DISCLAIMER: In this story, there are scenes, bits of scenes, and dialogue taken from Season 2 and 3 of The L Word that both move the story along and explain events that unfolded. At the end of each chapter, I will identify what parts are directly from the television version. Dialogue from Season 3—particularly one entire scene, references to Seasons 1, 2, and 3.
SPOILERS: Spoilers for The L Word Seasons 2 and 3.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Laid Up: Another Season 3
By Portia Richardson


Chapter Twelve

The next morning (Five weeks and three days after Angelica's birth)

Bette had received an early morning phone call from her friend, Julia Lord. The Senate Hearing had been moved up to four o'clock that afternoon instead of the following morning. Due to widespread, multi-state tornado damage, several Senators on the committee would be returning to their home states, but were willing to stay for the hearing if it were moved up. Bette had thought she could easily pull out of her promise to speak in Julia's place, but she couldn't. Julia still expected her to be there and she was going to make it easier by chartering a corporate plane to take Bette.

At 6:30, Bette had said goodbye to Angelica and was driven by Julia's car service to the Center where Tina was currently living. When she arrived, Tina was awake and staring up at the lights that Bette had strung above the bed and down the window and door frame.

"Hi, Tee."

Tina turned to the door and smiled at Bette. "Hi. . . Beh." She looked lower and didn't see the stroller. Her eyes met Bette's again in question.

"Angelica's with your mom. She'll be coming by later."

"Beh. . . "Whuh. . . hah. . . peh?" Tina asked looking down at her own body in the hospital bed.

Bette sighed. Tina was out of the coma, so she didn't understand her lapse in memory about things that had been explained numerous times. She wondered if the medication Tina was on had something to do with it and made a note to herself to speak with McPherson about it when she returned. "When you went into labor, you got very sick. You had an infection. We're not sure what caused it, but we're looking into it. Then there wasn't enough oxygen getting to your brain, and you fell into a coma. "You were in a coma for over a month, but you've been back with us for about eight days. You were lucky, Tee. The infection could have been a lot worse."

Tina nodded.

"Do you remember we talked about this yesterday?"

"Ri. . . ight." Tina had a vague recollection of it. She had thought that was a dream, though. She thought she had dreamed she was in a coma.

Bette could hear the impatience in her voice. She didn't want to be like that. Tina had been through so much and Dr. McPherson had warned her that she might find it difficult to accept Tina's slow recovery. It was just that Bette believed in Tina and knew what she was capable of. Tina, she expected would have a speedy recovery, but instead, Tina was taking small steps. It was Bette who needed to curb her need for immediate results. Bette thought about her dream of last night and the conversation she had had with her father. He had said that Buddhism was a good philosophy for her if she could grasp and follow its tenets. That was so true. Bette was on one hand, methodical, but she also made decisions quickly, flew off the handle easily, strove for both success and control with equal intensity. These were all things a good Buddhist wouldn't do. In her heart, she knew that these were lessons she had to learn to make her a better person and more loving mother and spouse. She rolled her eyes, angry with herself for such a base response of irritation at Tina. She wished that she could grab that sigh she had uttered before answering Tina's question back from the ether. She wished that she hadn't asked that overtly critical question 'do you remember we talked about this yesterday' of her lover. She had to learn patience and tolerance; she had to learn how to surrender to life. After this trip to Washington and when Tina was better, she'd look into a monastic retreat or weekend meditation course. If Tina could work hard at getting better physically, it was high time that she worked hard at getting better emotionally.

"Beh. . . what wron. . .ba-by?"

Bette stepped out of her thoughts and back into the room. "Nothing." She shook her head. "Baby, everything's fucked up. I don't want to go to Washington, but it's imperative. This is an important issue and I have an obligation to do what I can to change the course of federal funding for all creative projects. I won't be away long. I'll be here in the morning. Are you okay with me leaving?"


"You'll see Angelica later this morning and you have your swimming class today." Bette pulled pages of notes from her purse and looked them over. "I don't think you'll have time to think about me. You've got two speech therapy sessions, music therapy, and then Doug Jenkins is going to work with you in the exercise/weight room doing physical therapy." Bette was reading off the list of activities.


Bette looked up. "Yeah, Tee?"

"Ah you go fu Bah-ra Gi-shm?" Tina struggled through her question.

Bette was unable to decipher Tina's slowly slurred words and leaned in closer as she shook her head again. "Baby, I didn't understand. One more time."

Tina shook her head and turned away from Bette feeling like Bette might very well betray her again. Tina had become convinced by Stephanie that Bette would have sex while she was in Washington with the dyke Senator. A tear fell from her eye.

"Tina? Tee?" When Tina didn't turn back, Bette walked around the bed to the other side. She bent down to talk to her. "Tina? Baby? I'm sorry, I'm leaving, but it's only for a day. I'll be back in no time." This didn't seem to make Tina any happier. Bette brushed the hair from Tina's eyes. "I don't even want to go. I couldn't get out of it. Know this—I will be thinking about you every second. You're who I want to be with, Tina."

Tina looked at Bette and smiled. Whatever had upset her had dissipated. "Me, too," she said slowly, but clearly.

Bette sucked her lips into her mouth and bit down. She straightened up and looked at her lover and inhaled. She wanted both of them to feel secure and hopeful about their relationship and she'd do everything she could to provide those feelings for Tina. "I love you. You take care of yourself while I'm gone. Follow Dr. McPherson's orders. I don't want to hear about you heading up a mutiny of patients. Every day you're getting so much better. You'll be coming home soon."

"Oh – kay."

"Tina, your mom has my itinerary, but I'm going to leave a copy here for you. If you need me, you can have anyone contact my cell. I'm on a private plane. This is when I'll be back." Bette pointed at the time of arrival the next day. "I wish you were well and could come with me. I know how much you love politics and as I recall you have a little thing for Senator Grisham." Bette grinned at her. "All of that power turns you on, huh?"

Tina smiled.

"I'm sorry you won't be able to meet her--some other time, maybe." Bette put the itinerary on Tina's beside table and then stuffed Dr. McPherson's notes back in her purse. "I wonder if I'll get to see her abstract expressionists paintings. I hear she has an incredible collection." Bette stood beside Tina's bed and looked down at her. "I'll miss you."

Tina stared up at her and said nothing.

Bette thought that perhaps Tina hadn't heard, so she repeated it, "I'll miss you."

Tina blinked once and said slowly, "I miss you, too."

"Mother fucker!" Alice said in response to the phone ringing. "What the fuck time is it?"

Dana's eyes blinked open and she watched Alice rub her eyes and then glare at the phone. She laughed. "You wake up with so much enthusiasm," Dana said as she reached for the phone.

"Shit, it's seven o'clock. Who's calling now?" Alice bitched.

"Hello," Dana said into the phone.

"Dana, it's your mother," the voice on the other end said.

Dana sat up. "Hi, Mom. Is anything wrong? Why are you calling so early?"

Alice looked over at Dana with concern.

"Nothing's wrong. I expected to get your voicemail. I thought you'd be out on your run and then to practice. Are you just about to leave?"

"I'm still in bed."

"Still in bed?" her mother couldn't believe it. "Dana, it's seven. It's important that you keep to the schedule you've had. For years, it's worked well for you," Sharon Fairbanks scolded.

"I know, Mom. I'm just getting a late start."

"Why so late?" her mother pried.

"Uh. . . Alice and I. . . ."

"Alice?" she interrupted. "Don't tell me you're with Alice again? Dana, if you want to go through this phase of yours, fine, but I'd appreciate it if you could settle on one person. Now, tell me how long is this Alice Part 2 going to last?" Dana's mother shouted loud enough into the phone that Alice could hear what she was saying.

Alice was furious. How dare she trivialize their relationship?

"Mom, Alice means more to me than Tonya ever did," she said with justified indignation.

