation is all moving out of the area.”

“It’s the circle of life, my parents say, but more homeownership opportunities for us young couples starting out.” Kat smiled and picked up two purses off the kitchen counter, handing one to Adena.

“So, whatcha’ think? Is this your future home, ladies? It is a steal at this price and has so much potential. You guys look like a creative couple who could do wonders with this home.”

Kat reached over towards her fiancée and lightly rubbed her back, “Uhm, we both like it a lot and want to sleep on it a couple of days, Elvira.”

“Yes, Kat is right. We like it, is lovely, and will consider it.” Adena circled the dingy linoleum kitchen floor with her right foot, looking up and over at Kat then back to the realtor, “When will it be made public...for sale officially?”

“I’m not sure, Roma wants to sell it fast but it’s of such sentimental value...so. She would rather sell it to someone she’s familiar with. She says she wants to do the place justice and find a caring person, or couple, that will cherish it as much as her parents did when they moved to New York City in 1973. This is Roma’s childhood home...she’s very attached to it.” Elvira lifted the corner of her mouth into a slow half-smile and surveyed both women’s expressions. “Anyways, happy to have shown it to you both. Here’s my card, call me if you change your mind or need a realtor in the future.”

The threesome exchanged handshakes, took the burgundy carpeted stairs down to the lobby, and parted ways outside. “Thanks again for meeting us, Elvira. Adena and I will be in touch soon.”

Kat watched Adena surveying the other buildings across the street and suggested they walk the two-and-a-half blocks to Tompkins Square Park to peruse the neighborhood better. “Okay, but let’s get you properly bundled up joon. I don’t want you getting sick.” Adena wrapped Kat’s ginger colored scarf tightly around her neck, tucking it into her puffer coat and zippering it all the way up.

- - - - -
Back in Chelsea, Adena took Kat’s phone off the kitchen table and reviewed each photograph of the condo while Kat was in front of the stove preparing her baked macaroni dish for their dinner, whistling cheerfully and drinking warm German mulled wine. They were in comfy sweats now and Kat wore her sexy Catwoman apron and fury slippers. The sight made Adena grin widely and warmed her heart vastly, grateful that this wonderful woman will be in her life forever.

“Hmm, is not so bad now that I’m looking at these,” Adena hummed and held up the phone so Kat could see the screen.

“Oh babe, I just used up all the almond milk on my dish...will have to run to the bodega for more later, or we won’t have anything to put in our morning coffee tomorrow.” Kat was stirring a boiling pot of elbow pasta and turned her head around, “Yeah? The sunny condo is growing on you?”

“Uh-huh..maybe.”

After dinner Adena pulled up the realtor.com webpage on her laptop and Kat sat next to her on the couch massaging her shoulders. She swung her leg behind the artist and said, “Here beautiful, lean back on me and relax. Let’s go over our top choices together.” Adena stretched and grabbed a steno pad and pen she kept by the couch, scooted back between Kat’s legs and against her chest, ready to jot down their notes. With computer on her lap, she clicked through the website and they discussed the pros and cons of their top picks. From the 21 places they had visited in person in the last five weeks, Kat narrowed her list down to five viable homes. But Adena had less choices.

“These are my only three, based on price, location, and sidewalk aesthetics.” Adena placed the laptop on the adjacent coffee table and held up the note pad for both to see.

Kat had finished kneading her shoulders and had moved up to massaging her scalp with her fingertips. She looked at Adena’s paper and chuckled, “Okay, that makes sense.”

“Mmmm,” Adena closed her eyes and moaned softly, lost in the sensations. “Wait, what’s so funny...what makes sense?” She popped open her eyes and interjected, reaching up with one hand behind her to stop Kat’s ministrations.

“No, nothing bad. Just that outside aesthetics are so important to you. I get it, you are an artist with an eye for beauty, and it’s important to you that we live in an eye-pleasing building, too. Yes, I agree with your criteria. But the outside of the building isn’t a big factor for me. As long as it’s a safe neighborhood, I’m good.”

“But of course, Aziz-am. You wouldn’t want to buy an ugly house, so why can’t the high rise building also be attractive on the outside?” Adena sat up and moved away from Kat to sit criss-cross. “This is our future, long-term home...hopefully.” Adena crossed her fingers and her arms. “I need to be 100% satisfied with the entire package.”

Kat noticed Adena was a bit quieter after her aesthetics comment, so she sat up and leaned forward comparing their lists. “Okay, sure...small potatoes. Let me see your three choices,” Kat took the pad away from her hands. “All...righty, we matched two, the tiny brownstone in Clinton and today’s East Village Condo...Hmmm, why don’t you like the two bedroom in Chelsea?”

“Too pricey and no outdoor area,” Adena pouted.

“Okay...this is NYC...but, what about the giant loft in Lenox Hill? We talked about its potential and splitting it up into rooms, creating nice separate spaces with new walls,” Kat gestured with her hands. “Plus it has a small balcony and rooftop common area.”

“Is not the best location. That busy avenue scares me for getting in and out. And, too noisy. Imagine a toddler walking on that sidewalk,” Adena added with a scared look on her face.

Kat looked up at Adena and sighed, “It’s nice inside...noisy only outside.” She rolled her eyes, “I think you’re being too picky.”

“I’m NOT picky, I just don’t like it.” Frustrated now by Kat’s comment, Adena took the papers back from Kat’s hands, pointing at the blue ink. “Why don’t you like my third choice, the brownstone in Brooklyn?”

“Too far to commute to work. I’m not spending another 40 minutes in public transport five days a week, exhausted from working long hours.” Adena now let out a big sigh and Kat darted her head at her.

“But is across from that nice charter school, joon. The one you said you liked when I asked you, remember? We may want to have our children attend it.” Adena wasn’t fond of Kat’s negative expression as she spoke and she let her know, “Now you’re being hard headed.”

Exasperated, Kat waved both hands in the air, “I said that just to please you, but...no way. Our kids are going to private school. End of discussion!” The room was silent for what seemed like an hour, but it was just for a brief moment. When Kat raised her eyes up to meet Adena’s, she saw nothing but anger.

“Fine! Then you decide where everyone is going to live and attend school, and send me the address.” Adena huffed and threw the notepad and attached pen on top of Kat’s lap, quickly standing and disappearing into the bathroom, slamming the door shut. ‘Click!’ Kat knew this was serious when she heard the bathroom lock turn.

“Oh fuck,” Kat mumbled. She was feeling hot under the collar too, so she sat on the couch quietly for a few minutes, taking long, deep breaths in through her nose and exhaling through pursed lips. Eventually she dropped the notepad on top of Adena’s computer, grabbed her cellphone and wallet from the side table and stood up, walking by the front door and putting on her coat. She slipped on her black checkered Vans and stepped by the bathroom door, announcing she was going to take a walk around the block and return in a while. “I’m gonna go walk to the convenience store for milk.”

“Whatever,” was Adena’s muffled response from beyond the locked door.

“Great!” Kat shouted and turned the doorknob, rushing out of the apartment, down the stairwell to the lobby. She forcefully pushed the heavy metal door open to leave, silently mumbling a bunch of explatives to herself.

- - - - -
As Kat carelessly exited through the lobby stairwell door, she bumped into her elderly neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Weaver. “Oh good evening beautiful young lady,” Mrs. Weaver greeted. “You startled us, child.” The elderly woman held her hand up to her chest and her husband had wide eyes.

“Oh...Hello folks,” Kat half-smiled at the two holding hands sweetly. “Sorry about that...I didn’t think anyone was down here.”

“Where are you rushing off to in such a haste? It’s ugly outside, you may want to go back upstairs and get your umbrella out. The weather man said it might snow you know,” the frail thin man advised. “If you’d like, I can lend you mine.” He extended his shaky hand out holding a large plaid parasol. It dripped water on the old marble floor between his feet.

“Nah, Mr. W, I have the hoodie on my coat I can use. But thanks for the warning.” Kat pulled her hood over her head and gave them a forced chuckle, proceeding to walk by them, to exit the building.

The man cleared his throat, “You rushing out to buy that pretty friend of yours something? Like some candy?”

“I’m sorry...” Kat stopped and turned back around to face them both.

“Well, why else would you go out this late on a Sunday with awful weather, baby girl,” his wife concluded.

Kat smiled genuinely now, “No, I’m not going to the store for that...imma going for a walk to...get some exercise...and some milk, perhaps.”

The couple smiled at each other and the man continued, “You know, today is our 70th anniversary. Not of marriage, but of when we met in school. We are high school sweathearts, Kat. Bet you didn’t know that.”

“No, I didn’t know that. How wonderful...happy anniversary!” Kat smiled and was feeling a bit less upset now, preoccupied with their story.

“I met Glenda at Jefferson High School when we were 16 and 18.”

“Thomas was my hero. You know, he once punched a bully to defend my honor? Yes child, this skinny old man right here got all in this boy’s face for saying I was ugly. That boy was actually mad at me for turning his advances down and wanted to degrade me. But Thomas wouldn’t have nothing of that.”

Kat giggled and pushed her hoodie back off, “Oh my, you go Mr. W!”

“And you know another thing, she’s still as beautiful today as when she was 16.” Glenda patted him on the face and he kissed her cheek. “Oh don’t be fooled, we’ve had our share of fights and disagreements in our 67 years of marriage. But it all just brought us closer. The secret is be a good listener, don’t sweat the small stuff, and never go to bed mad...and buy her candy in her favorite flavor.”

“Aww, that’s great advice Mr. W. Thank you.”

Glenda turned to her husband smiling, “Thomas, let’s let this child go do her shopping.” Then she turned back towards Kat, “Give lovely Adena our best. She’s a sweet child, too. Always holding the door open for us, or helping me carry groceries to the elevator. She also brought us homemade cookies last week. You’re both very lucky to have each other in this world.” Glenda placed her hand back over her heart, “Give her our love.”

Kat nodded and smiled, “Will do, see you both again later.”

“And buy her some candy!” Kat heard bellowed in a raspy voice as she stepped outside into the night’s chill.

- - - - -
An hour later Kat was back home, turning the lock to her place and entering into a semi-dark apartment. Adena was in bed with her earphones on, head propped up on three pillows watching something on her laptop. “Hey,” Kat called out as she slipped off her shoes and hastily walked to the fridge to put the almond milk away. Adena didn’t respond and kept her eyes casted downward.

Kat went and hung up her coat on the brass hook by the entry then washed her hands in the bathroom, padding back over and sitting on the side of the bed next to Adena. She lifted her sweatshirt up and brought out a small wrapped item she had slipped into her t-shirt pocket, laying it on top of Adena’s keyboard.

“What is this?” Adena paused her show and asked quietly, as she pulled out both earbuds and stared down at the item, avoiding eye contact with Kat.

“Something sweet for my sweetheart.”

“Huh?” Adena scrunched her face and briefly glanced up at Kat.

“They only had licorice and strawberry...so I got you strawberry, your favorite.”

Adena stared at the small paper baggie and let out a breath, tapping her fingers on the edge of the keyboard.

Kat inhaled deeply and exhaled, “Look, I’m sorry I pissed you off earlier. I was being insensitive and not a good listener.” Adena kept tapping her fingers slower but didn’t look up, and Kat continued speaking, “I know finding the perfect place to live is important to you, to both of us, and we are going to keep looking until we find that place that feels right, no matter how long it takes. I just don’t want us to sweat the small stuff. You know, fight over things that aren’t even a priority in the big picture.”

Kat reached over the screen for the little white bag and pulled it back. “You know, I’d be happy living in a cardboard box with you...or a pillow fort,” Kat chuckled, but Adena kept a straight face. “I guess w-what I’m trying to say is, home for me is wherever you are. And no matter where we move to, I just want you by my side...an-and, of course we are going to mutually decide where our children go to school. I was just being an asshole at that point in our discussion.” Adena remained unmoved and Kat started to feel desperation. “Baby...please forgive me for that too?” Kat’s voice cracked as she begged and hoped for forgiveness.

Adena stopped tapping and drew watery eyes up at Kat, pressing her lips firmly together to control her emotions. Seeing this, and immediately trying to lighten the mood and distract Adena, Kat reached into the baggie and pulled out an Arcor Stawberry Filled Bon Bon, unwrapped it and popped it into her own mouth. Adena let out a small puff of air through parted lips and watched Kat’s mouth, “Wha- -?”

“My Grammie Gilda used to always carry these in her purse and give us kids one every time we saw her.” Kat swirled the hard candy in her mouth, pushing it against her teeth. “I prefer licorice but sometimes you just have to compromise for your love.”

“Hmm?” Adena hummed and shrugged, not fully understanding.

Kat reached over and took the electronic device off of her fiancée’s lap and moved it over to her nightstand, leaning down and pressing their foreheads together. Her hot breath fanned over Adena’s mouth and she skimmed her fingertips on the artist’s shoulder. Not sure how to react, Adena rested her intertwined hands on her own lap while Kat shifted forward further and pressed their lips together, for a gentle kiss.

Adena could smell the sweet sugary treat on her lover’s breath and closed her eyes. Kat angled her head slightly and peaked the tip of her tongue out, pressing it against Adena’s warm lips. She held it there until Adena opened her mouth, granting her access inside. Their kiss was slow and sensual, and Adena gradually opened her mouth wider. Kat took advantage of the situation and pushed the hard candy into it with her warm tongue.

With one last kiss, Kat pulled her head back and released their lips. The artist was now left with the task of finishing the sweet bon bon by herself. Kat sat up and grinned, not breaking eye contact with Adena, watching her now swirl the sweet treat around in her own mouth. Adena licked the strawberry syrup from her lips, finishing the candy a couple of minutes later before she spoke. “You know Kat, I had already brushed my teeth.”

Kat smiled and winked, “Well, sometimes you have to compromise for your love.”

- - - - -
April 1st was known as ‘April Fools Day’ to everyone in Western countries as an occasion for playing tricks on others, but on this Friday it was no laughing matter at all. It was officially move-in day into Kat and Adena’s new home. The girls had finalized the purchase of their new condo a month prior and all the renovations were completed to their liking. Wood floors were refinished and lightly stained, walls were freshly painted in warm and neutral tones, the new recycled glass countertops were installed in the kitchen and bathrooms, and the outdoor wood deck was recovered in composite eco friendly boards. The condo in East Village, that needed so much work, was now a little gem of a starter home for the fiancées.

The movers Kat hired were bringing in many boxed items and Adena’s few treasured antique furniture pieces. Kat donated most of her IKEA items to the Harlem thrift shop, but kept a floor lamp and the three small bookshelves to use in the master closet for shoes and sweaters. A brand new king size mattress was being delivered later in the afternoon, with a beautiful antique wrought iron headboard Adena had fallen in love with in Queens, found months ago during one mid-Saturday afternoon date with Kat. Kat recalled that faithful moment, when they were eating at a mom-and-pop coffee shop and Adena spotted the estate sale sign on the sidewalk. She convinced her to go look for treasures after they paid the bill. Sure enough, the large ornate headboard was looking for a new buyer, after the person who wanted it backed down. “Oh Kat, I have to have it. It’s French vintage and so lovely,” Adena ran her fingertips over the weathered curves of the metal. “Imagine how it’d look in our bedroom one day!” So Kat broke down and agreed to buy it and had it hauled to a friend’s warehouse for storage. Today, she was having the movers make an extra trip to Tribeca to retrieve the headboard and surprise Adena with it in their master bedroom.

