"I don't want to do this anymore."
"What do you mean?"
"Brenda, I am not some kind of toy you can just pick up or throw away whenever you feel like it."
Sharon heaved a sigh and looked at the blonde woman standing in her kitchen. Brenda had walked in fifteen minutes earlier, having used the spare key Sharon had given her only the week before. She'd shrugged herself out of that hideous pink trench coat and had snuck up on Sharon as she slept on the couch and kissed her. Brenda's roaming hands made it quite clear why she was here but Sharon had backed away.
And now they found themselves standing in Sharon's kitchen, anger crackling in the air between them. Sharon had promised herself she would have this conversation with Brenda, even if the younger woman didn't want to have it with her. She had to say it.
"Sharon, you know that's not how I feel!" Brenda objected.
"Isn't it?" Sharon retorted. She was surprised at her own anger, at how easily it came to the surface. The wounds she thought had healed after everything Jack had done to her had not healed as much as she'd thought. Her eyes found Brenda's.
"Did you tell your husband where you were going tonight?"
Brenda's face fell and Sharon knew enough.
"I didn't think so."
"That's not fair!" Brenda protested.
"And cheating on your husband is?" Sharon exclaimed and she watched the way Brenda's eyes widened. "Is coming over here whenever you want to get laid fair on me? Have you ever actually stopped to think about who ends up getting hurt in all of this?"
All the emotions that had been building up inside Sharon in recent weeks suddenly came pouring out. What had started out as a moment of passion had turned into a full blown affair that saw them seeking out each other's company at every available opportunity. But now, a few weeks into this madness, the dust had begun to settle and Sharon could finally see clearly. What she and Brenda were doing... It carries risks. Too many risks. It carried consequences. And it would inevitably end with someone getting hurt.
"You're not the only one who has something to lose here, Sharon."
"This has to end, Brenda. I can't do this anymore. I don't want to be your dirty little secret. I spent too much of my life not being important enough to be someone's first choice. I refuse to make that mistake again."
Brenda stared at the brunette woman. Sharon had the uncanny ability of getting under her skin. It had been what drew her to the older woman in the first place and over time it had just evolved into something... Different.
"So you're sayin' we're over?" Brenda asked, a tremor of hurt echoing in her voice. She bit down on her lip, hard. She tasted the first drops of blood on the tip of her tongue.
Sharon turned away. She couldn't look at Brenda any longer but she still felt her eyes burn into her back. "We were never anything to begin with."
Brenda swallowed. The tears stung behind her eyes. "So all of this..." She gestured around the kitchen. "All the nights when you asked me to come over, the fact you gave me a key to your front door..." She paused. Bitterness settled in her chest and she remembered a moment from only a few nights ago. They had been wrapped up in each other's arms, surrounded by the darkness of Sharon's bedroom.
"You told me you love me."
"I don't love you."
Sharon kept her back turned to Brenda. She couldn't look at her. If she did, she knew she would fall apart.
"So you lied?" Brenda asked softly.
When Sharon didn't acknowledge her, Brenda took the wineglass that stood in front of her and poured its content down the sink. She then grabbed her keys and her purse and shot a final glance in Sharon's direction. Tears glistened in her eyes but she was too angry to allow herself to cry in front of Sharon.
"How dare you be so self-righteous? It's not like I am the only one involved in this. You are just as guilty as I am."
"I'm not the one doing the cheating, Brenda. You are." Sharon slowly turned around. "That's what you do, isn't it? You sneak around behind people's backs. It's what you've always done. Anything to avoid taking responsibility for your own actions. You just move on when you're done. You know, I am actually surprised it took this long for someone to try and wrap a lawsuit around your neck!"
Brenda stared at Sharon in disbelief and Sharon only realized what she'd said, how it had sounded, when she saw the tears falling from Brenda's eyes.
"So you're sayin' I deserve this?" Brenda's lips formed a thin line. "You think that having my life ripped apart is somethin' I had comin'?"
Sharon knew she'd gone too far.
"No," she quietly said. She wanted to take it back, all of it. Say something different. Say nothing at all. "Brenda, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."
Brenda didn't wait to hear the rest of that sentence. She left the kitchen and walked through the living room to the front door. She yanked it open and stepped out into the corridor. She was about to walk away when she felt Sharon's hand on her shoulder.
"For what?" the blonde snapped. Her brown eyes were ablaze with anger. "To hear you say again that you don't love me? I heard you the first time, Sharon."
She took Sharon's hand, pushed something in it and turned around. She didn't speak.
Brenda didn't take the elevator, choosing to make her way down the stairs instead. The sound of her high heels against the concrete steps bounced off the walls of the stairway. The noise carried on long after she'd left. She didn't look back.
When Sharon looked down she saw the silver metal key to her front door lying in the palm of her hand.