"You planned on marrying Tonya. Don't tell me you're planning another engagement and marriage to this woman."

"You know, Alice, mother. Please call her by her name."

"You plan on marrying Alice, now?"

Dana looked at Alice who was seated cross-legged in her bed. "Not yet. We're going to take it slow, but I guess, we could do that."

Alice grinned and scooted next to Dana. Alice leaned in and sucked on Dana's neck.



"Cramp in my leg."

"Are you taking your vitamins? You shouldn't be cramping up, Dana."

Alice lifted Dana's arm and began to lick her armpit. "Oh, God," Dana looked at Alice with a plea in her eye—to either stop or keep doing what she was doing. Alice took the plea as a request for more. She moved down the bed and licked Dana's side, the outer edge of her breast, down to her waist, and then she bit the flesh at her hip. "Jesus."

"Can you rub it, Dana?" her mother asked.

"I'd rub it if I could reach it," Dana said as she reached for Alice's breast with a huge grin on her face.

Alice moved back up the bed and knelt beside Dana offering her breast to her. Dana shook her head and turned away. "You've got to keep up your training. You've worked so hard to get where you are. There is no reason that you shouldn't take all of the next set of tourneys," Mrs. Fairbanks said. Alice grasped Dana's chin and turned her so that Dana's mouth was directly in front of her breast. Dana shook her head again and mouthed, "I'm talking to my mother."

"You started it," Alice mouthed back, but she nodded and lay down next to her. "Dana, don't you have anything to say?" her mom asked.

"Yeah, I should, I guess, take each tournament."

"Well, I don't see that happening if you don't focus on your training," Mrs. Fairbanks answered. Alice, instead of waiting patiently for the phone call to end, covered Dana's breast with her lips. Dana's eyes widened in surprise and she pushed Alice's head away and covered her breast with her hand. Alice shrugged, then got back on her knees. She lifted her own breast and pushed it against Dana's mouth. Dana's lips snapped closed.

"I know, Mom. I really have to focus on what needs to be done," Dana muttered between barely parted lips

"Have you been listening to those motivational CDs your father sent to you?"

Alice used her fingers to pry Dana's closed mouth open. Dana flung her head from side to side trying to stop Alice, but her lover was determined.


"Yes, yes, I've been listening to them." Alice lifted her breast again and pushed it against Dana's mouth. Dana finally conceded and encircled Alice's nipple with her lips, then gave it a quick kiss, and looked at Alice as if to say, 'happy now?'

"They should really be helping you. Those CDs have really helped your father's golf game. He's been able to focus, concentrate on his goal, and pull all that he can from it. . . ." Alice licked her forefingers, wetting them with her tongue, and then she circled her hardening nipples while staring directly at Dana.

Dana swallowed. "Mom, why did you call?" she said shakily.

"The Orange County Republican Women's group is having a fundraiser and I want you to participate."

"I'm not a Republican, mother." Dana stared at Alice as Alice moved from her nipples to rubbing her breasts and sliding her hands up and down her body.

"I really wish you wouldn't rebel so against the family. We've been Republicans for generations. Anyway, the fundraiser is for the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Orange County. We're raising money for the Cure. The group, along with other Orange County women's organizations is having a silent auction and we're lining up celebrity types."

"Yeah, what does that have to do with me?" Dana couldn't hold back. She reached out for Alice pulling her into her lap and palming her breasts, moving from one to another. She sighed into the phone when Alice's eyes rolled back and closed as she arched into Dana's hand.

"You're a celebrity type, Dana." Mrs. Fairbanks stated. "We want you and the others as auction prizes—people bid for an evening with you."

"Oh, no way, Mom. No way. I'm totally not going to do that. It's demeaning. It's stupid. It's. . ." Dana squeezed Alice's breasts.

"It most certainly is not stupid. These types of auction bring in big dollars. It's next week, right after the Proctor and Gamble tournament. I've checked your schedule, so I know you'll be in town. This is important to me, Dana."

"I don't want to waste my evening with some guy talking about his stock options or whatever," Dana said while Alice took her hand and moved it between her legs.

"It's possible that a woman could have the highest bid. Will you agree? The ladies are counting on you."

Dana licked her lips when she felt the heat and damp of Alice. She sighed and stared into Alice's eyes. "I'll do it. Mom, I've gotta leave for my fun. . . I mean, run. I gotta go." She hung up the phone and looked at Alice. "I was on the phone with my mother!"

"And you're in bed with your lover. Don't I take priority, sweetie?" Alice asked innocently.

"Yeah, priority," Dana responded as she spread Alice's legs, moved on top of her, and inserted her strong, athletic, tennis-playing thigh against that heat she had just touched with her fingers. Alice arched up and back, pressing against that thigh.

"Oh, that's nice."

"For someone who hates the morning, you know how to make the most of it." Dana bent and kissed her, feeling Alice's thigh move against her gaping labia.

It was seven in the morning and Kit, sleeping on her left side was slowly awakening. Since she became the owner of The Planet, her life had changed drastically. During the height of her singing career, if her eyes were open at seven a.m., that meant she hadn't been to sleep all night. Now, seven meant she needed to get up and get started with her day. Her delivery guys showed up at the café from eight to eleven—the baker's truck with all of the muffins, baguettes, whole grain sandwich bread, and soup boules arrived first, next, the produce truck with all of the fresh vegetables and fruits for the day showed up. The final deliveries for the day were the meat and seafood people. (Soon, she'd have to find a pastry and dessert company to fill the void that Lara was leaving. Lara was an excellent baker and dessert chef. She hated to see her go, but understood why she needed to leave). While deliveries were being made, Kit also planned her specials for the day, counted out the monies for the starter drawers for both registers, and inspected the entire restaurant—restrooms, kitchen/prep areas, behind the counters, and the tables.

It was seven and she should have been crawling out of bed and into the shower, but she was being pulled back, a force stronger than herself kept her in the warmth of her bed. Angus had his arm around Kit's waist, spooning against her. She patted his hand. "Angus. I need to get up." Kit yawned.

He mumbled, "Not yet. Just a little longer and we'll both get up."

True, Kit was exhausted. She could use at least another fifteen after last night's lovemaking. God, she thought, these young men have so much energy. . . and he's no young trainee—he knows just what to do.

"Angus, I have to get ready for work."

Instead of Angus agreeing to that, his hand moved from her waist to grasp her left breast. Kit's nipple instantly hardened and her eyes closed as his hand gently moved over it. "Mmmm," she voiced softly. Angus' hand moved across and up to give the same treatment to her right breast. His entire hand encircled her large, firm breasts and he groaned hearing her gasp when he rolled her nipple between his finger and thumb. Kit felt Angus' hard-on bump against her ass and she turned onto her back. "As good as all this feels, I can't. I've got to get up."

Angus seemed to have either lost his sense of hearing or his ability to comprehend what was being said, because his hips were moving against the side of her body while his hand moved down her body.

"Sugah, I'm sore. I can't take any more of you. Please." Kit was sincere. She was tender and she knew she was going to have a hard time walking today. Last night it had felt so good, too good, just right, but she was going to pay for it today. She didn't think she'd be able to manage a young man who woke up erect and ready every morning.

"I won't go inside," he whispered into her ear. His hand moved between her legs and he opened her up to find her more than ready for love. Gently, his fingers stroked her. Kit sighed. This is why she loved musicians, especially guitarists. His fingers plucked and strummed her like the strings of his guitar. "Angus, please," she said quietly.

"I told you I couldn't wait to hear you say that to me and you did so many times last night and now, again." He loved how her body moved into him. "Oh, Kit."

Kit's body arched as she moved to the sensations he was creating. He bent and pulled as much of her breast as he could into his mouth while he continued to finger her. She was so wet, that his fingers were sliding off, then finding their way back to rub up and down her vulva and flick across her hard clit. "Oh, Angus, yes. Yes, honey."