“Okay guys, be careful with our floors they were just done a few days ago. If you scratch them it’ll be hell to pay for me,” Kat announced as she led the movers to the bedroom with their dresser. “Good, right there is fine.” Kat held up a piece of paper with a diagram showing the placement of all their furniture in their new home. Adena had created this guide for Kat’s sanity, since she was unfortunately called out of town on a last-minute photo shoot the day the movers’ were scheduled to work. She was returning to their new home in the late evening, when everything was over and done. Kat wanted the house to look halfway decent for her love’s return, although she knew they’d have to spend the rest of the weekend emptying boxes and setting up the kitchen. But at least the sparse furniture they owned would be in the preferred locations they talked about before.

“Helloooooo!” Kat answered an incoming call with glee. “Hey guys, yes! I’m doing fine and can’t wait to see you around 5....okay, yes. Pizza and wine on me, so please bring with you the chocolate eclairs and red roses I want. Reimburse you later. Great...see ya losers!” Kat disconnected the call and waited for the men to return upstairs with the living room sofa.

- - - - -
A little after eight, Kat heard the front door open and came rushing out of the bedroom to greet her girl, “Babe, you’re home!” Adena had texted her 20 minutes earlier from the Lyft she was riding home.

“Yes, hellooo,” Adena called back. “Wow look at this place, you did very well Kat.” The living room was all set up the way Adena had instructed. She dropped off her satchel on the couch and slipped off her boots, as Kat came from behind and wrapped her arms around her waist.

“Yes, surprise! Welcome home Ms. El-Amin, welcome home.”

Adena turned in Kat’s arms and they kissed lovingly. She scanned the rest of the area, “And where are all our packed boxes and kitchen junk?”

“Oh, don't look in the guest bedroom, it’s a friggin mess. I’m using it for storage at the moment. All the boxes are stacked in there. I wanted for you to come into a clean living space. First impressions are golden,” Kat laughed and then kissed Adena again, moving her hands downward to rub her ass.

“Mmmm, you spoil me. Thank you, Aziz-am.”

“You are welcome. But now, I want you to come with me to our bedroom. I have several more surprises for you.” Kat took Adena by the hand and led her down the hall to the furthest room in the back. There, Adena found their new big bed and beautiful headboard, all set up. The bed was dressed with a new comforter and bedsheets they had received as an early housewarming gift from the Edison’s.

“Ta-Daa! I have it all set up and ready for tonight’s slumber.” Kat released Adena’s hand and laid in a sexy pose on the bed.

“Oh joon, look at how nice the duvet and bedsheets look. And you decorated so nicely with our throw pillows.” Adena ran her palm over the new bed and Kat pulled her down on it, turning and straddling her. She reached and held Adena’s arm down over her head, gazing into her soft eyes for a moment, but Adena’s stomach growled loudly and they both started to giggle.

“Someone is very hungry, tee-hee.”

“Yes, I haven’t eaten since 11 a.m,” Adena disclosed with a smile.

“Well then, let me feed my poor girl. Come, I have another surprise first and then I’ll feed you.” Kat got off the bed and extended her hand out for Adena, pulling her up and walking her towards the master bathroom, opening the door. “Voila! She said, pointing to the tub filled with warm water, floating red rose petals, and lit candles displayed on both ends. “Your soothing bath awaits you, my love.”

“Oh is perfect, Kat. Thank you for all this, baby. I love you so much.” Adena turned her head and kissed Kat’s cheek.

“You are most welcome. Now I want you to strip and get inside the bath. In the meantime, I will go heat you up some Rosalina’s pizza I ordered earlier and come back and feed you. Sound goods?”

“Mmmm, yes it sounds devine.”

“Well, m’lady, then see you in a few minutes. Mwah!”

- - - - -
Kat sat on the edge of the tub feeding Adena goat cheese and vegetable pizza, fresh from the oven. “Yum, Rosalina’s makes the best pizza in East Village. I know what we’ll be eating a lot,” Adena chuckled, as she laid in the soothing warm water with her eyes closed and Kat admired the view from a short distance.

“Yes indeed, Jane and Sutton had never eaten Rosalina’s. Can you believe it?”

Adena opened her eyes and grinned up at Kat, “Oh, really? They’ve been missing out.” Adena watched Kat’s eyes lift back up to hers. “How did they like our place with all the furniture?”

“They loved it. Sutton said she can’t wait until next weekend for our housewarming party. And, Jane already decided where the baby’s crib will go and how to decorate the room. I told her it will be a while before that happens,” Kat laughed and fed Adena another bite of pizza, then bent down and licked some sauce off of her bottom lip. “That’s it, just crust left,” she announced, flicking crumbs off of her fingers and placing the plate on top of the toilet seat.

Adena finished chewing and gave her a devilish look, “Why don’t you take off those sweats and join me in our new bathtub.” She lifted her arm up and swirled the water around a couple of times with her fingers, lifting her hand up and out to let water drip on Kat’s lap, creating a large wet spot on the front of her pants.

“Okay?” Kat watched and felt the luke warm water absorb through to her panties. She slowly lifted her eyes to meet her lover’s and pulled her long sleeve t-shirt over her head, exposing her bare chest to Adena. The room was cool, evident by Kat’s erect nipples.

Adena’s breathing became labored as she sat in awe admiring Kat’s beauty. She never got tired of watching her curly haired goddess undress. “You are sooo beautiful!”

Kat swallowed hard and stood up, pushing down her pants and underwear in one swoop. But she paused and stood in front of Adena, teasing her, making her desire grow bigger.

“Come here, Kat,” Adena summoned and sat up in the large basin of liquid.

“Nuh-uh, you have to convince me.” Kat was using all the willpower she could muster to stay out of Adena’s reach.

Adena furrowed her brow and exhaled quickly, reaching down between her legs with one hand to touch herself, not breaking eye contact with Kat.

“Oh fuck,” Kat gasped and quickly got into the water, sitting across from her fiancée.

- - - - -
An hour later the two lovers were both nude under the covers in bed. Adena was lying on top, pushing Kat into the memory foam topper, both moaning into each other’s mouth as they shared languid kisses. The room was dimly lit by the remnants of ambers burning in the small wood fireplace.

“Do you want me to get it? Adena inquired in a husky voice.

“Oh man...you’re not too tired?”

Aden chuckled, “No, you have me so worked up that I could run a marathon right now.”

Kat grinned and reached up with both hands, pushing all of Adena’s dark hair back off of her face, “It’s all your fault for being so damn sexy and driving me crazy.”

Adena nodded, “Mmhmm, I like when you’re hot and bothered...is quite a sight,” She giggled and Kat pulled her face down for a searing kiss.

Kat nipped Adena’s bottom lip and released it, “Well, if you just wouldn’t go and touch your- -“

“Shhhhh! Don’t move, I’ll be right back Eshgham,” she interrupted.

Kat followed Adena’s every move with her eyes as she stood and walked off to their dresser by the window. She ogled at her naked backside while her fiancée bent over, opening the bottom drawer to pull out something. The artist shielded her front view on purpose, stepping into the item carefully. As she finished, she frantically scoured the inside of the drawer with her hands. “Kat, I can’t find the small bottle.”

Kat pushed up onto both elbows to get a better look, “Oh, just come back here. I guarantee you are NOT going to need that tonight.” Adena slammed the drawer shut and turned quickly around, facing Kat with a funny look on her face. Kat bit her bottom lip and her eyes greedily scanned over Adena’s torso, “Lord no...no, you are definitely not gonna need it.”

Adena walked back to the bed and crawled up to Kat’s feet, bending down to kiss her toes slowly, one by one, then moved up and alternated open mouth kisses between each long leg, progressing further upward to smooth thighs. “Fuuck me!” Kat moaned aloud knowing she was in for a wild night, collapsing back onto the mattress, parting her legs.

Kat felt the mattress shaking and Adena positioned herself on all fours directly over her, reaching down with her right hand to guide the attached appendage between Kat’s legs, until it met its destination. “Oh god...Adena?” Kat groaned and pressed her knees against Adena’s buttocks, encouraging her to proceed. She then grabbed onto the harness secured around Adena’s waist, pulling her up and in, deeper. Adena supported the weight of her upper body on both her elbows, half-resting her stomach and chest on Kat’s. She leaned her face up to Kat’s ear and whispered something in Farsi that her fiancée did not understand, and she began to rhythmically thrust her hips forward, burying her head in Kat’s neck.

After some time, Kat began to take in big labored breaths, like she was sprinting in a race and gasping for oxygen. She signaled Adena to speed up her movements with more rapid tugs at her belt. Adena lifted up her head to face her girl and knew the signs were all present for what was about to happen. Kat’s eyes were squeezed shut, forehead creased, sweat glistening on her brow. “Aziz-am open your eyes. Can you open them,” she questioned. But Kat was so intoxicated, so lost in the euphoria, that she did not respond. Her legs were quivering erratically on either side of Adena, who now wiped the sweat off of Kat’s forehead with a gentle hand, asking again, “Love, look at me.” This time Kat responded, opening up her eyes.

Kat’s pupils were blown and she licked her lips, groaning, “Okay...oh god...okay. I-I’m here.”

Adena slowed her movements and just gyrated her hips, studying her fiancée’s face, enjoying the view. “Mmmm, Asheghetam Kat,” Adena whispered close to her face and kissed up her jaw softly. “You are the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me,” she added in a heavy accent.

Kat swallowed hard and her eyes flooded with tears, “I love you so much, Adena-joon.” She then lifted her head up for a moment to meet Adena’s lips, and they kissed. “Mmmmm, you feel so good. I want it so bad.” Adena smiled and dropped her head to kiss Kat again, then began thrusting her hips forward once more.

Kat felt light-headed and fought to keep her eyes open as long as she could. Eventually succumbing to the great pleasure she was feeling, closing them back up. She began to sigh and moan softly, enjoying the weight and contact of Adena’s body and tingly sensation in her pelvis. As she panted heavily, she could not fight it any longer, and with one big gulp of air, Kat drew her head back over the pillow, exposing her long neck to her lover, finally going over the edge, digging her short nails into Adena’s back.

Adena saw Kat still her movements and her chest became flushed, as tears escaped the sides of her eyes, soaking into the pillow below. A few seconds later she exhaled deeply and Adena slowed her hips, letting Kat fully enjoy the waves of her pleasure, while continuing to caress and hold her.

- - - - -
At 2:19 a.m., Adena twisted her neck up to look at the bright clock radio on her side of the bed. She was playing with some stray curls on the top of Kat’s head, “Oh no, is so late. We should go to sleep, joon.”

“Aww-kayyy,” Kat yawned and answered half asleep, with her head on top of her lover’s stomach and her hand on Adena’s dark pubes.

“But first, we should put on some pajamas before we get chilled. Is supposed to snow tonight and the place feels drafty.”

Kat lifted her head up and wiped some drool off of her cheek and Adena’s belly with her hand. “Ok, I also need to pee.”

After taking care of business and dressing, the lovers were back in bed snuggling together under the new duvet, both satisfied and content as they drifted off to sleep in their new home.

Chapter Text

“Hi Joon, I’m here!” Adena announced as she entered the condo. She hung her keys up on the brass hook by the door and looked down at the small marble table. “Love, did you get today’s correspondence?” she added, looking at the empty space where they always placed their incoming mail.

“Hi sexy, coming! I’m in our office,” Kat hollered back, before stepping out of the small room and trekking over to meet her fiancée in the living room. Adena smiled warmly admiring the tall beauty approaching, wearing round glasses and a Pride rainbow hoodie.

The girls kissed and Adena hung up her coat inside the small closet by the front door. “Mmm, something smells really nice,” she exclaimed walking by the kitchen, then slipped out of her Uggs, carrying them and her purse down the hall to the master bedroom closet. Kat followed close behind.

“Why thank you for the compliment. Wash up and get comfy. I have some chicken thighs and potatoes roasting in the oven for dinner. Then we can watch that Iranian midwife documentary you found last night on Netflix.”

“Okay, but before I change I’m going to slip on my loafers and go get the mail. There should still be some response cards coming in.” Five weeks prior to moving into their newly renovated home, the girls had mailed out wedding invitations to their family and friends. Adena kept track of the RSVP cards on a spreadsheet and knew they were still waiting on responses from a handful of stragglers. The May 8th nuptials were fast approaching and everything was smoothly falling into place, thanks to the full-time Wedding Planner they hired and Adena’s organized nature. Both Jane and Sutton had reiterated to Kat how fortunate she was to have Adena at the helm of this happy event. Kat agreed and was extremely grateful of her fiancée.

“No, no let me love. I’ll go downstairs. I need to go to our basement storage locker, anyways, and get another box of office stuff. I’m getting so close to being all unpacked and organized, you are going to be so proud when you see all I’ve done. You just have to help me figure out where to hang the pictures and our diplomas.” Kat reached over to Adena and gave her a quick kiss and turned around, “Be back in a flash.”

“Okay,” Adena patted her on the back and began unraveling her silk hijab, entering the compact walk-in closet. She changed into flannel pajama pants and a sweatshirt, washed her face, and headed to the kitchen to turn off the buzzing oven timer. Twelve minutes later Kat returned. “Need help with that box?”

“Nah, it’s pretty light.” Kat was holding a medium sized box in both hands as she dropped the mail on top of the entry console and paused at the kitchen’s entry, “There’s the correspondence...just a bunch of junk mail, store fliers, and three envelopes, she pointed over with her nose. Looks like two more RSVP notices for our big day. Some real late replies. But as the saying goes, better late than never.”

“Ooh yay, then with those we are just missing five more responses and we are at 100%. Great. I’ll look at them after dinner,” Adena replied pulling back the tin foil from the glass baking dish. A cloud of steam rose up and out of the pan, engulfing her senses, “Yum, Eshgham. This looks and smells devine. You used that fresh rosemary I just bought, good. Uhm, you never cease to amaze me with your culinary skills,” Adena chuckled and winked at Kat. “And here I thought you couldn’t cook when we started dating.” She took down two ceramic plates from the overhead cabinet and started dishing out the meal, “Come, let’s eat while is still warm.”

Kat gave Adena a cheesy grin as she walked past the kitchen carrying the box down the hall, “Hah! I was keeping my cooking ability as my final secret weapon to conquer your heart...after my charm and good looks, of course,” she yelled. “Be right back.”

- - - - -
After dinner, the women cleared the table and put the leftovers away in the fridge. “We have enough for tomorrow’s lunch, here. Let me do the dishes and you go get the show set up on the flatscreen, Kat. Oh, and do you want some ice cream for dessert?”

Kat scratched her belly, “Ahh...Imma kinda full. Maybe in an hour or so? In the meantime, I’ll just pour myself a glass of rosé for now.” Kat walked over to the wooden cabinet behind their loveseat and bent over to open the bottom door, reaching inside for a new bottle of wine to uncork. She walked back into the kitchen for a glass and bottle opener, groping Adena’s behind as she passed by her.

“Hey...don’t be fresh, “ Adena teased.

“This is the good stuff Richard brought us for the housewarming.” On the way out of the kitchen Kat stopped by the entry table and picked up the larger of the envelopes, “Oh, and this blue envelope postmarked from France was with the RSVP cards.” Kat held up the envelope as Adena briefly glanced over her shoulder at her. She was elbow deep in water and dish soap.

