By Shufflebum Munky
" Three-fifty, please love..."
Kelly handed the amount over to the cab driver and hauled her luggage to one side, watching disinterestedly as the man pulled away from the curb, leaving her with the task of struggling with her suitcase. Wandering down the path to Sadie's, she opened the porch door and knocked. Nothing. Perplexed as to where Sadie was, Kelly decided the Black Swan was as good a guess as any... even if Sadie wasn't actually supposed to be working. 'Hopefully it'll still be here when I get back...' she noted as she left her case in the porch, turning in the direction of the local pub...
"Hiya Kelly!" The redhead said, with far too much enthusiasm than Kelly preferred.
"Hi Geri," the blonde said, her tone carrying a hint of suspicion, "have you seen Aunt Sadie?"
"She popped over to Karen's about half an hour ago - I can call there if you like, tell her you're here..."
The blonde smiled. "Don't worry about it, I'll head over there now." The Australian made her way over the street, noting the absence of Matt's van. 'I guess they didn't get back together then.' She thought absent-mindedly, though her mood inexplicably perked up.
A knock sounded on the door of the Webb's house, interrupting the serious conversation between the occupants inside. Karen tossed an apologetic look to Sadie before raising herself from behind the kitchen table. "Sorry about this... I'll tell whoever it is to bugger off." The brunette said, continuing her trek to the front door.
"Don't worry, my darling, I suppose it was time I was making my way back home." Sadie replied, noting the time on her watch and realising that Kelly would be arriving shortly. With the sound of the front door opening and a barely audible gasp, Sadie reasoned that Kelly had probably already arrived.
Kelly smiled awkwardly while the woman opposite her stood there, transfixed, with her mouth slightly agape.
"Hi Karen, you look well..." Kelly started, bewildered as to why the petite brunette hadn't moved since opening the door.
Some moments passed before the others woman's mouth worked. "Kelly... Hi" Karen croaked out, leaning on the door for support.
"Is Aunt Sadie here?" Kelly started again, looking past Karen to see the older woman in the doorway to the kitchen.
"Yes, darling, I'll be right with you... I just need to fetch my coat." Sadie smiled slightly before turning away.
'I never thought I'd see her again...' Karen thought internally, 'Oh God, I love her...' For fear of saying something she shouldn't, the brunette barmaid opted to remain silent, glancing occasionally at the young blonde and mentally kicking herself.
"Darling, I'm so glad you've come back - you know, I really was starting to miss your presence around the place..." Sadie said while they walked the few yards to her house. The older woman made sure to arch over slightly, giving the impression her back was actually hurting.
"Me too - I was going out of my mind with worry when Geri phoned up... you really scared me!" Kelly replied, noting her Aunt's posture with worry.
"I hope I haven't been too much trouble darling - I take it Ellen was fine with you coming down here?" Sadie enquired innocently, although her eyes glinted with mischief momentarily, before the expression disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.
Kelly snorted. "I wouldn't know, Aunt Sadie, I told her where I was going a few hours before I left... Lets just say, things haven't been great this past week." The blonde debated whether to go further, but rationalised with herself that Sadie didn't need to know that Ellen was probably cheating on her...
"Oh, Kelly, I'm sorry to hear that - what's wrong exactly?" Although not wanting to see her niece hurt, the new development would definitely make their task easier, Sadie noted with some glee.
"It's, oh, I'm not even sure if I'm right..." The young Australian said more to herself than the woman beside her. "But, I just can't shake the feeling off that Ellen's not being completely honest with me."
"I think she's seeing someone else..." Although she'd been initially upset at the thought, Kelly realised that the idea wasn't hurting her as much as it should've.
Sadie didn't know how to reply. It was obvious to her that her niece needed some time alone.
'And', she thought, 'this trip is the perfect excuse for Kelly to realise who, and what, she really wants.'
Kelly raised herself from the couch, and unconsciousness, as she realised the incessant ringing was actually the telephone.
"Hello?" Her tone bordered on hostile, and belied the truth of her thoughts - 'Who the hell is ringing at - oh, 11am - fair enough.'
'Karen, shit' "Hey there stranger, how are you?" 'I really can't deal with her so early...'
"I'm, uh, fine thanks. You?" The brunette definitely didn't sound herself, Kelly realised.
"Well, I've just woken up, actually..." Kelly ran her spare hand through her short, blonde hair, straightening it out somewhat.
"Oh, sorry. I just wondered if we could meet up for lunch? I haven't seen you in so long... it'd be nice to catch up." The brunette sounded nervous.
"Sure. I'd like to see you too." 'Well, it's the truth, God, she looked great yesterday...' Kelly added silently to herself, the thought brought a smile to her face.
Lunch came and went, the two women deciding on a picnic on the common. Although both had been nervous, they'd ended up enjoying themselves, and both were disappointed when the time came to head back, but for different reasons.
'I wanted to tell her how I felt.' Karen thought as they walked along the side of the river. Kelly had looked unhappy at the start; the other woman realised, but now had a slight smile tugging at the ends of her lips. Karen too smiled, knowing she'd been the cause for Kelly's change in mood.
Karen quickly sobered up - she was going to tell Kelly tonight, she decided. 'It's gone on like this for too long... I only hope she still wants me.' The barmaid thought, running a hand over her hair.
'I've got to get back to Ellen,' the Australian realised wordlessly, 'if I stay here much longer I'm only going to make a fool of myself again - Karen doesn't want me.'
"Are you doing anything tonight?" The brunette's question broke through the pleasant silence they'd been sharing.
"Not that I know of, why?"
"Here's what I was thinking..." Karen said, taking Kelly's arm...
The blonde sat back, resting her cutlery on the clear plate. "Karen... that was delicious." She complimented, patting her stomach slightly to indicate. The brunette barmaid tried to wave off the praise for her cooking skills, and offered dessert.
"It's chocolate..." She said as one more incentive.
"Karen, I couldn't possibly eat another thing. Unless you want to clean me off your kitchen floor, that is." Kelly said, smirking.
"Second thoughts, maybe not then..." The brunette paused, finding the right words. "I need to tell you something."
When Karen didn't continue, Kelly looked up from the table and touched the other woman's shoulder briefly. "Well, don't keep me in suspense!" She joked, trying to ease some of the tension.
Karen gulped. "Okay, the thing is..."
A few seconds passed. "Yes?" Kelly enquired gently, wondering what the other woman was so nervous about.
"I love you, Kelly." Karen said, finally feeling the release she'd been anticipating since realising what her feelings for the younger woman meant. Kelly's smile faltered, and she moved back, putting some distance between them. She stayed silent for a few moments, before uttering the only phrase that the brunette had been dreading; "It's too late, Karen, you know it is."
Karen's relaxed pose dissipated, and to her horror, the brunette felt the first drops of tears sliding down her cheeks. "Why?" Her reply sounded small and pathetic, even to her.
"I'm with Ellen now... I love her. I don't... I'm not in love with you anymore." It was a lie, she knew, but Karen didn't know what she was saying, couldn't realise the impact they'd have later on. Karen and Matt would soon sort out whatever had happened between them, Kelly was certain of it, and Kelly wasn't going to be hurt, not again, and not by Karen. Moving quickly she exited the house, once again leaving behind the only woman she'd ever really loved... except this time, that woman loved her too.
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