Her chest was heaving as his hand moved faster between her legs. Angus stared into her eyes, watching her pleasure wash over her face. "Kit, you feel scrumptious."

Her recent diagnosis of menopause had evidently not caused the typical dryness that she had read about in the brochure her doctor had given her. She could feel her juices against her inner thighs, she could feel how Angus' fingers were sliding into all of the wetness. "Oh, Angus. Angus." Kit whispered. "Angus. Oh, oh, oh." Her eyes narrowed and her mouth froze in a small circle as she hissed out her climax, her body lifting and her hand reaching out to grasp his wrist, holding him in place as she came against his fingers.

It took her a while to recover. She was panting and staring blankly at the ceiling and so was he, but the sheet over him was pointing up like a teepee just below his waist. She looked over at it and then turned to smile at him as her hand slipped under the sheet to reach for his dick.

"No, no, that's okay."

"Angus, I want to." Kit thought it was proper sex etiquette to reciprocate.

"No. Sometimes, I just like to spend time this way. Let me just hold you."

"But Angus. . ."

"Really, it's good to wait." He turned on his side and the tip of his penis pushed against her leg. "It feels awesome to go through the day knowing how much I want it. I'll stay a little hard all day thinking about you and last night and this morning."

"I don't want you in no pain."

"Oh, I won't be. It'll be all pleasure. . . that is if I can see you tonight?"

"Yeah, I wanna see you. I know it's a mistake, but I'm all about gettin' me some Angus."

"This is no mistake."

"Well," she turned to say softly in his ear, "I'll stay just a little wet all day thinking about you."

About four and a half hours later, Helena was packing up her notes and Blackberry to leave her office for a lunch meeting with Hank Azaria who was shopping a romantic-comedy. Her private line rang. She looked at the caller I.D. and saw that it was her attorney, Whit. Helena pushed the open button. "Hello, Whit," she said leaning back in her chair. "I have an appointment to get off to in about five minutes. What can I do for you?"

"Helena, I've been looking into the insurance issue for Bette Porter. I believe we've worked something out with the insurance company and the vast majority of Ms. Kennard's treatments and therapies will be covered."

"Brilliant. I knew you could do it, Whit."

"Unfortunately, we have a much larger problem."

"What's that?"

"It appears that Tina Kennard's family has filed an injunction at the City of Los Angeles courthouse."

"An injunction? What do you mean?"

An injunction against Bette Porter as the Medical and Legal Power of Attorney."

"What? Why?"

"Apparently, Helena, they believe that Ms. Porter is not doing all that she should and could on her partner's behalf. Moreover, they believe that if Ms. Kennard were mentally able to express her true desires, she would want her biological family to make decisions regarding her healthcare or any legal issues arising from her current circumstance."

"That's absurd."

"As Ms. Porter's attorney of record, I have been contacted by D. Randolph McGhee, the Kennards' attorney. I've looked over the paperwork and have called in a favor or two to have this resolved quickly. I've arranged for a review in Family Court at the end of the week. Is it your wish that I represent Ms. Porter?"

"Yes, certainly. I trust you implicitly. I want Bette and Tina to have the best and you are that, Whit. Thank you."

"Where we stand now—Ms. Porter has temporarily been removed as legal and Medical Power of Attorney. The Court has appointed the State as guardian of Ms. Kennard and for now, the State will be making decisions on her behalf."

Helena's jaw dropped. "Does Bette know?"

"No, but she will soon. I've been told by their lawyer that Ms. Porter is in Washington, DC and that she will be served upon her return. Oh, and Helena, you're being subpoenaed as well."

"Of course. I'll speak for Bette."

"No, you're being subpoenaed by the Kennards."

"I don't understand."

"You were in a relationship with Tina less than two months ago. I am presuming that their theory is that Ms. Kennard couldn't possibly perceive Ms. Porter as her partner or someone to act as her Power of Attorney since she was actively involved with you for several months and it only ended days before her illness."

"She always belonged to Bette and Bette to her," Helena said sadly. She had tried hard with Tina, but it had been both an uphill climb and a fight for love she could never win.

"Hopefully, you'll get an opportunity to say that on the Stand."

"This is mad. What are these people thinking?" Helena wondered aloud.

"They believe they know what is best. I'd like to meet with you tonight or tomorrow to speak with you about people and information that might help our case—their friends, their marriage-like relationship, their child."

Helena pulled out her Blackberry and read through her schedule. "I can see you tonight."

"Shall I drive out to Malibu?"

"Let's say, eight, Whit. I appreciate your willingness to take this on."

"I'm happy to do it for you and the Peabodys." Whit hesitated. "I'll draw up a motion to dismiss. See if I can make a deal with these people or make them go away."

"Thank you." Helena disconnected and stared into space. She wondered if she could reach Bette.

Bette was seated before the Senate sub-committee and was reading through her testimony prior to the opening of the session. Senator Horsey needed to get things started and Senator Grisham was still a no-show. He had a plane to catch as soon as this hearing ended, so he was unwilling to wait another minute. He introduced Bette as Julia Lord and Bette corrected him.

Stephanie and Theresa Kennard sat in Tina's room at the Center with C-Span 2 tuned in on the television. Theresa sat next to Tina who sat up in her hospital bed and Stephanie sat in one of the vinyl chairs across the room.

"My God, he's a Senator. She doesn't need to embarrass him in front of his peers. That's just tacky."

Senator Grisham, who felt it was so important that Julia Lord's voice via Bette Porter be heard hadn't shown up to the hearing on time. When she did enter the room, her arrival had halted the Hearing just as it was getting underway. Senator Horsey referred to Bette as 'Ms. Lord' again and Bette corrected him once more.

"She is so damn arrogant."

"The name has to be right for the Congressional Record, Stephanie," Theresa explained in her soft southern accent.

"Any excuse."

Theresa ignored Stephanie and looked over at Tina who was mesmerized by Bette on television. "She looks beautiful, doesn't she, honey?"

"Beau-ful." Tina said almost to herself.

The Kennards listened to Bette make her way through her speech. A few times Theresa applauded Bette's words. Tina smiled throughout the talk. Just as it was ending, Bette seemed to lose her concentration and place in her speech.

"I'd get lost too if someone was undressing me the way Barbara Grisham is undressing her."

"She is not. The Senator's actually paying attention to what is being said."

"No, she's trying to figure out how she'll get her in bed tonight."

Tina looked at Stephanie, licked her lips, and groaned out her disapproval of her sister's comment.

Theresa patted Tina's hand. "Your sister has her head up her ass. Don't you worry about it."

"Jesus, look at her. Bette just snatched the photograph of that filthy art out of Senator Horsey's hands. That woman is out of control."

"He's set it on fire. She's stampin' it out. God, Stephanie do you see what the rest of the world sees or is your brain not functionin' properly? That man is a fool, a pompous ass, a grandstander, and you think Bette should treat him with respect?"

Stephanie blew air out of her mouth and turned in her chair, leaning on one cheek, as she stared at the TV. Bette lectured Senator Horsey and the entire sub-committee live on C-SPAN 2. "You know what you are? You're-you're just the latest reigning, vigilante, self-appointed cultural watchdogs of the moment. Devoting countless hours and enviable resources to this bogus mission of stifling creative. . . ."

"Oh, oh. There she goes. Grisham likes what she sees. She can't take her eyes off of her." Stephanie stared at the screen. "That is nothing but lust."

Tina watched Bette storm out of the room. Theresa rose to turn off the television.

"What did I tell you? Look who's following right behind her--following that scent. Senator Grisham, hot on the trail."

Theresa grabbed the remote from the table and snapped the power off. When she turned to Tina, her daughter looked unsettled, worried, and concerned.