“Oh? Who’s it from?” Adena asked, brows knitted in question. She knew all of her envitees from France had already responded.

“Hmm...let’s see. It is from G. Von Stein who lives on Avenue de Bosquet? I’m probably slaughtering the pronunciation a bit,” Kat giggled and placed the envelope back down, taking the two smaller RSVP envelopes with her and heading back towards the television remote control on the coffee table. She took a sip of her wine and plopped down on the couch, tearing open the sealed flaps on both envelopes.

Adena turned her head and looked towards Kat, in a bit of a shock. She hadn’t heard from Greta in so long that she was now very curious and confused about the letter. “Oh, okay. Um...I’ll read it later.”

Kat looked up at her and paused, then returned her attention to the cards in her hand, “My cousin Maddie replied she’s coming to our wedding after all. She’s been so busy traveling with her job. I’d given up hope on her.” Kat set the card aside and opened the next small envelope. “Oh, and my Mom’s friend from Oregon can’t make it. That’s Mrs. Epstein, Mom’s old cello teacher.”

“Um-hum, so glad,” Adena answered, but Kat could tell she wasn’t really registering what she had even said to her.

“You’re...glad Mom’s teacher isn’t coming? That’s funny, babe.”

“Huh? What?” No, no Kat, I mean...is fine. Glad they replied so we don’t wonder, is all.” Adena dried her hands on the kitchen tea towel and joined Kat on the couch, “Don’t forget on Wednesday we have final fittings for our ceremony attire at Marléna’s Bridal Boutique.”

Kat nodded in acknowledgment and put her arm around her fiancée’s shoulders, starting the show with one click of the remote control.

- - - - -
An hour and a half later Kat stood up with an empty wine glass. “Okay, I’m gonna hop in the shower for a quick one ‘cuz I’m smelly, then come back and dish us out some pistachio ice cream...yeah, pistah...cheee-oh,” she sung out. “We can watch something else to lighten the mood after that. Dee, you know I love your documentaries, but some subjects just depress me.”

Adena chuckled, “Okay, there’s a new episode of ‘The Good Place’ we haven’t watched. See you shortly, smelly.”

Kat laughed and walked out of the room, and Adena stood to get herself some lemonade out of the fridge. On her way back she picked up the letter from Greta off the table and sat back down, ripping it open. As she pulled the paper out and unfolded it, a small pack of flower seeds fell onto her lap.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Adena,

It’s been so long since we’ve communicated, making me feel apprehensive about sending this to you now. However, on the advice and encouragement from a dear work colleague, I must release my true emotions with this handwritten letter, setting us both finally free from my conscience and heart. You once said inked correspondence brightens your day, so hope the feel of this parchment paper in your hands brings you some kind of joy, even though the subject is rather intense. But as I recall, you and I can be very intense people sometimes.

Although I had agreed and said I was alright being just friends, seeing you leave Paris two years ago was very heartbreaking and devastating for me. At first I didn’t understand my pain, as I had honestly never felt such passion for a person before I met you. Prior to that, relationships were something I only did to pass the time. I toiled with the idea of going after you for many weeks after your departure, knowing it was just futile, driving myself basically insane. I became a shell of a person, just existing in this world, day-by-day, walking and working amongst the other devoid souls, trying to find some life meaning and happiness again. The only thing that stopped me from boarding a plane to New York City was knowing that your heart wasn’t mine, that it belonged to another. That it could never be mine. So I dealt with it the only way I knew, drowning in work and in my music. Days were long and dreary, but nights...nights seemed never ending and agonizing.

If you are wondering, the band is doing fine. Dame IV still plays at different locations every Friday and Saturday evenings. This year we have also been invited to play at several music festivals throughout France, making us popular with the younger femmes. We are grateful to be able to continue playing at the two lesbian bars in town on occasional weekends. I still see much of the gang you were hanging out with in Paris at these bars. And, like a desert mirage, I often hallucinate you sitting there at the same table with this group of people, particularly after I’ve had a couple of alcoholic beverages and the pub’s cigarette smoke gets thick, blurring my vision. Funny, the things we artists conjure up in our active imaginations, right? Sometimes these optical illusions make me very melancholy. But luckily the others in the band quickly notice my disposition and break into an upbeat song, snapping me out of my delirium. I am thankful for my band mates always seeing me home safely after I’ve drowned my sorrows at yet another bar.

A couple of weeks ago your older friend Valeree cornered me by the bathrooms during the band’s break. She asked if I had heard that you were about to get married in New York, said you were going to marry the young director from Scarlet Magazine. Well, one can imagine the magnitude of that news on me. I felt shocked but also elated, because I immediately imagined your big smile and happiness. Please understand, knowing you and Kat were able to reconcile made me very happy for you Adena. Although I cannot lie, it also made me heavy-hearted and envious. Sad because I had always held on to some hope that you’d return one day to Paris, still single, looking for me in a smokey bar, Belle fille. Like a scene from one of those old romantic movies from the 1950’s you made us watch in your small Paris pad, I imaged it so.

I must share that my circumstances have changed a bit, too. Six months ago I finally stopped going to ‘Lettres D’amour Bistro’ every Sunday morning for coffee and music writing. Instead I began to visit Parc Monceau for a change of scenery, hopeful for some inspiration from the surrounding statues of writers and musicians. There I met a young horticulturalist named Claudia from Portugal who liked to read by the bridge over the stream, next to where I always ate my lunch. We shared a shy smile or two for a couple of weeks and eventually she was the brave one, valiant enough to make conversation with me one sunny afternoon. She soon became very interested in my music and I in her plants, and we have been officially dating for three months now. We shared stories of travel, heartaches, favorite musicians, and regretful tattoos, and we agreed that snails were better left alive in a garden than served cooked on a plate in a restaurant. Claudia is kind and has deep brown eyes, and I am growing very fond of her. I’m cautiously learning to let her into my heart and soul. I told her a good Persian friend of mine once said, “A higher being must place special people in our lives at certain times, for a certain purpose,” and she smiled and nodded in agreement, said it was a beautiful way to think about life. That night she tenderly told me I made her days so much brighter and warmed her heart. And, at that moment, I knew my life was going to be okay again, that Claudia was “special people” too.

I don’t apologize for writing this letter, just for not doing it sooner. I feel so much stronger now that I’ve written my thoughts down and, please, you do not have to respond. I must add that I do still miss you and dream of you often. But, today I take a deep breath and smile knowing you once gave me four very special months in the City of Lights, made me stronger and gave me purpose.

Included with this letter is a small packet of seeds for you to plant in your garden in the forthcoming springtime. Claudia helped me pick it out knowing it was for a special couple. It is a mixture of four kinds of daisies which are symbols of transformations, representing harmony, balance, and new beginnings. Everything I wish you have for a happy and long union with the love of your life, Adena. May you both truly have a happy marriage and union. Thank you again for being in my life at that certain, special time.

Jamais au revoir,

Greta
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Kat returned in clean pajamas and fluffy slippers, feeling refreshed from her shower. She made a beeline for the freezer and pulled out a small tub, “Hey hot stuff, do you still want that ice cream?”

Adena sat quietly staring at her hands, still holding the seed packet. “Uhm? Yes...okay...yes,” she replied in a hushed tone.

Kat dished out a generous bowl of the creamy dessert and returned to the couch, spoon in hand and ready to share. Sitting down and snuggling up against her girl’s shoulder, she glanced over and noticed the seeds in Adena’s hand. “Who sent those?” She inquired, pointing down with her spoon.

Adena turned her head and gave her a small smile, “Remember how I told you I was seeing someone in Paris, while you saw Tia here?”

Kat twirled the small spoon in the bowl and scooped up some ice cream, “Uh-huh.” She lifted her hand up and fed Adena. “Is that from her...G Von...Von?” She stretched her neck forward to look at the name on the envelope now resting in Adena’s lap.

Before answering, Adena swallowed and licked ice cream from her lips. “Yes, it’s from Greta. She bumped into a mutual friend, so she wrote me a letter and enclosed these as a...a sorta wedding gift, I guess?” Adena held up the seeds then picked up the envelope, folding the letter back up, stuffing it and the seeds inside. She lightly tossed the envelope forward onto the coffee table.

Kat seemed unfazed by the news, taking in a big spoonful of the frozen treat herself. “Mmmm, I love this brand of pistachio ice cream. Let’s always get it.”

Adena nodded and opened her mouth up again to receive another spoonful from Kat. She silently enjoyed it but Kat noticed something was off. “Uh, do you want to talk about the letter from Greta some more?” Kat waiting a minute then placed the bowl down on the table in front of them, turning her body towards Adena’s. “Babe, what’s wrong?”

Adena turned and faced Kat, folding one leg underneath her thigh, and shook her head, “Nothing, it...it just took me by surprise, is all. I hadn’t thought about Greta in a while. And her letter now, well...is a surprise.”

“Okay, well it’s fine,” Kat reassured, taking Adena’s hands into hers.

“Do you want to read it?” Adena sheepishly asked, looking down at their intertwined fingers.

Kat shrugged her shoulders, “Not really, unless you need me to.” There was a pause in the conversation, and Kat added, “You can just give me the Reader’s Digest version.” Adena raised her eyes up at her and furrowed her brows, “Er...give me a synopsis of what it says. She wrote it to you and it’s really for your eyes only, I’m guessing. And she- -“

“She heard we are getting married and wanted to wish us well, plant these seeds and enjoy the flowers together,” Adena abruptly interrupted.

“Oh...Ohh-kay, that’s nice- -“

“...and she wanted me to know how much I hurt her when I left Paris and said she’s okay now,” Adena finished the sentence by briefly looking Kat straight in the eyes then hanging her head downward.”

Kat thought for a moment, then asked, “Was she mean about it?”

“No...no she was fine. She said she just needed to write this to me...to move on.”

Kat gently lifted Adena’s chin with her hand, causing her to look back up at her, “Sweatheart, this is good. Closure is good for her. It’s good for you too, no? Maybe you didn’t even know you needed it, but accept it for what it is.” Kat moved her hand over and cupped Adena’s cheek, “That’s what my shrink parents would tell you.”

Adena chuckled and kissed Kat’s hand, slowly nodding, “Yes, is good. I was just shocked to see this letter now. But is all good.” Adena caressed Kat’s cheek back with a soft hand, then leaned forward and embraced her. “Thank you, thank you for being so understanding and supportive. I love you so much, Aziz-am. You are such a beautiful human.”

“But of course, I’ll always be here for you baby. Asheghetam, Adena-joon.” Kat tightened their hug then released and pulled back, “And, come springtime we will plant the seeds together in those big plant boxes on our deck. Yes?”

Adena nodded happily, “For sure.”

Kat reached over to get the half-eaten bowl of ice cream, but Adena had other plans. She pushed her arm away and grabbed the hem of her pajama top, pulling it up and over Kat’s head, throwing it over the couch onto the floor, and pushing Kat firmly onto her back.

“Hey...the pistachio!” Kat laughed loudly, while Adena climbed on top of her and pinned her down.

“Oh shush, it can wait.”

Chapter Text

Kat fluttered her weary eyes open to the darkened room. Groggy, but happy to be in a cozy bed, she rubbed her face and the sleep away with both hands, yawning and focusing her gaze on the flawless bare skin directly in front of her. She lightly placed her hand on a hip and tangled her leg with her lover’s, leaning her face forward, closing the gap between them, ghosting her chafed lips up the path of the curved spine to the nape of the neck covered by dark messy locks.

“Mmmm...good morning wife,” a breathy voice acknowledged Kat’s presence as a soft hand reached up and back to pat the top of Kat’s tangled curls.

“Good morning Mrs. El-Amin-Edison,” Kat muttered, clearing hair away from Adena’s neck with her fingertips and latching her lips onto the pulsating vein in her wife’s neck. She gently began to nip and suck at the warm skin like she was feasting on a tasty fruit.

Adena giggled and whined, “Ssstop...you’re going to give me a hickey. How are we going to explain that to the concierge in the lobby later today?”

“Hmmm, I’ll just tell him to mind his own damn business...or that we’re newlyweds and he’ll understand.”

Adena denied her advances, turning over and facing Kat in the dark. She smiled and used her free hand to push back stray curls up and away from her wife’s almond shaped eyes, “And how did you sleep, my wife?”

Kat pressed foreheads and noses together and let out a soft laugh, “Like I’m the luckiest woman in the world next to you, beautiful.”

Adena cupped Kat’s chiseled jaw, pulling her closer so their lips could meet for a hungry kiss, “Mmmmm...me too, gorgeous woman of mine.”

A few moments later Kat tipped her head back to separate their lips, “Hey, I gotta pee really, really bad. Hold that thought, baby.” She swiftly kissed Adena’s dimpled chin and rolled out of bed, heading to the luxurious bathroom on the other side of the room. Adena lifted her head up and smiled, watching a nude Kat walk away and briefly disappear into a doorway.

Moments later, the toilet flushed and Kat washed her hands and dried them on the white towel monogrammed with a cursive ‘qp’ sitting on the vanity. The fancy soap made the enclosed space smell of vanilla as Kat took a moment to examine her reflection in the bevelled gold framed mirror, grinning ear to ear as she reminisced about the previous day’s events...............

It was a sunny Saturday morning and Kat woke up extra-early in her old loft in Chelsea, alone in her queen sized bed dearly missing her bedmate. She had to take a moment to find her bearings, as she hadn’t been in this space in what seemed to be an eternity, especially all alone. But the fiancées had jointly decided to follow tradition and not see each other the day before their nuptials, making it more exciting to reconnect later. Adena had stayed in their East Village condo and was having her Maman, sister, and various relatives come over the next morning to help her dress for the wedding.

Kat’s phone alarm was telling her she needed to get up and shower, but first she padded to the kitchen area and fixed herself some fresh coffee and threw a couple of pieces of sourdough bread into her trusty toaster oven. “Awww-waah,” she yawned loudly and scratched at her butt over her cotton pajama pants, pouring a generous amount of almond milk into her piping hot cup of joe. She was very grateful for the few new grocery items that magically appeared in her now sparse old kitchen. She shook her head and sighed, “Aww, Adena always so kind and organized, looking after her girl and planning ahead. Even at our most anxious times, babe. You are a keeper.” As she placed her large mug down, and the quart of milk back into the fridge, she saw a small pink envelope with a hand drawn heart on the front, leaning against the jar of homemade fig jam. ‘Kat’ was written inside the heart in Farsi, and the envelope had been sealed shut with a lipstick kiss on the back, in her fiancée’s favorite shade.

Kat grabbed the letter and kicked closed the refrigerator, leaning up against the kitchen counter to tear open the envelope and read the note inside: ‘My love, my soulmate. I cannot wait to meet you at the altar later today and become Mrs. El-Amin-Edison. Asheghetam, Kat-joon.” A quivering smile quickly covered Kat’s face and two warm tears rolled down her cheeks. The feeling was mutual, she too couldn’t wait to become Adena’s wife, her forever.

- - - - -
A light knocking snapped Kat out of her daydream. She quickly shut off the faucet she had inadvertently left running, “Yes, come in, babe...I’m done.”

“Hello there...I just realized I too have to pee badly,” Adena announced, opening the door and walking into the bathroom to sit on the commode.

