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By Demeter


They walk along the beach when the day is dawning, no one else around but a few scattered joggers in the distance, the sounds of the waves and the seagulls loud over their silence. It turned out that it wasn't so easy to find her after all; it took a PI and several paychecks written with feverish anticipation and a guilty conscience.

They'll go from there; she is confident now even though the other woman didn't seem so happy to be sought out.

Then again, she has agreed to come here. It's a start.

She wants to take her hand, to touch her, wants it badly but she stops herself, knowing she can't risk to fail another time. She can't stop looking at her though, so happy and grateful that they are finally here, together.

Eventually, her companion gives in, looking back at her. Her expression is somewhere in between wistful and resigned. There's a bit of defiance too. "How's the family? You didn't tell them, right?"

"Not yet," she admits, mortified about it because her reasoning is so obvious. Playing it safe like she always has. Only that this time, what is on her mind and if it's really going to happen, it's going to be all but safe. She knows, believes it that it's going to be worth it.

"Good. I'm not sure I'm ready to be the homewrecking bitch."

"You're not-- You know that I'm serious about this – us. Right?"

Now the smile becomes pained; the other woman turns away. A faint cold fear is teasing her mind, that no matter what twists of fate and detecting skills of the agency she'd hired were helpful in bringing them together again, this could be the end of the road. She refuses to acknowledge it; denial is something she has perfected over time after all.

"We've had a good time together. I had this huge crush on you, but that was sixteen years ago."

"I know how long ago it was," she says defensively.

"And it was hard but eventually... I got over you."

She simply refuses to believe that, because it can't be; this cannot happen after all the years and miles and wondering whether she was losing her mind or had maybe never had any idea what love was all about anyway. "Are you with someone?" she asks, barely able to hear her own voice over the loudness of her own heartbeat.

A weary shrug. "Weren't we always with someone? Look..." She pauses, searching for words. Finally they come. "I know we said we'd play it casual. What else could there be when you had your family already? It wasn't that casual to me. I was in love with you. But that was then. Let me tell you, life is good without the pain."

I'm sorry, she wants to say, but guiltily realizes that she isn't. Pain means that you care. "Why are you here?" she asks softly, the deer-in-the-headlights look on the other women's face telling her just about everything. It's her turn now, to take that step over the slope and let herself fall. "It will be different this time," she promises to both of them. I'm going to tell them." How, she doesn't know yet.

"Don't make promises you can't keep. What about the kids?"

"Both in college now," she says as if that justifies everything. "I'm always going to be there for them."

Life is ironic, she thinks. If she'd met her a long time ago... but then again, no. She'd always known that she wanted a life exactly the way it is now, a good marriage, children. She just never considered any detours. And maybe she's just delusional, wanting to make a decision that's out of her hands really, but she can't not try. She can't be a coward now.

She raises her hand to the other woman's face, cupping her cheek gently, leaning forward. Giving her time to run. She doesn't. "Don't." The protest is only half-hearted as she meets her halfway for a fervent desperate kiss. Time and distance couldn't negate this magnetism between them. The realization reassures and scares her at the same time.

Once upon a time she used to think of love as something safe and comforting. This love is burning her alive. When they part, she whispers, "Is that how you got over me?" and there isn't a hint of spite.

This was the hardest part, but now there's confirmation. All else will be easy in comparison.

The End

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