Shane was sitting on the sofa watching television or rather staring at a television that wasn't on. She was sitting there in her white boy shorts and a white 'wife beater' and her mind seemed a million miles away. Carmen unlocked the front door and strolled in carrying two large paper bags. Carmen looked a little worse for wear from the heat and the long drive from East LA. She was wearing her cut-off jean shorts and a small white T-shirt with 20 images of Frida Kahlo's various self-portraits silk-screened onto it.

"Hey, babe," Carmen said. "What's goin' on?"

"Nothin'. Just sittin' here," Shane answered flatly without looking at Carmen.

"I went over to my Mom's. She gave me a ton of food, helped her cook a little of it. And on the way back, I remembered to stop at El Gallo. That's the place that sells the rolls you like. Right?"

"Yeah, I guess."

Carmen sat the two bags on the coffee table and took a seat in the chair across from Shane. "Is something wrong? Have you heard from Mark or somethin'?"

Shane looked up at her, but didn't say anything for a few moments. Finally, she shook her head and said, "No, haven't heard from him or anyone. It's been quiet."

"You seem kinda depressed or pissed or. . . " Carmen sat back and visually examined Shane, trying to detect the differences in her demeanor and put some sort of explanation to them. "Shane, what is it?"

"You went to your Mom's, huh?"

"Yeah," Carmen's eyes narrowed as she tried to figure out what was happening with her lover.

"Okay. Cool."

"I told you I was going there."

"No, you left me a note that said you were going there."

"Yeah, same difference."

"Not really."

"Sure. What do you mean?" Carmen sat up, leaned forward and watched Shane who seemed to be trying to control some fury that was building rapidly.

"When did you decide to go to your Mother's place?"

Carmen shook her head nonchalantly. "I don't know." She shrugged. "Last night. This morning. I do go see her, ya know."

Shane cleared her throat, steepled her fingers together in front of her face, her thumbs resting under her chin, her lips touching her fingers. She moved her hands, placing them in her lap. "I just think it's strange that yesterday, you didn't get to do what you always do. . . ." Shane began.


"You know, take someone to Maritza's house, then send them to the car while you fuck her or she fucks you. We left. I guess you needed to go over there today and keep with tradition."

"Are you crazy?"


"Yeah, baby, you are. You think I drove over to Maritza's to get laid? That is absolutely. . . . You're loca."

"You went to your Mom's?" Shane said dispassionately.

"Yeah. Hung out with Moms, talked to my sister. Some of my friends from the 'hood were around, so I talked to them a while. Made some food, got in the car, drove to the Mexican bakery, and came home to you."

"And what about Maritza?"

"What about her, Shane?"

"You told me that sex story for a reason."

Carmen threw her hands up. "I don't know why I told you. I see that I shouldn't've. Do you think 'ritza could ever do for me what you do?"

"I don't know. You said it was amazing with her, that she knew how to do you."

"So? You know, you fuck me better than anybody I've ever been with." Carmen stood up and walked around the coffee table to sit next to Shane. Her hand ran up Shane's naked leg, settling on the top of her thigh. "You've gotta know I don't want her screwin' me, baby."

Shane turned away, but Carmen reached for her jaw and swung her face back around to look at her. "It's okay. Forget it."

"No way. You know it, don't you?"


Carmen bent forward and kissed her on her lips, but Shane didn't return the kiss.

"Shane! I only want you fucking me."

"Uh-huh. What about you fucking her? Did you go over there and do her?"

"Oh, my God." Carmen's eyes went huge and they rolled around in her head in disbelief. "You've got to be. . . ." Carmen was incredulous. "Shane!"


"I have no interest in fucking Maritza. When it comes to having my fingers inside a woman's twat. . . ." She stared at Shane. "The only twat I want to be in. . . ." Carmen moved her hand from the top of Shane's thigh to her inner thigh and started to circle the soft flesh there. ". . . is the twat that belongs to this skinny, sexy, hair stylist named McCutcheon, first name, Shane." Carmen pushed Shane's back against the sofa and pressed her body against Shane's side as she kissed her lips and neck. "No Maritza twat, no Josefina twat, no Ana, no. . ." Carmen ran her forefinger between Shane's legs, running up the very center of her underwear and Shane inhaled. ". . .Yvonne twat." Carmen pulled the elastic waistband of Shane's underwear up and slipped her hand inside. "No Maria twat." Carmen slipped her fingers between Shane's swollen labia and her eyes closed when she felt how wet Shane was. "I don't want Angela's twat and I don't want any of Sarah or Erica or anyone else, baby. This is what I want."

Shane lifted her ass and started to pull off her boy briefs. Carmen helped her, getting the shorts down and Shane comfortably situated on the sofa. "Shane, mija, I don't want to fuck anybody but you." There was no foreplay this afternoon. Carmen pushed four fingers into her and Shane gasped.

"Will you fuck me hard?"

Instead of answering, Carmen just started doing it. She pushed those four fingers deep inside, twisted them, pulled out, then back in, even deeper, out a little, but this time, she added her thumb. Carmen's dark hair hang down, falling onto Shane's tank top covered abdomen. She went in deeper. "You like it."


"You want it from me?"

"Oh, yeah."

"You like what I'm doin', baby."

"Oh, God, Carmen. Yes."

Carmen was on her knees between Shane's legs. Shane had one leg up on the back of the sofa and the other foot barely on the edge of the front of the sofa, her knees were bent and Carmen was pushing harder and harder into her. Shane loved the feeling.

"I've got my whole hand inside you, Shane. And you're so tight. . . ."

Suddenly, Shane grabbed Carmen's hand. Her voice was quivering when she said, "Stop. Oh, God, Carm. Stop."

Carmen could hear the urgency in Shane's voice. "What? What is it?"

"Take your hand out."

Carmen slipped out of her. "Was it too much? Was I hurting you?"

Shane's eyes were watering and she sat up and squeezed her legs together. "Could-could you go to the bathroom and run the water? I need. . ." Carmen stood up and stared at Shane, unsure of what had happened.

"Shane, what's wrong?"

"Carm-oh, God. When you were at your Mom's, did you handle any chiles, any peppers?"

"Yeah, we made salsa and some hot sauce that is way better than Cholu. . . Oh, God. I washed my hands, Shane. For like 10 minutes before I left. Are you on fire?"

"Yeah. Shit. It burns like crazy." Tears ran down her face.

Carmen ran to the bathroom and Shane could hear the water go on and the tub filling. Carmen ran through the hall and into the kitchen.

"What are you doing? Jesus. This is killin' me."

When Carmen returned to living room carrying a cool, wet towel for Shane. "Here, put this on it. I don't know if it'll work since we only had soy milk, but drinking milk when your mouth is on fire soothes the burn."

Shane grabbed it from her and placed it on top of her vulva. It wasn't helping and Shane leapt from the sofa and started dancing around the room. "Fuck. Fuck. Carmen, I'm burning up. Oh, God."

Carmen grabbed her and led her to the bathroom. "C'mon. I am so friggin' sorry, babe."

In the bathroom, Carmen helped Shane into the tub of shallow water. "Just let it keep running. It'll fill up. Just get in. Oh, man. Shane, I'm sorry." Shane lifted her leg over the side of the tub, then her other leg, and dropped into the cool water, naked from the waist down and wearing a white tank top.

"Believe me about cooking with my Mom?" Carmen grinned.

"Oh, god," Shane said in relief.

Senator Grisham had made Bette a proposition she couldn't afford not to take. There was a Senate cocktail party being held at The Willard Hotel that evening and it was Bette's chance to plead her case to those Senators not on the sub-committee and those who had heard her testimony, but weren't on her side. Bette had called Theresa Kennard, checked up on Angelica and Tina, and told Theresa where she would be. Bette reiterated that she remained just a call away if Tina needed anything.