Kat chuckled and glanced over at Adena, “You’re so cute even when your hair is sticking straight up and you’re sitting on the potty.” Adena looked up and winked playfully at her. “I’ll meet you in bed shortly, babe.” Kat turned around and exited the bathroom.

“Felan.”

Once back together in bed, the two women embraced and indulged in each other’s warmth again. Kat rolled onto her back pulling Adena with her, “I’m never going to let you go nor move from this position, just so you know. They’ll eventually find us and conclude we died in each other’s arms from love-overdose.”

“Mmhmm...I see. Is a wonderful way to go,” Adena giggled into Kat’s hair and caressed her shoulders. “I would not fight it if this was our fate.”

Kat’s hands wondered up-and-down her wife’s smooth back and bottom. Her touch eliciting goosebumps along their path. Adena sighed in contentment, “Ohhh...that feels sooo good.” Kat kissed her and switched to just raking her short nails gently in circular patterns on her lower back and began humming a quiet tune in Adena’s ear. A few minutes later, she felt Adena go completely limp on top of her, letting out a little snore into her neck.

Kat let out her own content sigh and tried not to move too much, basking in the moment at hand. The feel of her love’s weight and warm rhythmic breath against her skin, ‘This must be what Heaven feels like,’ Kat thought. Closing her eyes, she continued with her recollection of the busy events from the previous 24 hours...............

After breakfast and a long soothing shower, Kat stepped out of her loft bathroom smelling like coconut oil and body wash. She had also applied most of her makeup for the day ahead. She climbed the squeaky wooden stairs up to her closet and dropped the bath towel onto the floor where she stood, donning on her new sexy laced ivory lingerie she got a few weeks prior, as a bridal shower present from Jane and Sutton. She recalled the girls taking bets on how quickly the garments would come off once Adena laid her eyes on them, and Kat laughed aloud looking into her full-length mirror. She knew she was looking pretty irresistible in the see-through lace panties and push up bra, and that her new wife would surely thank the girls later for it. She also had a hunch that Adena had received similar gift items from her two sneaky friends, but she had to wait until her wedding night to confirm her suspicions.

A one-of-a-kind ivory pantsuit hung on a hanger next to the mirror and Kat pulled off the plastic garment bag protecting it, pausing to admire its craftsmanship. Sutton had helped her design it with assistance from one of the best seamstresses in Manhattan. The person was an incredible artist who could create superb outfits with experienced hands, and had a cunning eye for fashion. They owed Sutton a favor or two and gave Kat a great discount to make the fabulous wrap-front tuxedo jumpsuit. It was sleeveless but came with a matching blazer Kat could slip out of once inside the reception hall at the theater. The long, wide-leg pants had a satin stripe running down each leg, and the jacket sleeves had delicate embroidery with ‘Adena and Kat’ inconspicuously added in Farsi in the middle of the right arm. This was an Easter egg she had created for Adena to eventually find during the event. She knew the gesture would just melt her new wife’s heart.

Kat slipped on her wedding attire and went back downstairs to do her hair and lipstick. Just then, there was a knock on the apartment door and Susan let herself in. “Oh my dear lord, baby you look so beautiful,” the proud middle-aged woman cried out and bear hugged her daughter, wiping tears away.

“Thank you, mommy. I’m so happy you love it.” Kat held her mother close and tried not to start bawling to save her makeup. “Thank you for coming over to help me with my hair and all.” Kat stepped back and looked her mom up and down, “You also look gorge...the most beautiful mother-of-the-bride I’ve ever seen! Jade is your color, Mama. It brings out your eyes.”

“Thank you dear, your Dad told me the same exact thing earlier. By the way, he just dropped me off and went on to the hotel to hang out with your Grammy and all his family. Said he couldn’t handle seeing you yet...that he might need a scotch first,” Susan laughed inwardly.

“Awww, Dad can be so sentimental sometimes. I love you both so much!”

Kat and Susan hugged some more then headed into Kat’s bathroom to do her hair. Kat wanted to wear her naturally curly hair mostly down, because that was Adena’s favorite, with a couple of vintage ornamental barrettes from her great-grandmother added to the side where her hair parted. “There you go baby, those look so lovely on you and are so special. Adena is going to absolutely melt when she sees you.”

“Yes Mom, those are my ‘something old’ for my ensamble. My tuxedo jumpsuit is my something new...these diamond-pearl earrings Dad gave you, and you lent me, are my something borrowed...and this bracelet Adena gave me is my something blue.” Kat held up her arm to show her Mom. “I’ve got it all covered.”

Susan laughed, “Yes, yes you do!”

Kat finished her lip liner and lipstick, then slipped on her ivory t-strap bowtie pumps to complete her look. She walked over to her bedside and collected her blazer and clutch purse, then picked up her phone to check the time. “Okay, right on schedule. Let’s go downstairs because Kimmy, Jane, Sutton, et al will be here shortly in the limo to pick us up for the hall.” She glanced over to Susan who was still in awe staring, “Oh...but first let’s take a selfie, Mama. I want to remember this moment with you.”

Kat dropped her purse back on top of the bed and put on her embroidered jacket, moving over to her mom’s side to snap a few photos together. She also took a few of Susan alone and vice-versa. “You know Kat, there are many, many monumental moments in a mother’s life involving her children. But this one...this one is my new favorite. You look so lovely, my princess. I am so very happy and proud of the woman you have become. And I am so incredibly fortunate to officially gain a second daughter today.”

- - - - -
Adena started choking on her own saliva and woke up in a panic, “Hey babe, it’s okay...breathe, I got you.” Kat rolled Adena on her side and sat her up. “There you go,” Kat said stroking her face lovingly while Adena cleared her windpipe.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I...I was dreaming we were swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and you went diving deep beneath me. I followed you and you began to talk to me underwater, like normal, like we are doing now,” Adena gestured with her hands back and forth. “So when I tried to answer you, I swallowed a bunch of salt water and started choking. You kept saying, ‘It’s okay, I can still hear you,’ and I woke up,” Adena explained, lying back down with her head on Kat’s shoulder.

“Aww babe, you are nervous about Miami Beach because you read that article to me about that strong undertow they have. Don’t worry so much, we don’t have to go snorkeling off the coast if it makes you anxious. Just lying on the warm sand and dipping our ankles in the sea will be enough for us to be content during our honeymoon. And...I get to see you in that new black string bikini,” Kat slid her hand under the sheets and enthusiastically waggled her eyebrows.

Adena giggled, “It’s not that, I’ve snorkeled before in both the Maltese Islands and Cape Town. I’m not afraid of the water or currents...Hmm, it was just a dumb dream and my saliva. Is okay now, Kat.” She took a big cleansing breath while her wife stroked her arm and listened to her patiently, squinting up at Kat, “How long was I out and what time is it?”

“Uhm, like an hour or so, and the alarm clock says it’s 2:09 in the morning.”

Adena ran her fingers through her untidy hair, then wrapped her arm around Kat’s middle, “Did you get some sleep, too?”

“No, actually I did not. But I entertained myself just relishing in our closeness.” Adena looked up towards her girl and they smiled at each other. Kat leaned forward and kissed the crown of her head a few times, “I was also having fun remembering everything we did yesterday. How amazing it all was, and how incredibly gorgeous my artist-bride looked...............

The pink stretch limo arrived in front of the Juvenescence Theater where the reception was going to take place, immediately following the outdoor ceremony in the adjacent shady park. Kat and her all female court, along with her mom, piled out of the cushioned back seats. Jane, Sutton, and Kimberly were all dressed in off-the-shoulder dusty blue long dresses. Oliver’s Carly, Kat’s teenage twin cousins, and Adena’s 12 year-old goddaughter were flower girls, dressed in dusty rose princess gowns.

As the group headed inside the historical building, Kat glanced over her left shoulder and observed a sea of white folding chairs. They were being placed around the large domed ornamental park gazebo by Anika, the wedding planner, and her staff. There was also a short table covered by an elaborate cloth and a wood bench set up in front of the structure’s steps. Adena had explained that this table was the sofreyé aghd, perhaps the most important element of a Persian wedding, a table which contained several highly symbolic items, among other things. She and her Maman spent several months before the wedding gathering elements for the table, objects that were near and dear to the hearts of both brides, and symbolic to their union.

Once inside, staff quickly rushed Kat to an empty dressing room to hide in, until it was time for her to walk outside and down to the gazebo with her parents. She was hoping to catch some glimpse of her bride in the hallway, but knew Adena was also being sequestered in a different dressing room. Approximately ten minutes later, Jane and Sutton walked into Kat’s room to check in on her and her nerves.

“Hey-yo! We’ve come to keep you company. So how are you holding up kid?” Sutton asked, rubbing circles on Kat’s back.

“I’m a nervous wreck, but I’m trying not to sweat through my blazer sleeves. Do I have sweaty pits, guys?” Kat lifted her arms up and both of her friends shook their heads no.

“Ohhh my god, Kat! We went to see Adena and she looks like a real life princess!” Jane gasped, eyes wide.

Sutton added, “Yes, you are going to FAINT...FAINT when you see her walking down the aisle. She is absolutely stunning in her gown and delicate veil. That beaded hijab her mother brought from Iran is glorious.” Sutton tossed a chef’s kiss dramatically from her lips into the air and the three friends giggled like schoolgirls.

“Aww, I can’t wait to see her again and hold her guys,” Kat replied with watery eyes. “Spending last night and this morning without her has been really hard. Whose idea was this anyways?” Kat gave out a small chuckle and all three girls held hands in a circle.

“It’s tradition, babe. Plus, they say it’s bad luck to see each other before the ceremony.”

“Yeah, Tiny Jane is correct. Plus you can handle being away from each other for 12 hours. You’re not going to die or anything.” Kat hadn’t seen her fiancée since 10 o’clock the previous night, when they held each other tight under the dim streetlight, outside their favorite restaurant. They had just had their rehearsal dinner with all of the wedding party and family. As the Uber pulled away from the curb with Adena and her loved ones in tow, Kat couldn’t help feel a great tug to her heartstrings.

“You sure about that, Sutton? I’ve decided I don’t like being without her by my side if I can help it...so I almost died of solitude last night. I’ve forgotten how cold and lonely my old loft can be.”

“Think of the payoff you’ll soon have. And, oh man, forgot to mention we really like Adena’s friend Shireen and little sister Zareen. Wow, Persian women are so damn gorgeous! The eyelashes...the hypnotic eyes...the accents. Yep, gorge!”

Kat let out a hearty laugh, “Yes, they sure are, Sutton. You know, Shireen came all the way from Dubai with her young daughter, Veena, to be in Adena’s court. She’s been best friends with Adena since they were six, and is a model and wealthy business owner there. Veena is so cute and Adena’s godchild. And Zareen, or as I like to call her Adena’s mini-me, flew here with Maman from Morocco. I’m so happy Adena has them all for support.

A soft rapping at the door signaled the ceremony was about to begin. Kat’s parents came inside and all five members hugged dearly. Jane and Sutton bid farewell and headed out. Kat’s dad was overwhelmed with emotions and was thankful his wife packed a handkerchief in his tuxedo pocket. Kat hugged and kissed her parents and thanked them for all of their love and sacrifices getting her to this point in her life, “I know I don’t say this enough guys, but I’m truly blessed and grateful for all you do for me...and now for Adena, the love of my life.”

The three Edison’s were ushered out of the cramped room by Anika and taken outside to the side of the park. They stood under the flower covered archway leading down the grassy pathway to the gazebo, all three with arms interlocked, waiting for the harpist to begin playing her tune.

- - - - -
Kat hustled out of the steamed bathroom wrapped in a thick white robe and hair in a high bun, “Just a minute!” She yelled as she reached for the doorknob. Room service delivered a delicious breakfast of vegetable omelettes, warm English muffins, fresh mixed fruit and whipped cream, coffee, and jam. “Right there is fine, thank you so much,” Kat pointed and the server set up the plates and beverages on the oval table by the window, overlooking Central Park. He asked if there was anything else needed, and she signed and handed him the leather billfold, “Nope, this looks fantastic. Thank you so much.” The waiter turned around and exited the premises.

“Hey babe, everything is here and ready,” Kat called out.

“Coming!” Adena strolled out of the bathroom blotting her dripping wet hair with a towel, approaching the meal. She too was wearing a monogrammed robe and terry cloth slippers provided by the fancy establishment. “Oooh...this is a really nice spread. I’m so famished I could eat it all by myself.”

“Well then...pull up a seat and let’s dig in,” Kat patted the empty seat cushion. Adena draped the moist towel over the back of her chair, sitting adjacent to Kat, and began to eat her eggs and fruit. Kat reached over and spread a generous amount of peach jam on an English muffin, then placed half on Adena’s plate, biting into the other portion. “Mmm, so good,” Kat exclaimed.

Adena gave Kat a warm smile then leaned forward and they lovingly kissed. “Mhmm,” she hummed, “I see my baby is also starving after our long bath.”

Kat rapidly nodded, admiring the woman’s sultry eyes and long dark lashes. She lifted her hand and offered Adena some of her own bread, watching as her wife contently took a bite and slowly chewed. When she finished, Kat dipped her little finger into the jam and fed it to her bride, reminding her of the honey exchange part of their wedding ceremony which symbolized they’d feed each other sweetness and sustenance throughout their lives together. Adena opened her mouth and sensually used her tongue and lips to take the sweetness from Kat’s finger before releasing it, sending shivers down Kat’s spine.

“My...ohhh my. You are so frickin’ sexy Adena,” Kat said, shaking her head and swallowing hard.

Adena smirked and slowly licked the excess sugar off her lips. She kicked off her right slipper and rubbed her foot up Kat’s leg under the table, raising a brow, “If I wasn’t so hungry I’d take that robe right off of you right now.” She dropped her eyes down to Kat’s lap and back up again, letting out a slow breath.

Kat felt her body temperature instantly rise and gave back a wink as a response, “Well then, let’s get you fed and satisfied here, then you can do whatever you want with my robe, and we’ll move over...there.” Kat side-glanced over to their unmade bed and back at Adena, biting her bottom lip in the process.

The two paused then subtly chuckled. Adena poured them both generous cups of coffee and added a splash of almond milk from the ceramic creamer. She handed one over to her wife and skimmed her fingers tips up Kat’s hand as she took the cup and saucer, sending yet another wave of shivers up Kat’s spine. Kat giggled nervously and they both continued drinking and eating in silence, stealing playful glances at each other often. Adena’s hair was still moist and her robe opened up just enough so her taller spouse could indulge in a bit of her cleavage.

Half hour later they both finished eating. Kat wiped her mouth on a linen serviette, “Yum, that was really good. We’ll get staff to clear these dishes later. Imma gonna get some socks cuz my feet are now getting cold.” Kat twisted off the chair and stood up, but was immediately stopped in place by her wife’s firm grasp to her forearm.

Adena raised her dark eyes playfully slow, up to meet Kat’s. She had nothing but fire and desire in her gaze and Kat felt herself getting very damp. “Is not necessary, I will warm your feet,” Adena answered in a breathy tone.

The petite woman stood up and untied her robe, revealing herself to hungry eyes, taking Kat’s hand and pressing it up against her dark curls below the navel. Kat gulped, reciprocated by pushing Adena’s robe completely off her shoulders with her free hand, letting it fall onto the floor. Adena quickly relieved Kat of her garment too, and Kat’s breath became labored and pulse quickened in anticipation of what was coming. Adena closed the gap between them, putting her lips upon her spouse’s throat, pushing Kat slowly backwards towards the round hotel bed, until they both landed on the satin sheets with loud gasps.