Now, Senator Grisham worked the room at the cocktail party leaving Bette to her own devices. Bette had been in these situations many times, so she knew how to mingle effectively. She spoke with various Senators, telling them about the hearing, about the unjust loss of grant monies, and how important it was for the government to promote and fund the Arts.

She was speaking with a boring and stuffy Senator from some southwestern state who had been trying to put the moves on her, while at the same time telling her that the President was right to pull Arts funding. "You're a good looking woman and I can tell, smart as a whip. You've got to realize that it's more important that our young men fighting in Iraq have proper body armor. Don't tell me you think we should fund pornography over saving the lives of our men?"

"Senator, absolutely not. This is the wealthiest country in the world. I find it hard to believe that our men and women fighting in this senseless war in Iraq don't have the equipment they need. That-that is inexcusable, but it has nothing to do with funding the Arts, not pornography, or making sure our public schools are safe, that teachers are qualified, that there is no such thing as hunger in America. I would say that the problem isn't social issues, Arts, education, but. . . and maybe I'm wrong, but I would say 'pork' going to various states for their pet projects might be why our armed forces don't have what they need in Iraq and Afghanistan. Could-could it be that we'd have an abundance of funding for everyone if the government weren't buying $25,000 toilets."

"You're quite a smart girl. . ."


"But you don't know anything about politics—that's evident."

"Bette Porter?"

Bette thought, thank god. She could have easily ripped this old fart a new one if she could have persuaded him to follow her to another room. And he would have followed if he thought she was going to give him a little. Bette turned away from the man to look at the small statured, brunette woman. "Yes?" She smiled, recognizing the woman and extending her hand to her. "Hello."

"Barbara Boxer."

"Yes, I know. You're one of my senators."

"I'm thrilled to finally meet you."

"You're thrilled to meet me?" Bette wondered how the woman knew anything about her.

"I read quite a bit about you during your tenure at the CAC, especially the boycott headed by Fae Buckley."

"Oh, God. That-that was just. . ."

"I know. Our offices have dealt with Ms. Buckley time and time again. She's quite the handful and her style comes across very mild-mannered. . . ."

Bette interrupted, "Until she starts twisting the screws."

"I don't like to say it, but she's vicious. Unfortunately for you, most of the Senators on the committee you spoke to this afternoon have taken a great deal of campaign money from Buckley and her group."

Bette rolled her eyes and sighed. "She's just an albatross around my neck."

"You have a lot of Senate support, though, Ms. Porter."


"Bette. I think we're going to start seeing a swing toward the center. More and more of our constituents have had it with the current administration. The Republicans know what side their bread is buttered on. Lobbyists have a voice, but not as influential as the people when the people speak en masse. Trust me. You and Ms. Lord will get your funding."

"Do you really believe that?"

"I know it. I see that you're taking the time to schmooze with some of those who stand in stark opposition. That's a good idea. You've very persuasive—who knows, you might change some minds."

"I will. Thank you, Senator Boxer."

Barbara Boxer turned away, waved to someone across the room, but turned back to Bette. "Bette? Your partner, Tina Kennard? I remember she was honored for her community work recently. She isn't with you tonight?"

Bette was surprised that Senator Boxer would know of Tina, but then she thought it was her own vanity that was surprised. Bette had always been the focal point in the art world and a voice politically--a real mover and shaker, but Tina had earned her place as well. "Tina. She's been ill, but she's getting better."

Boxer looked at her. "She was pregnant," she stated, softly, afraid that Tina's illness might have something to do with that pregnancy.

Bette grinned. "We have a healthy daughter named Angelica. I won't force you to look at pictures because I'd corner you all evening. She's a strong, healthy baby," Bette nodded. "Wonderful baby."

"That's good news. Well good luck to you and my best to your partner. If you need anything Bette, feel free to contact my office. Dianne and I represent all of California."

"I will. Thanks for your support, Senator."

"Bye, now." Barbara Boxer walked off, leaving Bette momentarily alone. She looked around the room and her eyes landed on Barbara Grisham who stood next to Senator Christopher Bond, the senior senator from Missouri. Bond was in her face, yapping away, but Grisham was looking directly at Bette with an expression Bette knew well, having used it many times herself—a look of interest, seduction, mystery, and desire. Bette smiled and walked to her left to where Senator Specter stood munching on a carrot. "Senator Specter? Bette Porter." She extended her hand again. "I grew up in Philadelphia, but am living in California now."

"Glad to meet you. Porter? You're not related to the late Melvin Porter, are you?"

"He was my father."

"I'm sorry for your loss," he said sincerely. "I worked a bit with him. Great man. He could convince you the sun was rising when you knew it was setting. You don't have that particular gift, do you? If you do, I'd better head for the hills now."

"I don't know. I spoke before the Senate sub-committee on funding for the Arts. I hope I was convincing."

"I'll get a copy of your testimony and read it over. . . ."

Bette was ready to launch into her prepared series of short sound bites to Specter when they were approached by Barbara Grisham. "Hi, Arlen. How are you?"


Barbara Grisham leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. "You don't mind if I steal Ms. Porter away? I have a hundred questions about what I heard today at the hearing."

"No, no. Go right ahead." To Bette, Arlen Specter said, "Be sure to get me a copy. I do believe in Arts funding."

He drifted away leaving the two women standing there. "I know you must be exhausted. What do you say we blow this joint?" Barbara Grisham said with a laugh. "Let's go get a drink."

Bette held up her glass of white wine, her head lowered, and her eyes looking up at the Senator.

"The Willard--a fine old hotel, loads of history, splendid décor, elegant style. . . Their house wine? Leaves a lot to be desired. I know a place where we can have a real drink that you won't forget anytime soon."

Bette and Senator Grisham had made their way to the hotel's entrance, passing the bar inside the Willard and forgetting about the promised drink.

The flirting was one-sided. Bette tried to keep it light and professional, but she felt the pull toward the woman. It was so easy to fall into this moment that didn't involve reading progress charts about post-coma treatment, living with another person who wasn't her partner, but her partner's mother, thinking about Stephanie and her dislike for her, the lack of a new career and if not a career, a job. It was easy to just be flirted with and enjoy good conversation at Senator Grisham's home where she had just been invited. Bette had known she should just go back to her hotel and be ready for her early morning flight out of Washington, but she had found herself saying yes to the Senator. She was well aware that the fire she literally stamped out in the Senate chambers was nothing compared to the figurative fire she was jumping into this evening.

Helena walked out of her office, down the outdoor staircase, and across the parking lot to her Mercedes. She had arrived at the driver's side door when a hand came from behind her and lightly touched her arm. Helena looked down and grinned. She took a short moment to contain her excitement and turned to her with a soft smile.


"Hi, Helena. I was hoping to catch you."

"You did. What a pleasant surprise. What are you doing here?"

"Well, I told the guard at the gate that I had a meeting with you thinking I wouldn't get through, but I figured I'd give it a shot."

Helena was completely turned now, looking directly into Dylan's eyes as if she were saying the most fascinating thing ever. "Perseverance is always a good idea, yeah?"

"I guess it is 'cause you know what he said?"

"Haven't a clue?"

"Oh, I'll lay odds that you do." Dylan grinned and that seductive look that she had down pat was out in full display.

"Did he say, 'Of course, Ms. Moreland, you're on Shaolin's guest list,' hmmm?"

"Not quite." Dylan stared into Helena's eyes and let it be known that Helena's attentiveness was noticed and welcomed. "He said that Ms. Peabody has asked that you be given full access to her offices at all times."

Helena smirked. "Well, it pays to know people."

"In high places," Dylan finished.

Helena felt herself warm and flush. Whenever Dylan Moreland was near, she seemed to lose her train of thought. She stood at her car, holding her keys, but not moving.

"Were you on your way off the lot?"

"Uh. . .yeah, I do have to dash, but I could spare a few moments. Was there something on your mind?" Helena asked. Dylan wiped her brow. "It's warm out here. Why don't we sit in my car and talk for a bit?"

Dylan walked to the passenger's side, opened the door, and slipped into the seat. Helena took a deep breath, preparing herself to be in close quarters with a woman she wanted badly. She opened her door and sat down, slipping her legs and feet into the car before closing the door. She turned the car on to get the a/c running before twisting in her seat to look at Dylan. "Well. . . ."

Dylan leaned in and kissed her as if it was the most important thing she had to do. She held Helena's face between her hands and pushed her tongue deep into Helena's mouth. Helena turned in her seat and leaned into Dylan. Dylan's fingers moved over Helena's eyebrows, lightly caressing them, rubbing her temple, moving her fingers from Helena's hairline through the long wavy locks. The two women made out, kissing and touching, and exploring each other's mouths. Helena swallowed hard, not wanting to separate for a breath, but to hold onto Dylan this way for an eternity. As Dylan began to pull away, Helena leaned in further, placing her hand behind the filmmaker's head, clutching her short, brunette hair in her closed hand, holding her in place, bringing her closer. The two women moaned and groaned and when Helena's hand pulled on the lowest point of Dylan's v-neck, white T-shirt and stretched it lower, her knuckles bumping against Dylan's breast, Dylan grunted and panted. Helena's lips moved from Dylan's mouth and down her neck, sucking on the thick corded vein. "Oh, Helena," Dylan said with a slow inhale and extended exhale. Helena's tongue pressed against that vein, then she started to suck on the tanned flesh, sliding her tongue up and down her neck, her lips pulling the tight skin into her mouth.

Dylan broke away. Her eyelids were hooded, eyes glazed over, her lips a deep pink from the kissing. She was panting. "God. Kiss me again." Just as Helena went for her neck again, Dylan said, "Please, don't leave a mark."

Helena froze. "Why?" she asked softly.

"I don't want to have to explain it to Danny." Desire was plastered on Dylan's face, but Helena was confused.

Helena Peabody sat back in her seat and shook her head slowly.


"I don't know, Dylan. Isn't it obvious to you what I'm feeling?"

"I think so." Dylan smiled. "Yeah."

"I fancy you. True enough, but there's Danny," Helena stated.

"What about him?"

"You're with him? I'm not comfortable getting into this kind of triangle. I don't want it. I've done my experimenting years ago now. I don't want to experiment with you."

"That's easy for you to say, Helena." Dylan rested her head on the back of the seat. "You know exactly what you are." She sat up and turned to face her. "Since I met you and since we've done this. . ." She waved her hand between them. ". . . this thing here, I don't know what I'm doing or what I want. I'm mixed up. I think about you all the time—even when Danny and I are together. My head is so full of you."

"You're still sleeping with him?" Helena had for some odd reason believed that once Dylan started fooling around with her that all of her sexual attention would be only on her.

"He's my boyfriend. I can't just stop. He'd know that something was wrong."

"Something is wrong. It's difficult for me to believe that you can touch me and kiss me the way you do and then go back to him. It seems quite odd."

"That's who I am. This is the life I'm living."

"Do you kiss and touch him the same way?"

"I'm not comfortable talking about that." Dylan couldn't tell her that she felt nothing for Danny at this point. Everything was going way off course. She had a plan and somehow it had gotten screwed up.

Helena pursed her lip and her out-breath turned into a long sigh. She put the key in the ignition. "I have a meeting to hurry to. I'll give you a call." Helena put the car in drive while Dylan rushed to get out.

Standing between the car's body and the opened door, Dylan leaned in and said, "I'm not trying to jack you around, Helena."

"Of course you're not."

It took Helena about seven miles or forty minutes LA rush hour time to calm down. She was equally aroused by and angry with Dylan. She beat her open palm against the steering wheel, honked at the slow and go traffic, shouted at her fellow drivers. All of that anger was directed at the indecisive Dylan Moreland. When she exited onto the 405 South from the 101, she was finally able to make a phone call.

"Sandra," Helena said and she listened as her phone dialed the number.

The other end was picked up immediately. "You've reached the home of Helena Peabody."

"Sandra, it's me. Could you do a curry for two? Whit will be coming over at eight. Thanks." She clicked off. As she drove, Helena went over what had transpired between herself and the filmmaker. By the time she reached Brentwood, she had decided that she would have nothing to do with Dylan. It was illogical to try to get to someone who was so fickle. Dylan didn't want her; she was playing some game. Bloody hell, she was Helena Peabody. No one just treated her this way. She wasn't going to allow anyone to walk all over her feelings and ego like this. Dylan could go shag herself.

Theresa had returned to Bette and her daughter's home in West Hollywood to put Angelica down for her afternoon nap. Stephanie had remained at the Center, but not for Tina, she was there for Dr. Henry McPherson. Stephanie had been surfing up and down the channels, not staying on one long enough to decide if the program was worth her time. Her arms were crossed over her breasts and she held the remote control in her hand, mindlessly clicking on the 'up channel' button when McPherson walked in wearing his white jacket with a dark business suit under it.

"Hi Stephanie," Henry McPherson said. "Tina."

"Hi, Hen," Stephanie oozed her southern charm. "Tina and I have been sitting here trying to find something to watch, but there's nothing on TV except the news. I figured Tina wouldn't want to see any bad news. No death and destruction, disasters or scandals, right big sister?" This was the first time Stephanie had said anything to Tina or looked her way in a good thirty minutes.

"No bah news," Tina said without much enthusiasm.

"Tina, you are doing so well." McPherson began in that patronizing tone one might use with a young child. "I had a very long discussion with your speech therapist today. She is quite pleased with the rapidity of your progress." Dr. McPherson walked over to Tina's hospital bed that was inclined so she could watch television. He took her hand and looked into her eyes. Tina was drawn to him instantly. He seemed to be able to really understand and care for her. No one had looked at her that way other than Bette. The intensity of it was unsettling. "What I want you to do is to really try hard with making full syllables. I know it's easier with some consonants, but you know the words, so I want to hear you use them correctly."


"Can I hear you say my name?"


"Don't forget the 'n.' Hen-ry. Hennn-ry. Try again."

Tina watched his mouth. "Heh-ne-ry."

"Only two syllables, dear. Henry. Henry."




"Excellent. I love the way you say my name." Dr. McPherson grinned at her. In a flash, Stephanie was beside him.

"That was good, Tina." She looked at McPherson. "Do you like the way I say your name?" she said flirtatiously.

Henry chuckled. "Absolutely. You Kennard women are so smooth."

"So Henry, when do you knock off tonight? I'll take you to dinner."

"I thought you southern girls liked to be pampered, treated like a lady."

"Oh, I do. You'll be a gentleman tonight, won't you?"

Dr. McPherson was into Stephanie's teasing and flirting. "For as long as you want me to be one." He winked at her. It was as if both her sister and her doctor had forgotten Tina was there. She stared at them, wondering why Stephanie would jeopardize her relationship with her fiancé and if she'd ever confess to him whatever she ended up doing in Los Angeles.

Dr. McPherson stood and looked down at Tina. "Tina, keep practicing your words. Tonight, before you go to sleep, try saying Bette's name, Angelica, your friends. You remember everyone's name, take your time, say their names slowly, and use all of your syllables. Okay?"


"Yes. That's a hard one, I know. 'S's and 'z's are tough. I made you this list of tongue twisters, too. Don't worry if you can't get them, I can't do most of them either, but you practice speaking those letters aloud." He squeezed her hand. "Thank you, Tina for working so hard."

"Thank you, Henn-ry," Tina said slowly.

McPherson looked at Stephanie. "I'm off in about half an hour. How about you take me to dinner and I'll take you for after-dinner cocktails."