Kat groaned as Adena pinned her down and uncontrollably feasted on her neck, then chest. Their vigorous movements kicked the duvet and top sheet off the end of the bed, leaving their bare bodies completely exposed. Kat looked up helplessly towards the ceiling and saw their reflection on the large crystal teardrops of the chandelier, directly above their bed. It was a kaleidoscope display of their entangled naked torsos. She quickly became lost in the sensation of Adena rhythmically grinding bodies together and she surrendered, gently gripped Adena’s head with one hand, fisting the bottom sheet with the other. As her wife kissed and dragged herself further down, Kat let out uncontrollable moans and groans into the extravagant room. At one point she became impatient again, but Adena was not here to play, denying her twice when Kat tried to flip them over.

“Ohhh...Ah-Adena...baby,” Kat cried out as her wife showed no mercy between her thighs.

Within moments, Kat began to feel the familiar tingling and build up of pleasure in her groin and tried to get her wife to slow down her ministrations, failing miserably to convey her message. “Ahh...Ah-Dee,” she couldn’t quite get the words to spill out of her gaping mouth, giving in to the pleasure and tilting her head back into her pillow, instead.

As she closed her eyes and arched her back, Kat tried to make one more attempt to slow down the situation. But, at that moment, Adena let out a loud satisfying moan, creating vibrations against Kat’s slick middle. It was as much as Kat could handle in the fog of desire, ultimately being pushed to that point of no return. At a quarter to eleven, on those expensive silk sheets, Kat once again climaxed hard.

- - - - -
The early afternoon sunlight peaked through the sheer curtains flanking the bed. The girls had fallen asleep from exhaustion after their hearty brunch and tantalizing extracurricular activities. Kat was lying on her stomach and Adena was splayed diagonally on the bed, partially lying on top of Kat’s back. Her small hand was displayed next to Kat’s face and they both peacefully slept. They had managed earlier to pull the fluffy duvet back up from the floor and over their waists. Faint traffic noise from bellow snuck into the room through the thick double-pained windows.

Kat awoke and smiled into her pillow when she realized her wife was resting her head between her shoulder blades, twitching and faintly talking in her sleep. It was a garbled conversation of mostly Farsi words, but Kat was able to make out a few...like her own name followed by, “You’re so beautiful Zan.” Kat laid frozen as Adena squirmed above and breathed irregularly. She extended her lips out and brushed butterfly kisses on Adena’s fingertips, being careful not to rouse her. As the artist pressed against her, Kat closed her eyes to visions of her gorgeous bride at the park...............

Once escorted to the top of the gazebo by her parents, Kat stood alone, proud and anxious, awaiting for her bride to appear at the end of the grassy path. She kept her hands tightly clasped together to keep from fidgeting and shifted her weight back and forth on her feet, like her mother had suggested to keep from fainting. Jane and Sutton had also made her eat a banana for energy, and Kat appreciated her friends even more on this eventful day.

All of their closest family and friends were present to observe and support this wonderful union, and Kat grinned ear-to-ear as she made eye contact with various members of the crowd. Jacqueline caught her eye and gave her a reassuring nod and small wink, and Oliver mouthed, ‘You got this,’ to her. Her Maid of Honor and Bride’s Maids stood nearby, also anxiously waiting for Adena’s arrival, sharing comforting looks and smiles with nervous Kat.

Kat’s heart beat like a loud drum inside her chest, and she was certain the family members sitting in the two front rows could also hear it. The harpist kept playing her cascading melody and four young flower girls marched down the aisle, dropping flower petals along their path. Then came Shireen, the beautiful tall, slender Persian woman. Maman El-Amin appeared next, escorted down the aisle by her handsome nephew. Finally, Zareen appeared under the flowery trellis holding her Maid of Honor bouquet. One-by-one they all walked forward and approached the gazebo. Kat stepped down briefly to hug her soon to be mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and everyone stood on the opposite side of Kat, except for Maman who turned around and sat down in the front row across from the Edisons.

The harpist stopped and a sole violinist appeared from the furthest edge of the roped-off park area. He began to play a familiar tune, the one that had played that faithful night by the river’s edge, when Adena first told Kat to let go and just be in the moment, the night everything changed for Kat. Despite all the emotional and frustrating times during their complex relationship, this gentle melody represented everything for both women.

Kat’s eyes were drawn back to the center of the area where Adena appeared by herself, holding a simple bouquet of yellow tulips with baby’s breath. “Aww, she’s precious,” Kat heard Sutton loud-whisper to Jane and Kimberly, as the audience let out quiet gasps. At that moment Kat felt like she was sucker-punched, every last ounce of oxygen had left her lungs and she felt like she couldn’t breathe.

Adena and Kat locked eyes immediately, and tears swam in Kat’s eyes, blurring her vision for a brief moment until she released them to race down her cheeks. Kimmy stepped forward and handed the bride a handkerchief, and Kat blotted her tears away. It was a surreal scene and Kat could not feel her feet touching the earth, consumed by the moment. She didn’t quite understand how she was still standing as her bride approached the metal structure to join her.

Adena wore a long, sleeveless ivory gown with a cobalt blue jeweled hijab from the old country. Attached to the base of the ceremonial headdress, a flowing embroidered veil draped over her shoulders and down past her derrière. It was the first time Kat had laid eyes on the fabulous gown, and Adena honestly looked like a princess from one of Kat’s favorite childhood books.

The Persian bride reached the bottom step of the gazebo and Kat reached out and took her trembling hand to help her up. They stood facing each other in front of the officiating official, sharing warm, reassuring smiles. Kat leaned in close to Adena’s ear and whispered, “Wow...just wow. You are absolutely beautiful, baby. Pinch me cuz I must be dreaming.”

“Adena grinned and squeezed Kat’s hands, “You are so beautiful too, Aziz-am. The girl of my dreams.”

After the exchange of rings, the rest of the ceremony was a blur to Kat, now. Luckily, there was a videographer present to capture every moment of the day. The video would also include each of the brides getting ready, sending special messages to the families and to each other. Extra copies were being made for the parents, too. The wives were looking forward to watching the recording once they returned from their honeymoon, when life settled down.

The reception which immediately followed, or Mehmoonee as Adena referred to it, was tiring but a lot of fun. There were many folks to hug, thank, and cry tears of joy with. The food and venue was perfect for an artist and social media guru. Pictures of the wives from childhood through present-time flashed on continuous loop on a blank wall, while everyone ate from the expansive buffet offering Middle Eastern and New England types of food. The DJ played Kat and Adena’s playlist all night long, and the dance floor was never empty, with the brides showing off their dance moves to the energetic crowd. Kat especially enjoyed dancing to middle eastern songs and watching her bride’s mesmerizing moves.

Fulfilling her own promise to herself, Kat did not over-drink. She stuck to two glasses of champagne and only one shot of tequila with her gal-pals. The rest of the night she consumed only water to keep hydrated. She wanted to be all there for her bride and avoid ending up sick, like she did after her bachelorette party a week prior.

The Maid of Honors gave separate touching speeches, followed by family and friends who also took turns at the mic. Maman gave a short touching speech in Farsi, with Zareen serving as translator. She spoke in a shaky soft voice of how proud she was of her oldest child, of how much she wished her husband had been there to witness the beautiful union with Katherine, and of how much she’s looking forward to a naveh, a grandchild, some day. The Edison’s also gave moving speeches and welcomed all the El-Amin’s to their family. Afterwards, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.

The three-tier frosted wedding cake was cut and revealed rainbow layers, representing the importance of gay pride to the brides. They carefully fed each other the dessert, then locked arms and drank cider in champagne goblets labeled, ‘Bride and Bride,’ finishing up with a firm kiss to the crowd’s cheers.

As the event wined down, Kat and Adena slowed danced all alone on the square parquette dance floor to Wicked Game, their secretly favorite lovemaking song. They held each other and gently pressed their foreheads together, stealing innocent kisses and swaying to the sensual tune.

“Hey?” Kat whispered into Adena’s lips, “Do you want to get out of here, soon?”

Adena stroked Kat’s neck lovingly, “Uh-hum, let’s go to our hotel room. I want to be alone with you, baby.”

Kat let out a breathy laugh and pecked Adena’s lips one more time, “Well okay, Mrs. El-Amin-Edison, let’s go do that.” The song came to an end and Kat took her wife’s hand pulling her towards the DJ’s microphone, announcing they’d be leaving and thanked everyone again for their support and celebration of their matrimony. Adena gave the same impromptu speech in Farsi, then the two strolled over to hug their parents and family goodbye.

As the crowd gathered outdoors and threw birdseed at their heads, Kat stopped and pivoted before entering the limousine and yelled back, “Thank you all! We love you so much, and we’ll see you in a few weeks!”

“We love you bitches! Go make some beautiful babies,” a very drunk Sutton yelled back and the crowd broke out in roaring laughter.

- - - - -
Adena stirred and let out a whimper, waking up. Kat let out a soft laugh and shifted her legs below, letting her know she too was awake.

“Mmmm...you are my favorite after breakfast snack,” Adena teased with a heavy accent, sliding the palm of her hand slowly down Kat’s torso.

Kat angled her face up slightly to catch a glimpse of her wife, “Mhmm, glad to oblige,” she replied, rolling over when Adena moved off of her back, plopping her head onto her fluffy pillow.

The brides laid real close together on their sides, mirroring each other, tangling their feet before sharing a languid kiss. “Mmmm,” Adena moaned into Kat’s mouth.

Kat pulled her head back to admire her gorgeous wife, combing her fingers through Adena’s messy locks, “I love you so much baby.”

Adena paused, studying Kat’s face. “I love you too, Joon.” They reintroduced their lips, then Adena smirked, “Hey, did your feet warm up?”

“Yes! Yes, they are VERY warm indeed!”

Adena giggled, with that cute little laugh that Kat cherished so much. “What times does our flight leave tomorrow?”

“10:15 a.m. and we have to be at the airport by eight,” Kat responded, tucking a loose strand of jet black hair behind Adena’s ear. “Sooo, we better make sure we pack most of our stuff up tonight to save time in the morning. Remember, we need to leave our wedding attire downstairs with the concierge tomorrow. My parents are going to swing by later and pick it up, take it to the cleaners, and eventually back to our place.

“Yes, i will remind you. That’s sweet of them.”

The wives were headed for a 15-day honeymoon vacation at a very romantic resort that Kat had secretly reserved on her own. She knew Adena would be very surprised and elated when they finally arrived at their tropical destination. She still had her convinced they were vacationing in Miami Beach, but they were really going to Playa Conchal in Costa Rica.

“Okay lazy bones, let’s get up soon,” Adena said slapping Kat’s thigh. We have dinner reservations downstairs in an hour and you said you were excited to try the Maine-style lobster rolls. I’m going to take another quick shower because...well...you know.” Adena grinned and flashed her eyes at Kat, then attempted to get out of bed. But as she sat up, she felt strong arms holding her down by the waist.

Adena turned around to see Kat’s cheesy grin, “Orrr...we could order the lobster rolls to our room and eat them naked in bed, Dee.”

Chapter Text

Kat’s hands felt clumsy as she unraveled the cobolt blue hijab. “You’re trembling, aziz-am,” Adena murmured, holding her new wife’s abdomen.

“I...I don’t know why I’m so nervous. It’s silly, really. I’ve done this many times before,” Kat replied with a shaky voice. Her eyes, framed by dark mascara, lifted up to meet Adena’s, as her hands kept in motion.

“Is okay, baby. Not silly at all.” Adena reached up and held Kat’s cheek with a delicate warm hand. She gave her a sympathetic smile, “This is our wedding night...I’m nervous too.”

The two stared deeply into each other’s eyes. For a moment, time seemed to stand still. Kat pivoted her arm to the side and let the loose silky material drop onto the hotel dresser, unpinning and combing her fingers through Adena’s hair to smooth it out. She lowered her hands to Adena’s waist and gently turned her around, reaching up again to move long black locks to one side, exposing her wife’s neck, pressing tender lips to her skin. “Mmmm,” Adena feebly responded into the air, reaching back with both hands, pulling at Kat’s hips to bring their bodies even closer together.

Kat drew her head away and continued on her task, pinching and unhooking the plastic pearl button at the top of Adena’s ivory gown with her fingers. She slowly pulled the metal zipper downward past her wife’s slender back, sliding the fastener to its end. Then slid the delicate material off Adena's shoulders until it met the floor in a quiet swoosh.

“So...so gorgeous,” escaped from Kat’s lips with a short breath, as she studied the hourglass figure before her. She leaned away, turning Adena back around, pausing for a few seconds to enjoy the view from the front side, too. Her wife looked up at her with hooded eyes and an uncontrollable little grunt escaped the back of Kat’s throat, as her eager eyes took in the sight. “Yes,” she hushed then smiled, confirming to herself that her friends had also gifted Adena incredibly sexy lingerie for their wedding night.

Adena encircled Kat’s neck with both hands and reciprocated the broad smile, moving to drag a thumb slowly across Kat’s throat while whispering, “You’re so beautiful too, my love.”

Kat stepped forward and pressed their bodies closer together, relishing in every curve she felt, wrapping her arms around the woman she was going to spend the rest of her life loving. Adena arched her back and Kat nestled against her, leaning to join their lips, sliding both hands downward, taking a firm grasp of Adena's exposed derrière, and fingering the scant lace on the back of her thong. “Ohh...Kaat,” Adena whined in her mouth.

Adena pushed her knee up between Kat’s legs, and Kat let out another grunt, “Hmpf,” then began gliding their lips together faster, pulling up on the stretchy bikini underwear, causing friction in her wife’s sensitive middle.

Adena gasped and began blindly reaching up behind Kat to unzip her tuxedo jumper, as emotions poured out and mouths opened. Kisses became deeper, more passionate.

Kat felt a cool draft on her back and immediately separated their faces, panting and pushing Adena backwards into the nearby wall, latching her open mouth back onto her wife’s earlobe. “Oh god,” Kat grumbled into Adena’s neck. She could taste the salt of perspiration on the artist’s skin and feel her rapidly increasing pulse. Adena shivered and became more aroused, gripping at Kat’s bare back.

Kat’s greedy hands moved over exposed skin while Adena frantically clawed at the loose tux material, until it too hit the floor, revealing Kat’s see-through undergarments. Adena gently pushed Kat away, allowing her hungry eyes to study Kat’s chest, tugging down her bra cups to free her breasts, brushing at both erect nipples with open palms.

As loud moans and heavy breathing filled the air, Kat hooked both thumbs onto Adena’s panty elastic, dragging them down slowly, dropping to her knees.

=====
Day 1:

As they boarded the jumbo jet, the jovial stewardess announced their seats were located on the left and five rows back. Kat had spared no cost and purchased two first class tickets to their romantic destination.

Adena led the way on their brief journey down the narrow aisle, stopping in front of two spacious leather seats, looking up at the numbers displayed. “Here we are,” she signaled with her index finger. “Joon, do you want the window seat?”

Kat pressed up against Adena’s back and let out a warm breath into the exposed nape of her neck, whispering into her ear, “You take it sexy, I’m good with the aisle.”