"Oh, that sounds good. A real Los Angeles cocktail bar, hmmm?"

"I make a good cocktail. Appletini. Cosmo. Margarita." Henry McPherson rubbed his hands together in anticipation of a tasty cocktail. "And you have to see the western view from my house."

"How could I say no?" Stephanie rested her hand on his forearm, letting it gently slide away from him.

"I hope you can't."

Stephanie grinned at him, holding his gaze in her eyes before he finally turned away.

Bette and Barbara Grisham sat in the back of the Senator's limousine. Bette was feeling apprehensive. She wanted to see Grisham's paintings and she wanted to get some assurances from the Senator that the funding Julia Lord depended on to get her show off the ground would be forthcoming. It was evident that Barbara Grisham had other thoughts on her mind. She sat close to Bette—far too close considering the spaciousness of the ride.

"It won't take long. I'm in Georgetown."

"Oh. I love that area."

"You know it."

"A little. I dated this guy, Coleman when I was at Yale. He lived in Northern Virginia. We drove from Connecticut down here to visit his family once and stopped in Georgetown for a day."

"So I don't need to have my driver stop so you can take a picture at 'The Exorcist steps?'"

"No, I think that was our first stop twenty years ago." Bette laughed.

Bette looked out the window and saw the lights of the Watergate Hotel to her right and on the left the Potomac River. There were a few sailboats and houseboats on the water with evening lights burning brightly.

"It's been a long day for sure."

"Yes, but I feel. . . I don't know, kind of wired. Before I was on the Hill, I met an old friend for coffee and got a private tour of some ancient Egyptian art and artifacts. The works were fascinating, but I'm truly looking forward to seeing your collection."

"They're not everyone's taste."

"I love Wilhelm de Kooning and of course, Krasner, and Pollack."

"Then I think you'll like what I have to show," Barbara's innuendo couldn't be missed.

The women spoke lightly about the beauty of Washington, the architecture, the sculptures at every traffic circle and on corners, the colorful facades of restaurants and bars. They drove north to K Street, then turned into downtown Georgetown. In no time at all, they had arrived at Senator Grisham's red brick rowhouse.

Bette was in awe of the Senator's collection of Abstract Expressionists art. It was vast and the works had been hung with forethought—each painting fluidly leading into the next.

"This Franz Kline is amazing," Bette's eyes warmed as she looked at the predominantly red and blue painting entitled Biomorphic Rhythm. "And this Mark Rothko is-is. . . God, Senator, it's fabulous."

"Barbara," Grisham corrected. "So you like the Homage to Matisse, hmmm? I'm putting it up for auction in November."

Bette was disbelieving. "You're letting this go? Why?"

"I have a few Rothko's. I've had this a while. I'm ready to see something new on this wall."

Bette stared at her. She wouldn't mind looking at the Homage to Matisse, in her hall for the rest of her days. "Well, you'll make a fortune on it. My guess is double figure millions. Twenty, maybe more. Believe me, if I could come up with it, I'd bid."

"Let me show you the others."

The two women moved from room to room. Grisham and her husband had beautiful examples of Abstract Expressionists in every room including two Jackson Pollack's in the kitchen. They finally made their way back to the living room and Grisham opened a bottle of wine. Bette, who was sitting on the sofa, took the offered wine and smiled as Grisham sat next to her.

"Thank you for sharing your collection with me. It was amazing."

"Thank you, Bette. That's high praise coming from someone I consider an expert on art."

"I try," Bette said with a smile.

"So, Bette, tell me about your life in Los Angeles. I know you're not with the CAC any longer. Where are you working?"

"I'm doing freelance projects exclusively. I-I've been dealing with a personal situation that has taken most of my time these days. . ."

"Oh, yes, a new baby at home."

"Yes, Angelica, but also my partner is quite ill."

"Really? What is her illness?"

Bette quietly explained. She seldom talked about it, because she was living it. Barbara Grisham had asked, so Bette talked. It was almost like speaking with a stranger on an airplane. She doubted she'd see Grisham again and since they were relaxed, having a glass of wine, and easy conversation, Bette spilled it all. Grisham was a natural politician. She knew how to draw out a person, to ask questions, show concern, and say all of the appropriate and acceptable things.

"This must be so hard on you, Bette."

"It's getting better everyday, but sometimes, I think there's just not enough of me. There was a time when-when I loved a challenge, but life. . ." She shook her head. ". . .shouldn't be this challenging," Bette started off strong, but her last words were said softly, almost to herself.

"So this is why your schedule's so tight—that you needed to fly in and out the next morning?"

"Yes. I've never been away from Angelica. I miss my daughter. I haven't been away from Tina either since before the baby was born. I really want to go home."

"That sounds like a hint."

"I don't mean it that way, but I really could only stay for one drink. I'm sorry, but I need to get back to my hotel."

Barbara stood and Bette followed, handing Barbara her empty glass. "My driver will make sure you get back to your hotel safely. I've enjoyed our evening. I love a night where it isn't all about politics and policy."

"Oh," Bette started.


"I was going to ask you again about our funding. Barbara, we need that money. I-I realize that you can't make the decision for the entire Senate, but any help you can be. . . "

"Bette, you were your own best voice. The committee heard you, everyone was impressed except for Horsey who spends his time trying to out-maneuver women. He never wins, but he tries. You can go back to Jules and tell her that she'll see the check."


"Oh, yes. Jules and I go back years. Both Wellesley women. She was a senior when I entered. She wasn't my first lover, but still one of the dearest."

"Wow, she didn't tell me."

"She's discreet. That's one of many things I love about her."

"So you had already started the process of getting the funding returned? You didn't really need me."

"I think I needed you in more ways than I anticipated, but alas. . ."

Bette smiled not wanting to follow up on the teasing, but acknowledging it nonetheless.

"Thank you for this evening, Barbara. It was really nice."

Bette opened the door and left.

Carmen and Shane walked down the corridor of the West Los Angeles Neurotrauma Rehabilitation Center holding hands, their arms swinging happily. As their arms swung up, Shane held their entwined hands at their highest position and brought them to her face and sniffed Carmen's fingers.

"Soap?" Carmen asked.


"My hands are clean."

"Maybe we can swipe some surgical gloves while we're here. Just in case."

"You want to try again after what happened."

"Sitting in the tub took away the burning from the peppers, but. . . " Shane stopped, pulled Carmen to her and whispered in her ear, "You had your whole hand inside me and it felt fine. I've gotta feel that again."

Carmen kissed Shane lightly on the lips. "All righty then."

They reached Tina's door and turned into it. Tina was in her hospital bed, but sitting up. Her food tray was pulled over her and Tina was working on a children's puzzle of red, green, blue and yellow. The puzzle pieces were large blocks and Tina was lost in the task, the tip of her tongue sticking out between her lips, as she tried to figure out where the eight pieces might fit. Stephanie was on the other side of the room, her head tilted up to stare at the television. She was focused on Entertainment Tonight.

"Hey," Shane said to both women.

Stephanie turned, looked at them, saw them holding hands, and grunted something that might have been a hello, but could have been the sound of pretend barfing. Whatever it was that she said, it wasn't pretty. Tina looked up and smiled at them. "Hi, Caw. Hi Shay."

"What cha doin', Tina?" Carmen looked down at the puzzle.

"A puh-ull." Tina bit the inside of her lower lip. "A puh-zull."

Shane pulled up a chair next to Tina. "You need any help, girlfriend."

"No-oh. Can do."

"Okay. What's been going on?"

"Beh-Bette on TV."

"Really. We missed it. What was she doing?"

Tina looked at Stephanie who continued to ignore them. "Steh-nee? Beh on TV?"

Stephanie turned looked at them, then faced the television again as she said, "She was on C-Span flirting with Senator Barbara Grisham while giving some bleeding heart speech about the importance of porno in our lives."