Adena giggled and reached back to playfully swat Kat’s thigh, “Okay, we can trade later if you’d like.” She turned and scooted into place, stuffing her camera bag and carry-on under the seat in front of her.

Kat poked Adena's shoulder and pointed down at her stuff, “Here babe, take out what you need and let me have your carry-on, I’ll place it overhead with mine. It’ll be nice to have the extra leg room.” Kat took off her navy colored bucket hat and threw it on her seat, shuffling through her large backpack for her iPad and neck pillow. Adena dug out her novel, journal and purple pen, and handed her wife the small bag. Once everything was secured in the overhead bin, Kat plopped down and buckled her seatbelt, reaching over to hold her wife’s left hand. “Give me some sugar,” she teased, and pecked Adena's lips twice.

Just a few hours earlier, Kat had surprised her new wife twice while packing up to leave the Plaza Hotel’s honeymoon suite behind. First, with a wrapped gift box containing a red string-bikini she wanted Adena to wear for her at the beach. “Wow baby, there’s NOT much material here,” Adena had noted holding it up with wide eyes, as Kat grinned and nodded happily. “I may get kicked off the beach.”

“Nah. I can’t wait to see you modeling it for me. Sutton and Jane helped me pick it out at Bloomingdale’s a few weeks back.”

The second surprise came at JFK International. The wives had arrived at the airport’s ticket counter to check in their two large rolling bags and, as Kat slid the paper documents on the countertop to the official, Adena was very surprised to hear the agent say, “Alrighty...just two of you for this morning’s direct flight to Liberia?”

Adena scrunched her face in confusion and silently turned to face Kat with parted lips,“ Yep, Katherine and Adena, that’s us.” Kat turned towards her travel partner and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze, “Surprise babe, I’m taking you to Costa Rica for our honeymoon, not Miami Beach.”

“Okay...and your passports please,” the redheaded employee interrupted with an extended hand.

Kat reached into her leather fanny pack and pulled out two passport booklets and Adena’s work visa, “There ya go.” The man took the documents, inspecting and flipping through various pages before typing something into his computer. The business printer made a grinding sound and the agent stapled the fresh papers to their tickets, handing them back, “Okay, there you go. Gate 27 to your left,” he gestured, “Have a safe trip. Next!”

As the plane pushed back from the gate and approached the tarmac, Adena rubbed and massaged Kat’s hand on top of her lap, “I’m SO excited, Kat. I can’t believe we are about to escape to paradise together for 15 glorious days.”

Kat silently gazed into dark eyes with admiration, then leaned over and stole two more quick kisses from Adena. “And, I can’t believe I am sitting here next to my spectacular Persian wife, on the way to our honeymoon.” She lifted their joined hand and kissed Adena’s wedding ring, “Have I mentioned you mean the world to me, jāné del-am.”

Adena nodded and leaned across, gently caressing Kat’s cheek with the back of her other hand, beaming. She held back happy tears, reflecting on the start of her new life with the gorgeous curly-haired woman sitting next to her. “You mean the world to me too, hamsar. I am so lucky.”

Forty-five minutes later, with the seatbelt signs turned off, Kat leaned in close to her wife’s ear, “Hey, wanna join the Mile High Club?”

=====
In the early afternoon, Kat and Adena arrived at Liberia International Airport and were soon headed in a taxicab to the Playa Conchal Resort. They were both running on adrenaline, very excited for the start of their adventure, and were marveling the lush tropical landscape speeding by their backseat windows. “Babe, I’m going to take THEE BEST pictures here! Just look at all the beauty and flowers,” the photographer eagerly pointed to Kat’s window, restless in her seat.

Kat turned her head back to Adena and scrunched her nose at her. “Yes, I can see all the beauty- -” she winked, “- - outside, but mostly inside this car.” Kat giggled and Adena gave her a peck on the shoulder.

The hour-long drive was very picturesque, winding through a narrow paved road, with vine-covered treetops, whose massive canopies shaded and covered the road below. There were colorful birds perching along the lower branches of fruit trees, and an amazing waterfall by a wooden bridge they slowly crossed. The women quickly learned their driver Raul was very animated and resourceful, giving them tips on different activities and places to see on their two-week paradise vacation.

“So you two beautiful ladies visiting my lovely country for the first time?”

Adena perked up and met Rauls eyes in the rear view mirror, as Kat was currently too busy making goofy faces at her in the back seat, trying to crack her up. “Yes...yes, this is our first time in Costa Rica. It’s lovely indeed, Raul,” Adena responded, patting Kat’s hand.

“So what brings you two here? Work or pleasure?”

“Hopefully lotta pleasure, and - -” Kat mumbled against her partner’s ear. Adena's hand lifted and swiftly covered Kat's mouth.

“Uhm...we are here on vacation and looking forward to relaxing on the beach, going for long walks, trying new delicacies, and enjoying your lovely culture. We welcome any suggestions for places to visit and restaurants near our resort, Raul.” Adena moved her hand back down from Kat’s face and patted her knee, again. “Behave,” she whispered back into Kat’s ear.

“Ooh, why yes. Yes, of course. There are many, many beautiful places to see around there. Where you are staying, Playa Conchal, is considered one of the most exotic beaches in the Pacific Ocean. Surrounded by wildlife and flowering arboretums. Depends what you like, but there is beach horseback riding, biking, snorkeling, shelling, fishing, and lotta good eateries near the resort. Also a great cultural center and indigenous museum. There’s also good golf, if you are golfers. I know Americans love their sport.”

Kat sat up taller and joined in the conversation. “Never got into golf myself, but my parents are avid golfers. Guess it’s something you do after turning 50. We are more into swimming, long walks on the beach, dinner and dancing, poetry readings, photography, and maybe some tennis.”

“Ah, si. Yes, you will have lotta opportunity for all those activities at the resort. My wife’s youngest brother works there at their stables, sometimes he’s even at their pool cabanas, and he can give you more information on activities available. His name is Gustavo and tell him Raulito sent you. He is good people and will treat you right.”

Adena turned to face Kat, “Maybe we should try horseback riding. I haven’t been on a horse since I moved to Europe and you never have, right?”

“Only one summer when I was eleven, the time my parents sent me to Camp Chinkequa for six weeks. They had stables and we rode often.” Kat closed her eyes reflecting, “God that was fun. Met the most wonderful counselors and 17 other girls there.” She opened her eyes back up and looked towards the driver. “ I still keep in touch with a couple of them after all these years.”

“Aw, how sweet Kat,” Adena chuckled. “I love learning new things about you.”

Kat turned her head back and kissed Adena’s nose, “Likewise, babe.”

Raul continued, “I know there are several excursions on horseback from the resort. Gustavo and his wife take vacationers on a half-day beach ride. I think the participants also stop and hike to a waterfall. Ask him about it. I’ve heard this from my wife.”

=====
As the taxi pulled up to the hotel roundabout, a gentleman wearing a white shorts and guayabera uniform opened the car door and greeted the wives happily, “Bienvenidos, welcome to Concha Resort! I’m Adán. Please allow me to take all your baggage for you. I will meet you at the check-in desk shortly, madams.”

Stepping out of the cab, Kat swiftly leaned back inside the open passenger window, “Well, muchas gracias Raul.” She handed the friendly driver cash for the fare plus a generous gratuity. “We will look for Gustavo and say you sent us.”

Raul tipped his fedora and waved goodbye, “Thank you, kind ladies. Enjoy paradise!”

Once inside their large hotel room, Kat laced their hands together and pulled Adena by the hand towards the French doors that lead to their private outdoor space. They parted the sheer long curtains to witness a small swimming pool overlooking the majestic Costa Rican Gold Coast. There was a negative edge on one end and comfortable-looking pool furniture around the deck.

“Oh my gosh, this place is amazing baby! How did you find it?”

“This is pura vida, bayy-bee!” Kat exhaled, pulling her shoulders and arms back into a long stretch. She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, releasing it slowly.

Adena looked up at Kat, watching her diaphragm contract. “Oh yes, is paradise indeed.” She reached down and intertwined their hands together again. “I’m so elated with your honeymoon surprise.”

Kat opened her eyes and kissed Adena’s forehead, unlocking the doors and moving them both outside to the intimate patio area. “Mina from sales and advertising once mentioned it to a group of us during a lunch meeting...years ago. She had visited here with a group of college girlfriends. Couldn’t stop ranting and raving about it. Guess I always kept it in the back of my mind as a place to bring someone very special.” Kat turned and winked at Adena, wrapping both arms around her midsection. “And when I googled their website six months ago, saw they had a few suites with private pools for lovers...well, heck I was sold,” she laughed.

Adena squeezed Kat tighter and gently pressed their noses together, “Well, I’m very happy to be your very special someone.”

“No one can take my special love for you away, Adena. No one.”

The two wallowed in the embrace and the moment, as a warm light breeze made the surrounding bushes and trees sway. Some loose flower petals tumbled into the pool and colorful butterflies fluttered by, as exotic birds chirped hidden in greenery. Kat tilted her head forward and began to kiss her wife. Adena pulled Kat’s face closer by the back of her head, deepening their kiss. Soon hands were slipped down the back of Adena’s pants, under lace panties, kneading at her butt cheeks. Adena broke the kiss and exhaled with, “Why don’t we freshen up and then go investigate the hotel grounds, first. Yes?”

Kat smirked at her and joined their lips again for another hot kiss, before answering her. “Mmmm...maybe?”

Adena tried to stop Kat’s advances in vain, shortly succumbing to them. Kat pulled her up by the thighs and she wrapped her legs around Kat, shortly ending up back inside the room, lying in their big bed, pretzeled together. An hour-plus and a shower later, they went downstairs to visit the hotel consierge and plan out their Costa Rican excursions.

=====
The two pressed heads and shared a colorful brochure they had picked up from the lobby when they first checked in. Adena had encircled a few of the activities with a pen, and Kat listed them off to the hotel employee , “Yes, we’d like to do the one-day scuba diving trip and island hop, the beach horseback and hiking exploration, and photographer’s wildlife refuge dream tour.”

The metal nameplate on the glass desk read ‘Magdalena’, and the bubbly concierge tapped on the keys of her laptop as Kat finished speaking. “Excellent choices. Anything else, girls? Perhaps the shopping excursion to neighboring towns, or bar-hopping night? There are a lot of eligible men who frequent our bars,” the young woman raised her eyes and smiled up at them from her computer.

“Nope. The rest of the time my wife and I are just gonna hang out at the beach or enjoy our private pool. You know...have romantic dinners? I think the hotel knows we are on our honeymoon.” Kat gave Adena a side view and smirked. Adena pressed her lips together to keep from laughing.

“Oh? Oh yes. I, I apologize,” the woman stuttered and blushed. She quickly looked back down at her screen. “I...I see it here. You are staying at one of our glamorous honeymoon suites. Yes! Very well miss, I will set those up for you both and have the itineraries delivered to your room in a bit.”

Kat could see the girl felt bad, over-correcting her mistake. So she softened the situation, “It’s okay. We are all good. Thank you.”

The wives exited the main hotel building and proceeded to investigate all the resort grounds and restaurants. Later on, when they returned to their suite, they found their excursion itinerary on a table with a note and small bouquet of fresh cut flowers, ‘Congratulations on your nuptials, Mrs. and Mrs. El-Amin-Edison. Please let me know if I can be of any further service. Regards, Magdalena’

=====
Day 3:

The scuba diving trip was a day long experience. It started out very early on the private beach of the resort, with a two-hour lesson on how to use the equipment safely, then a practice dive in the adjoining shallow lagoon. Once the small crowd of participants boarded the boat and headed for deeper waters, the real adventure began. Kat and Adena were wide-eyed as they dove and enjoyed the warm ocean waters, swimming with tropical schools of colorful fish and marine life everywhere. The trip included an underwater disposable camera for every couple, and a small white board and special marker to communicate underwater. Adena had a lot of fun with the camera and Kat’s funny messages for her to photograph.

Around noon, the group was called back onto the boat for a lunch break. Afterwards, it was back in the water for more scuba diving and snorkeling, before returning back to the resort in the late afternoon. The ocean had been calm in the early morning, but in the afternoon it had become rougher, more choppy. The rocking and swaying of the mid-sized vessel by aggressive waves, coupled with the intense heat and sun glare coming off the water, made a few of the tourists seasick. Unfortunately, Kat was one of the unlucky few. All Adena could do for her wife was softly scratch at her scalp as Kat puked over the edge of the boat, then laid her forehead on Adena’s shoulder. She encouraged her to keep hydrating, using the moist beach towel to shield Kat from the sun.

Kat quietly whined and gripped onto her empty plastic water bottle, as the old diesel boat motor churned away. Adena readjusted the towel around Kat’s shoulders and head, kissing her damp forehead. “Maybe we should have done the more relaxed morning-only snorkel trip, babe. This rough water and scorching sun is not so good for us New Yorkers.”

“Live and learn, Dee,” Kat muttered, praying the shoreline was soon in sight. She lifted her head up at Adena adding, “But I’m hoping you got some awesome undersea pictures. So it was worth the sacrifice and heat.”

Adena nodded sympathetically at her wife, reaching deep into their beach bag for her own water bottle, offering it to Kat. “Here, you must stay hydrated. Once we get back to our room I’ll draw you a cool bath to soak in. You just need to cool down and then sleep it off, joon.”

“Thanks baby.” Kat took a couple of big gulps of the tepid water and handed the bottle back. She looked up at Adena again with sunken eyes, revealing, “I like when you take care of me.”

Adena gently rubbed Kat’s shoulder over the towel, “Well, that’s good. Because I like taking care of you.”

=====
Day 4:

Kat had spent the prior day’s late afternoon and night sleeping. It was very early and she was wide awake now. It wasn’t that she couldn’t sleep anymore, it was more of she didn’t want to sleep. Right now she had Adena’s head pressed up against her side, face smushed up into her warm skin. Little whimpers and snores were being released by the petite woman into the silent room, and Kat deemed them precious. She did not want to miss a moment of this. So no, falling asleep again was not an option, if she could help it.

Adena began to mumble and twitch, suddenly waking herself up from what seemed like a lucid dream. She lifted her head up and scanned the dark room finding her bearings.

“Hey,” Kat sighed.

Adena turned towards her and smiled, laying her head back down on a soft pillow, “Hey.”

Kat softly traced Adena’s arm with her fingertips, “What were you dreaming of?”

Adena cleared her throat and tangled her leg over Kat’s. I was just dreaming we were back at work and I dropped the expensive Nokia in a huge fish tank in Jacqueline’s office.”

Kat let out a chuckle, “Oh boy, that’s mind blowing. Must have been brought on by our scuba trip.”

“Yes, perhaps,” Adena answered, rubbing her sleepy eyes with her left hand, then placing it atop Kat’s chest. “Are you feeling better, baby? Did your headache go away? Your heartbeat is back to normal.”

Kat scratched the top of her head then rubbed her temple, “Yes. I just needed to drink lotsa water and get some rest and air conditioning.”

Adena let out a soft laugh, “I’m so glad. What time is it? Do you know?”

Kat reached over to the top of blue bamboo table where her phone laid. “It’s 20 after 3 a.m. Ha, our sleep schedules are so screwed up.” She twisted back to Adena’s side and smiled. “But I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend all hours of the day and night awake with.”

Adena yawn and buried her face in Kat’s chest, “Mhmm, me neither sweetheart.”

The yawn was contagious and Kat followed suit. She nuzzled her face against her wife’s messy locks, “Mmmm, love the coconut shampoo we bought at the hotel gift shop yesterday. Makes me hungry,” she jested.

Adena lifted her head up tenderly gazing at her girl, then both let out little giggles. Kat rolled onto her back pulling Adena with her.

“You sure you’re feeling better, Aziz-am?” Adena rested her forehead against Kat’s and her dark locks draped down on either side.

“Yes, much better thanks.” Kat reached up and gathered Adena’s hair into a ponytail and held it in place. “I’m sorry I ruined the scuba trip and wasted all yesterday afternoon in here sleeping. And - -“

Adena reached over and placed three fingers over Kat’s lips, “Shhh. You did not ruin anything. We still saw amazing stuff underwater and I got to use my disposable waterproof camera you bought me.” She gave a sympathetic smile. “And, I can't wait to see pictures of us in our scuba gear like we’re experts. I’m going to print and frame the best one for my desk.”

Kat blinked up and let out a small chuckle, “Yeah?”

“Yeah! And...while you slept I sat out by the pool and caught up on my journal writing, finished my mystery novel. I also FaceTimed Maman and Zareen.” Adena rolled partially off Kat onto the mattress and Kat released her hair. “They send their love, by the way. So there. You see, it was a successful day-three for us.” Adena pushed Kat’s stray curls back with her hand, onto the pillow. “Besides, we are not Jane. We do not have to be on a strict, non-flexible schedule.”

Kat nodded and smiled, “Thank goodness. I love Jane, but I could never be married to her. We’d kill each other.”

Adena chuckled, “Yes, we wrote out a list of all the activities we want to try and do while we’re here. But nothing is written in stone. Remember, this is our honeymoon. As you said, the El-Amin-Edison sexy time, love each other until death do us part, honeymoon. We can digress from the schedule and do whatever we like. No judgment here.” Adena finished her speech, crashing their lips with a languid kiss that turned into a 20 minute make-out session on the king sized bed.

They finally stopped kissing and Kat gazed at Adena with a funny look on her face. “What? What are you so pensive about, joon?”

“Just that sometimes I feel like this is all a dream, so perfect that I never want to wake up again.“ Kat noticed Adena got misty eyed. “Given a choice, I’d stay here forever in your arms, kissing, not caring about anything else in my life.”

“Aww, that’s so sweet.” Adena rearranged and laid on her stomach, head sideways on her crossed arms, staring at Kat. Kat sat up and dragged her head over Adena’s back, creating goosebumps along its path with her loose curls.

“Hahaha! Stop! Stop, that tickles!” Adena laughed and squirmed uncontrollably before Kat flopped back down next to her, using her short nails to scratch her torso.

“Did you ever imagine you’d be married to a tall, sexy social media head, with massive amounts of wild curly hair, that made you laugh like a child?”

Adena giggled and briefly looked up the ceiling before locking eyes with Kat again. “Uhm, no. But I guess I never imagined being able to marry at all. Especially being a Muslim woman.”

“Hmm, true.” Kat moved up and combed her fingers through Adena’s long hair now. “Did you ever wish that for you and Coco?”

Adena thought that was an odd thing for Kat to ever bring up, especially on their honeymoon. She knew Kat was always insecure when it came to her past relationship with Coco. She paused and knitted her brows in confusion, looked away, then gave a firm, “No. Never with her. I never saw a real future with that woman. I’m glad I came to my senses and ended it all with her. She made me so miserable frequently. She could be so patronizing and deceiving.” Kat could see the hurt in her wife’s expression.

There was an awkward silence between them before their eyes met again. Adena leaned over and began to make out with Kat once more. When they paused to catch their breath, she asked Kat, “Did you ever imagine being married?”

“To a woman? Not in a million years,” Kat laughed. “To a dude...maybe, but I honestly thought I’d never get married. Just live life single, enjoying one night stands. Focusing on my career and friendships, instead. I just never found an intimate connection with men I dated.”

“But wouldn’t that just get old, be empty eventually?”

Kat shrugged her shoulders, “Yeah, I guess. I just never had such an incredible relationship with anyone before I met you, Adena. No one moved me the way you did. You stole my heart from the moment we packed that contraband in your suitcase that one night.”

=====
Day 6:

The horses trotted down the sandy beach kicking up sea foam all around. The group rode for about 45 minutes following the shoreline until their guide Gustavo, a man about 40 with what Kat described to be the biggest mustache she’s ever seen, summoned everyone to stop. “Whoa! We stop here amigos and tie the horses to that wooden fence,” he pointed ahead. “Then, those of you that want, may take that trail through the mangrove to the waterfall. Lucia María will lead the way,” he explained. I will stay here with the horses and anyone who wants to just play in the sea and sand. Set up some fishing poles. We’ll have a delicious lunch waiting for you when you all return.”

The participants dismounted and walked each horse to where Lucia stood. Kat got off her animal first and helped Adena down. Adena hugged her and Kat kissed the top of her head. “How are you holding up,” Adena asked, kissing Kat back on the shoulder.

Kat smiled and nodded, “Great, I’m ready to hike and see this majestic waterfall with my majestic girl.” Adena giggled and the couple shared a loving gaze, until Lucia began to explain the activities ahead.

“Alright, the hike to the falls will take roughly 20 minutes through jungle and a well-marked path. We will eventually descend 128 wooden steps down to the edge of the Catarata. Hope everyone is wearing their bathing suit underneath their clothes because the water is clean, refreshing, and crystal clear. I will allow you to climb, explore, admire, and swim the falls for approximately an hour. Then we’ll head back upstairs and back to the beach. Any questions?”

A newlywed couple from Arizona raised their hands. The young husband asked, “Will we see any exotic wildlife near the falls?”

“Most likely. The area is surrounded by white-faced capuchin monkeys, Scarlet Macaws and a myriad of smaller exotic birds, just like back at the Concha Resort. If we are lucky, today we may even encounter a three-toed sloth.” The group let out a simultaneous small gasp. “Also, there will be small fish and freshwater shrimp in the fall’s basin. Of course, this is jungle, so bugs, lizards, and snakes may be found along the path. But don’t fret, as long as you keep your hands and feet to yourselves, everything will leave us alone. That’s why we ask you wear closed toe shoes. And, I will protect you,” the woman ended with a laugh. “Anyone else?”

A woman from Germany raised her hand next, “My wife is allergic to poison ivy. Will she be okay, or should we stay on the beach and wait for your return?”

“Please, don’t miss seeing the falls. You will not encounter this plant here. The trail is very clean and cut back so nothing will bother you. But be aware of the Manzanillo Tree near the beach, the one with small apples. Some people may react to it with a bad rash, if they touch it.” Lucia adjusted her hot pink cap and wiped the sweat off her brow with the back of her wrist. “These are all great questions. Anyone else?”

Kat and Adena laced their fingers together and smiled at each other. Kat leaned close to her wife and whispered, “Is now NOT the right time to mention to Lucia you are terrified of spiders and I of snakes?”

Adena booped Kat’s nose affectionally with her index finger. “Probably too late. But we’ll be alright. I have faith in our guide,” she concluded with a grin.

“Okay good...stop me along the path anytime with new inquiries. So again, we will give you an opportunity to revel in all our beauty on this hike and I’ll point out anything amazing we encounter along the way,” the dark haired woman added. “As my husband mentioned, when we return to the beach, before riding back to the resort, we will be treated to a tasty lunch made by our local nearby restaurant, ‘Sabor’. The business sets it up for us on the beach, under the shade of the coconut trees.” Lucia loudly clapped her hands twice, “This is a wonderful excursion people, and you won’t be disappointed.”

=====
Up ahead in the jungle clearing, a thunderous sound could be heard. The fit brunette led the hikers to their final destination, where they witnessed the incredible, a roaring river moving towards a steep edge, foaming, bubbling and tumbling over boulders and branches, pounding on rocks. The water descended 200 feet into a large plunge pool below. There was a musty odor emanating in the air all around, surrounding all the landscape. The salinity of the freshwater could also be tasted.

The landmark was bright and very scenic. The entire group was in awe, and Kat stood next to Adena with jaw dropped. “Wow Dee, I’ve never seen such vivid, marvelous turquoise colored water before. So sparkling!”

Adena held on to the smooth wooden railing, glancing down the edge below. “Is truly stupendous, Aziz-am. You know, in many cultures, waterfalls are held sacred, said to have spiritual cleansing powers.” She reached to take Kat’s hand and momentarily closed her eyes. “I read it is a symbol of a great release of emotion, a rejuvenation. Denotes the renewal of the human spirit.”

Kat lovingly smiled at her smart girl, adding, “Water does represent life, associated with fertility, birth and purification. It has some connection to...eternity, too. I remember that from my theology 101 class in college. Dang, I actually paid attention in that 8 a.m. class,” she giggled. Adena smiled at her and nodded proudly.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Catarata Vida Hermosa. The Catarata, or waterfall, is named by our indigenous people for its cleansing and continuous flow of energy and life. Like they say in English, ‘Life is Good’, and Vida Hermosa is proof of that.” Lucia shifted to her right and gestured, “Let’s all now carefully take the wooden stairs to the bottom of the viewing platform. Please move single file and watch your step, it tends to get slippery towards the end. We will cross a rope bridge and then gather under those two huge trees.”

When the group reached the bottom of the stairs near the falls, they stopped and stood under a couple of immense trees with massive crowns and cascading greenery. The guide pointed and turned everyone’s attention towards the top of the conifers, where their joined long branches twisted and pretzeled together into the shape of a large heart. “These majestic beauties are known as ‘Los Árboles de Amantes,’ or ‘Lovers Trees’. They are our National tree, the Guanacaste. They serve our native people with many things. Its water-resistant wood is very good for making furniture, and our steps and railings here,” she rubbed the smooth handrail a couple of times to accentuate her lesson. The leaves are medicinal and can be used to treat colds, respiratory problems. And, the bark extract can be made into soap.” Lucia knocked on the base of one of the trunks and paused momentarily to admire the arbors. A couple of members noted that there were many carved initials on both trunks. Lucia reached behind to her nap sack and pulled out a three stubby carving knives. “Yes, these are the marks of many, many past visitors to the falls. I encourage couples to do the same, leave your initials and today’s date with my knife, tell Mother Nature who you are madly in love with.”

Adena coyly smiled at Kat as she, along with two others, approached Lucia to borrow the tools. She walked over to the lover’s tree and carved out, ‘Adena + Kat 2021’ on it. Adena took the knife from her and finished it with a heart engraved around the letters.

“There...is beautiful! Marked forever into history,” she stated with a pressed lip smile.

“Yes, it’s beautiful as you are. And the trees will forever guard our union and love sweetheart,” Kat summarized with tear filled eyes, kissing Adena softly on the lips. Others stepped forward to do the same on the trees. And they were all instructed to freely hike and swim at their leisure.

The next 60-plus minutes were spent swimming in water that was, “Bluer than the clearest sky I’ve ever seen,” Kat confessed. The wives took turns climbing partially up the slippery rocks to pose for pictures. Kat liked to do a cannonball into the water after Adena snapped her photo, making the artist giggle uncontrollably at her. They stood and swam together under the refreshing cascading water, basking in its glory and soothing massage, releasing happy chemicals through their bodies.

With some exploration, they found and swam to a more secluded grotto area of the basin, away from the crowds, where they were able to share more intimate kisses and embraces, slipping their hands in each other’s bikini bottoms.

“Ohhh...I love you so much, Deena,” Kat sighed into her wife’s shoulder.

“I love you too, my love.”

The excursion concluded back at the beach, with a scrumptious lunch of seafood, chicken, rice and beans, and sweet plantains. There was fresh chopped mangoes and guayabas for desert, and coco frío for anyone that liked the taste of the sweet water, just picked off the beaches’ coconut trees by Manuel, a restaurant worker handy with a machete and tree-climbing expertise.

With full bellies, and re-saddled horses, the tourists mounted their rides for a leisure trek back to the resort.

=====

DAY 9:

As the screen came into focus, Kat yelled into her tablet and teased, “Hey, hey, hey losers!! Y’all keeping out of trouble?! Have you managed to kill Adena’s plants yet?” She had a big smile plastered on her face, and a few of her stray curls floated freely in the ocean breeze. She also wore fresh flowers in her hair, curtesy of Adena.

“Kat!!!

Katherine?!” she heard screeching back from the screen. Both Jane and Sutton were pressed close together, fighting for camera space.

“Look at you in your sexy yellow bikini, girl!” What on earth are you doing calling us from your sex-crazed honeymoon?” The blonde bellowed with a hand on her head.

Jane leaned into the screen, blocking out her friend. “No, no Sutton. She can call and dedicate a few minutes to her bridesmaids and best friends, too.” The brunette grinned then rambled off a bunch of inquiries - - “How are you guys?...how’s Costa Rica?...how’s the food? And, where’s Adena?!”

Sutton shoved her back, “Jane, you’re hogging the phone screen! I can’t see!”

Kat threw her head back with a belly laugh, “Tee-hee! You guys crack me up! Guess nothing’s changed since I left you both alone to fend for yourselves last week.” She shook her head and focused her attention on her bickering friends for another minute, before answering. “Ahh, we are doing great! CR is fabulous...the food, the people too...and here’s my beautiful wife,” Kat quickly pivoted her tablet lense to show Adena lying next to her on a beach towel. Kat cooed, “Isn’t she hot, girls? I am sooo fucking lucky.”

Adena was wearing her new red string bikini, yellow and red flowered hijab, and a pair of big, dark round sunglasses. Sutton was quick to notice, “Oh my gawd...she’s wearing that next-to-nothing bikini you bought at Bloomies. Hot? More like she’s smokin’ hot, Kat, you lucky devil!”

Kat giggled and kept the camera on her wife. Adena now lifted up onto both elbows and grinned widely. “Well hello there ladies,” she greeted, blowing a kiss at the screen. “This place is paradise. We are having a lovely time...and, I am the lucky one with MY smoking hot wife.” Adena reached her hand out, off screen.

“You both are getting so tanned. Hope you’re using lots of SPF 50,” Jane noted. “Oh, before I forget, your fern and houseplants are doing great. I went over there yesterday, checked and watered everything as instructed. And no, I didn’t water the succulents, Kat,” Jane stuck her tongue out at the screen in front of her.

Adena smiled, “Thank you so much, Jane. You’re an angel. I know you’ll be great with our place and plants. No worries, please.”

“My pleasure,” Jane sat up proudly with a smug smile on her face.

“Cool beans, Tiny Jane.” Kat focused the camera on a large flock of long-billed foul by the shoreline.

“Aww, wish we were there. Look at that beach and wildlife!” Jane exclaimed.

“Yeah, I’m sure Kat and Adena would let us stay in the pullout of their honeymoon suite,” Sutton rolled her eyes, responding sarcastically. Jane turned and slapped her shoulder. “Ouch, Tiny!”

Kat and Adena both laughed aloud, “Nope, sorry guys. No visitors allowed in the El-Amin-Edison love chamber.” Kat flipped the camera back and laid down next to Adena, who was smiling at her last statement. Now Jane and Sutton could see both wives on the screen together.

The conversation continued for a few more minutes then Adena suggested they return up to their suite and give the girls a cyber-tour of their marvelous accommodations. They stood and shook the sand from their towels. Kat was happy to play tour guide and gave step-by-step commentaries as they walked past the resort’s tennis courts, giant pool, luscious green grounds, and up colorful tiled steps. Finally arriving at their destination.

“Here we are...Casita C5. Bienvenue,” Adena unlocked and opened the blue wooden door and led the way inside.

Kat pointed the camera in various directions as she walked, “To the left, we have our own kitchenette and spacious spa bath with large jacuzzi tub for two...and my favorite part is on the right. Here’s the king sized bed and mirrored ceiling,” Kat pointed the camera up and waved at her reflection with a devilish grin. Adena covered her mouth and giggled, and the girls let out concurrent gasps over the speaker.

“It’s like the ‘No Tell Motel’ back home,” Sutton blurted out.

Kat continued moving forward, “And...a bit further is my second favorite part.” Adena opened the flowy white curtains and French doors, exiting to a private patio area, “Our very own private pool!”

A wide-eyed Sutton uttered, “Wowza, you guys are truly in lover’s paradise. No wonder we’re not invited.”

“Yeah, all that’s missing is the champagne glass whirlpool tub like in the Poconos,” Jane exclaimed.

“A tub filled with champagne?” Adena scrunched her face up at Kat in question.

Kat shook her head at her wife and looked back at the screen, “No champagne tub here, but having access to our own private pool is really nice. We use it a couple times a day to cool off and relax. And, since it’s walled in and all super private, we go in sans swimsuits,” Kat pressed her cheek to Adena’s and continuously waggled her eyebrows into the screen to accentuate the vision.

Adena chuckled at her silly wife’s escapades, diverting her eyes from the screen for a moment. “Is been heaven sent. We are taking lot's of pictures, and I will make a PowerPoint and have you both over for dinner and photos when we are back.” Adena patted her wife’s face and walked away.

“Yes and by ‘we’, she means Adena has taken A LOT of pictures,” Kat clarified and laughed.

“Can’t wait to see all the wonderful photos, ladies,” Sutton responded.

“And eat your homemade Persian food, Adena,” Jane added. “No offense, Kat.”

“None taken, Jane.”

“What’s all that ruckus?” Sutton inquired, as the sounds of wildlife surrounded the patio area.

“Ohhh, we have bands of feral monkeys and colorful parrots that keep us entertained from these big trees behind the block fence. It’s truly amazing here.” Kat pointed the lense up to a bunch of tall foliage, then back down at her own face. “But the best seat in the house is here,” she scurried and sat down, leaning back on the double lounger, flipping the view to her wife who was now on the second step of the pool, knee deep in water. Adena smiled up and waved at the girls once more. Then put both hands on her hijab.

Kat inverted the iPad’s camera back to herself but kept her eyesight drawn to her wife, who took off her head covering, folding it neatly, placing it on the cool deck, and turned around to dive into the refreshing water.

“Uh-hum...hello? You were saying, babe. The best seat in the house is where?” Sutton drew Kat out of her temporary hypnosis and back to the conversation at hand.

“Wha-? Oh yes.” Kat looked back down at her screen. “Right here, right where I can watch my girl swimming.” Adena came up for air as she reached the deep end of the pool, then did a swimmers flip and started swimming back in the other direction. Kat turned the viewer back to the pool, where Adena was shrouded by splashing water and bubbles, “That right there guys, that’s the best thing that could ever happen to this 28 year old social media director from Connecticut. Life is good.”

Jane and Sutton heard Kat’s voice crack as she finished speaking, appearing once again on the screen. They simultaneously sighed and Sutton replied, “Aww, babe. We are so happy for you both. We love you and Adena very much.”

“Yes, you guys are goals for sure,” Jane concluded.

“Thanks guys. You both know we went through a lot of ups and downs in our relationship. Like a fool, I wasted a lot of time seeing other people. But thank goodness I finally saw the light, let go of my fears, stopped double guessing myself. I was an idiot and almost lost her twice, but in the end love won.” Kat rapidly blinked and caught a falling tear with her thumb. “Our magnetic pull was just too strong. Adena is my soulmate, and I cannot imagine spending my life with anyone else.” Kat paused and her eyes became more misty. When she looked back down at her friends, Jane was drying her eyes and Sutton sniffled into her sweater sleeve.

“Well kid, I think we should disconnect now and let you go join your soulmate in the pool. We’ll talk later or see you guys soon at JFK,” Jane broke the silence.

“Okay, yes. I love you both so much and so does Adena. We’ll be together again soon. Bye!” The threesome waved and threw kisses at each other, then the screen went blank. Kat laid the tablet on the outdoor cushion next to her, relaxing her head back, joyfully sighing. Married life was indeed good, she pondered, and the best was yet to come.

=====
Day 11:

“This is wildlife utopia! Look up there. Our monkeys are back.” Kat shaded her eyes and pointed directly up into the canopy of the large trees separating their bungalow from the neighbor’s. Adena raised her camera and zoomed in, snapping a few pictures before the agile critters scurried off to a hidden branch. “They’re the same kind we saw yesterday at the Photographer’s Wildlife Refuge!”

“Yes, they’re lovely!”

“You know, time sure marches to a different drum here. All this nature makes us stop and listen, take in all the wonderful sounds around us. Make time to just breathe. This must be where that saying, stop and smell the roses, originated from.”

“Agreed, I love that saying. We may never want to return to crazy New York City. Adena drew her hands back down and placed the lense cover back on her professional grade camera. Kat turned over on her side to face her on the pool lounger they shared. Adena rolled over too and mirrored her, placing the camera down in between them.

“Your skin is so soft,” Kat said, reaching and skimming her fingertips up her lover’s leg, over the curve of her hip. She grasped Adena’s bathing suit bottom and pushed the material to the side a bit, sitting up to kiss the exposed untanned skin. “You have the best booty.”

Adena giggled and twisted her head up to respond, “I’m glad you like my...my booty. That’s always sounded like a funny word to me.” Kat laid back on her side and Adena rubbed their toes together.

“Nothing funny about your booty,” Kat teased, scrunching her nose and smiled widely.

“Well I like yours, too. Your boo...tee. Especially when you dance for me all sexy around the bed.” Adena lifted her hand and gave Kat’s ass a squeeze.

“Hmm, then I need to keep dancing for my wife,” Kat said, grinning into a kiss.

Adena pressed their noses together, “I like that plan,” and shared a few more soft kisses. “Speaking of plans, what should we do today? What’s on our lax agenda?”

“Uhm, maybe it’s time to take a dip in our private pool, again?” Kat swung her leg over the edge of the cushion and sat up. She grabbed her beach cover-up and lifted it over her head, revealing her black one piece bathing suit . She knelt down on top of the cushions and clenched Adena’s Rosalía concert shirt, easily removing it when Adena shifted up and raised her arms over her head.

“Okay,” Adena turned and stood up, and Kat joined her. Both stripping off their swimsuits. Kat licked her lips and gave Adena a seductive look before moving past her, diving head first into the fresh water. Adena followed her lead, swimming and meeting back up with her wife at the shallow end of the basin.

Kat opened her arms wide and Adena stepped between them, bodies pressed together. They kissed and eager hands glided freely on wet flesh. Adena wrapped a leg around Kat’s hips, as Kat maneuvered her open lips onto her chin, across her jaw and down to her neck. Adena grunted, nipping at Kat’s shoulder as she felt two long fingers pushed between her thighs. Whispers spilled from Adena’s lips every time Kat moved her hand. “Yes...yes...”

Adena felt lightheaded, physically weightless. She wasn’t sure if it was due to the effects of being in the water, or the avalanche of emotions crazy-mad love creates. Perhaps a combination of both. She felt tethered to Kat like they were each other’s lifelines, hugging her tightly, securely.

Kat gazed up at her wife with so much adoration, questioning the moment. She wondered how she had gotten so damn lucky to have met the beautiful courageous artist on that fateful summer morning in that art studio. Kat could never imagine her life without Adena now. She didn’t want to ever let go of such a good thing.

After a few minutes, Adena tilted her chin up and let out a shaky exhale. She melted into Kat’s arms with her eyes closed and Kat held her tight. Eventually, Kat slipped her fingers out and Adena dropped her leg, pulled away swimming to the edge of the pool, stepping out of the water. Kat followed her every move with intense eyes, as Adena sauntered towards her towel and wiped her hands dry. She knew Kat was watching her very move and it was exhilarating to have that attention. She picked up her camera once more and began photographing Kat, asking her to pose for her. Kat obliged by leaning up against the pool’s negative edge, arms stretched straight up to both sides, curls sodden, and exposed chest above the water line. She knew Adena always loved how her hair looked wet.

Adena lowered her camera and smiled, asking Kat to step out of the water for more pictures. Kat obliged and swam over to the stairs and climbed out. Her body was dripping and glistening in the sun. Kat stopped a few feet away and Adena raised and pointed her camera back at her.

“You’ve heard of Playboy and Penthouse magazines, right?” Kat asked, serious look on her face and her hand dragging across her belly.

Adena lowered the instrument and replied with a funny expression, “Yes. My cousin Esfir found a Playboy magazine hidden under her big brother’s mattress one summer when we were 15. She showed it to me when he was out of the house, and I was fascinated by the beautiful photographs of women. I’ve never seen a Penthouse magazine but I’ve heard about it. It’s more risqué right?” The artist put the camera back up to her face waiting for a response.

“Well, are these pictures of me for Playboy or Penthouse?” Kat smirked.

Adena tilted her head and lowered the camera, “Why do you ask?”

Kat made her way back to the poolside lounger and laid on her side, facing her wife. “Because it depends. If it’s for Playboy, I’ll just pose for you like this.” Kat put her elbow on the cushion and propped her head up on one hand, laying her free arm outstretched over her hip.

“Okay...,” Adena answered and quickly snapped some photographs. She removed the camera once more and her voice lowered one octave, inquiring, “And if it’s for Penthouse?”

“Well?” Kat rolled onto her back and parted her legs, sticking two fingers partially in her mouth.

Adena’s eyes widened and she fumbled with her camera. For a second she stood paralyzed, forgetting what she was doing.

Kat felt like laughing but she kept a straight face, pulling her fingers slowly out from her closed lips. She knew she was being a big tease. “Well...aren’t you going to take more pictures?”

The artist brought the camera up once again and the shutter clicked away. But she soon decided to abandone the device on the patio table and walked over to Kat’s side. She stretched her arm in front of her, offering Kat her hand, “Come.” Adena pulled Kat up and laced their fingers together, hastily leading her wife back inside the hotel room to their bed.

=====
Day 13:

Kat’s curls were damp and weighed down past her shoulders. Adena reclined with eyes closed, over a mountain of pillows against the bed’s rattan headboard. Her freshly washed hair was wrapped in a towel, and she wiggled her toes as she indulged in the soca music that was playing on the room’s radio. Kat was at the foot of the bed painting her toenails a shade of dusty blue.

“Okay babe, sit still. We don’t want to get nail polish on these white sheets, or the hotel will charge us for them.”

Adena was amused observing Kat, who was in deep concentration with her mouth slightly open, delicately applying the second coat of polish to her toes. She gently twisted sideways, grabbing her phone to capture pictures of Kat hard at work. “Hmph, you’re so adorable. You know that?”

Kat paused and briefly drew her sight up at the artist, smiled, but quickly looked back down to continue her task. “Welp, that’s why you couldn’t let me go after we met for the first time in your studio.”

Adena let out a short laugh, “True...very true. So beautiful. You were also the boldest woman I had ever met. Very relentless and that was such a turn on.

Kat leaned back and cautiously screwed the little black bottle top closed. “There, all done. Now we have matching toes,” she giggled and stood up, strolling over to the nightstand to place the nail polish and take a sip from her water bottle.

“Yay! I love them,” Adena announced, flexing both feet up towards her to get a better view. She patted the space next to her with the flat of her hand, and Kat laid down beside her. “Thank you, zan.”

Kat dragged the tip of her nose up Adena’s forearm and smiled. “I love it when you call me that.” She pulled herself forward and gave Adena a soft kiss on the base of her neck.

“Mmm,” Adena moaned. “You’re going to make me mess up my lovely toes. My hot manicurist will be very upset with you.”

“Um-hum, we better then be careful and wait a bit. We don’t want to get her mad.”

=====
Day 14:

On their final full day, the wives slept-in until mid-morning, ordered room service, and ate a hearty breakfast out on their terrace. They finished and headed down to the uncrowded resort’s beach, wearing tiny bikinis and matching wide brim straw hats. They swam in aqua-blue warm sea water, then laid on a large hammock under a palapa umbrella enjoying their surroundings. They relaxed and indulged in fresh cut sweet mango and cold lemonades the barman delivered to them.

The sun was fierce but an afternoon cluster of fluffy white clouds had made it more tolerable. Their senses were filled with the smell of the ocean and cocoa butter suntan lotion, the soothing sound of waves lapping on the shore, and children’s laughter. A small group of adolescent vacationers, and a family of three, flew colorful kites over the pale yellow sand near Kat and Adena.

“Ah, so sweet,” Kat commented with an honest smile. She was watching in awe as the littlest hands tugged at a kite string. The child’s mom and dad took turns helping the rainbow colored kite stay airborne.

“Yes, so adorable,” Adena replied, pushing her dark sunglasses down her nose for a better look.

Kat faced Adena and rested her elbow on top of her bent knee. “I can’t wait until that’s us with our child. I want to return here someday and fly kites, too.”

Adena smiled and nodded, “For sure, Kat. It’s a date my love.” She extended her hand out and Kat took it, pulling it upwards and kissing Kat’s fingers.

Kat swiveled over and ducked down, finding her wife’s lips for a kiss. Then reclined back to keep watching the family nearby. Only diverting her view further beyond when a school of dolphins put on a show for the beachgoers, eloquently flipping out of the water one-by-one.

There was the familiar sound of a camera shutter next to Kat. “Wow, did you see that joon!”

“OMG, yes! It couldn’t be a more perfect final day in Playa Cochal, huh Adena?”

“I’m going to miss this so much,” the artist announced, placing her Nikon inside her canvas bag that hung next to her.

Kat laced their fingers together and replied, “Life is good, babe. “I will miss this too, but we’re gonna have so many wonderful pictures to remember it all. I can’t wait to see your creations at home.”

The women faced each other and shared a loving smile. Adena cupped Kat’s cheek and pulled her face forward for a quick kiss, and Kat reciprocated.

“What time is our romantic beachside dinner scheduled for, again?”

“Seven-thirty,” Kat replied in between kisses.

“Well then, how about we go back to our bungalow and shower, rest a little.” Adena leaned back and gave Kat a big grin. “You want me to give you a head to toe massage after we clean up?”

“Mmm, yes please.” Kat smirked and quickly sat up, swinging her legs off the hammock and helping Adena collect their belongings. The lovers were soon heading up to their place, all giggles and smiles.

=====
Day 15:

It was an early morning rise and long trip to the Liberia airport by cab, as Kat and Adena had a mid-morning flight back to New York. As the plane’s wheels touched down with a piercing screech at JFK International, the wives faced each other in their seats with warm smiles. They had just spent a magical 15 days together in paradise, and they both looked forward to a lifetime of shared romance and happiness.

“I love you so much, Kat.”

“I love you too, baby.