"No-oh," Tina frowned.

"We got it, Tee. Don't worry." Shane looked at Stephanie and shook her head. "Was she good?"

Tina grinned. "Gray-ate." Tina looked down at the puzzle and slowly picked up the blue truck and carefully placed it in the correct spot. She smiled and kept working. In no time, she had finished the puzzle—the blue truck, the red car, the yellow airplane, the green bicycle, the blue motorcycle, the red train, the yellow pogo stick, and the green boat.

"You did great, too. Do you wanna do it again?"


Shane dumped the pieces and mixed them up.

"What new?" Tina looked from Shane to Carmen.

"Not much. We've just been hangin'. I've got a good job now—my own fucking shop, remember? We had an awesome opening—tons of booze, food, good music. I'd say great music, but Carm wasn't in the house."

Tina grinned and nodded, very happy for Shane.

"Yeah, I had to work a Russell Simmons party and John Legend just hired me to DJ two parties or rather one long party on the weekend. Making money, ya know?"

"Good. Good, Caw-meh."

"You're getting well. Bette's talking to Congress. . ." Shane started.

"And fucking Barbara Grisham," Stephanie muttered as a loud aside.

Shane pushed back in her chair, stood, and in two strides was above Stephanie. "Do you know that? Do you? Is this some fact or are you just trying to upset your sister?"

Stephanie wasn't at all threatened by Shane. She stared up at her. "I'm actually quite good and reading body language. Like right now, you're trying to act like some tough butch and I can see you're kind of a. . .wimp." Stephanie glared at her, but Shane moved into her face. "And I watched your friend at that crappy hearing and I watched the Senator and I could tell that they had this. . . I don't know. . .gay chemistry. Yeah. It's what I saw." Stephanie picked up the remote, turned up the volume, crossed her arms over her body and turned away from Shane.

Shane walked back over to Carmen and Tina. Carmen's arm went around Shane's waist. "It's okay," she said.

"Screw her," was Shane's only response to Carmen. She turned to Tina and said, "I hear you're in the pool now. How's the water?"

"Wahm." Tina laughed.

Carmen glanced at the bedside table and saw a sheet of white paper. "Oh, is this Bette's schedule?"

"Yeah," Tina said clearly, using only one syllable.

"She'll arrive at 1:40. That's good. You'll see her by tomorrow afternoon."

"Happy and satisfied, I'm sure," Stephanie chimed in.

Shane and Carmen ignored her. Tina looked up at her sister, but didn't say anything.

"You know, maybe we'll come back later." Shane leaned in and whispered to Tina, "Your sister has some bug up her ass, but she's fucked and wrong. Bette's totally in to you."

Carmen nodded and said softly. "After last year, Bette knows what she wants. You can trust her."

Tina nodded her head in agreement, but there was this niggling worry that made her second guess what she knew was true.

When Bette arrived at the Tabard Inn on N Street, the person at the desk gave her two messages. One message was from Stephan Sweets, the pilot of the private plane she was flying on and the other message was from Theresa Kennard saying that nothing was wrong, just a congratulations on her testimony. That call had come in hours earlier and she had spoken to Theresa since. She walked up the short flight of stairs to her room.

The room was homey and reminded her of her father's master bedroom in the family house in Philadelphia. A Victorian secretary made from mahogany and a matching four poster bed covered in a beautiful, handmade wedding ring patterned quilt of pink and green were the focal points in the room. A lovely antique forest green settee of crushed velvet faced the only window in the room. Her mind went back to her early days when she was nine years old or so and would enter her parents' bedroom just before bedtime to read a short story to them. She'd prop herself between them and read a humorous short story by Mark Twain or a poem by her father's favorite poet, Langston Hughes. Bette's mind was on family—her biological family and the one she had created with Tina. Tomorrow, she'd be home again.

Bette picked up the phone and called Stephan Sweets. She learned that there were some mechanical problems with the private plane and that Julia Lord had booked her on a Delta flight out of Reagan National Airport at 9am, arriving at LAX at 11:30 tomorrow morning. Bette took down all of the information, thanked Sweets, and hung up, only to pick up the phone again and call Tina's room at the Center. Theresa Kennard answered and Bette gave her the new information which Theresa hand wrote on the printed itinerary that Bette had left.

"Theresa, can I say goodnight to Tina? Could you put the phone up to her ear, please?"

"Okay." Bette heard her moving the phone. "Go ahead, honey," Theresa said.

"Tina. Hi, baby."


"Everything went well here. Grisham is everything you thought--so powerful. Confidence just oozes from her." Bette said excitedly. "She's going to make sure that our funding is reinstated." Bette realized that she was doing her usual—talking about her life. "I'm sorry. How are you? Did you have a good day?"

"Yes. Good."

Bette smiled. Tina's voice was clear. In just one day Bette could hear the difference.

"I can't wait to see you. Sleep well, Tee."

"Gooddd. Nightttt."

Bette sucked her lips into her mouth, holding back her emotions as she waited for Theresa.

"I'd put your lil Angie on the phone, but her Aunt Kit has her tonight. I'm on my way back to your place now. It's time for Tina to go to sleep. See ya tomorrow, Bette."

About an hour later, Tina was staring at the fiber optic illuminating laser ball that Bette had purchased for her. She was on her side captivated by the blues and greens changing colors and didn't hear Josh the orderly enter her room.

"Tina Kennard as I live and breathe," Josh said happily. "How are you tonight?" Josh pulled the blood pressure cuff from its holder, fitted it around Tina's arm and then pushed the stethoscope into his ears. He began to pump. When he finished he smiled at her. "Perfect. Just like your smile." Tina grinned at him.

"My name's Josh, remember?"

"Yes, Joss."



"Almost. How are your legs? Wanna a little rubdown?" Josh moved the sheet that covered Tina's legs and massaged them. "I didn't see your girlfriend this afternoon. She's usually here. What. . ." He laughed. "Or who is keeping her busy tonight?"


"Yeah, I'll bet." Josh pressed his thumbs gently against the arch of Tina's foot, then held her foot between his hands and rubbed up and down its length. "She's really sexy. Just a total stunner."

Tina frowned and he caught the look when he smiled up at her. "Oh, not that you're not. I mean, you're hot. If you weren't in this hospital bed, I'd ask you out. I don't care that you call yourself a lesbian. I think women are lesbians 'til they find the right man. Make a deal with you, get well, get outta here, and I'll call you. Maybe we can hook up. What'd ya say?" Josh moved to the other foot, massaged it, moved up her leg and pushed against the tight muscles running up and down her calf.

"No-oh. I can'tttt."

"Well, if you decide you want to leap the fence, I'm your man." Josh walked over to the tray he had placed on Tina's food table and picked up a Dixie cup of water and a small plastic cup with two pills in it. "Your anti-seizure meds. Open up."

Tina shook her head. "No, do nah-not want."

"Doctor's orders. I have to give you the pills. We don't want you flying out of bed in the middle of the night. Open up."

She shook her head again.

"This isn't a choice, I'm afraid." He stood beside her and held the pills in his palm for her to take. "If you don't want these, you're going to have to talk to your doctor about it tomorrow. Tonight, you've been prescribed them. Let's go."

Tina picked up each pill and inserted them in her mouth.

"And a swallow of water, please." Josh commanded holding the cup to her lips.

Tina drank the water and felt the pills go down her throat. Not again, she thought. She'd have bad thoughts and equally bad dreams again. Whatever these pills were for weren't helping her. They were making her more and more confused, unable to distinguish reality, and causing her to jumble conversations and information into other conversations and information.

Josh finished in her room, turned off the illuminating laser and color lamp and dimmed her overhead lights. "Sweet dreams, my fair-haired girl."

Bette was standing at the fireplace, staring up at the painting over the mantle. Her smile lit the room, more so than the fire coming from the hearth. Bette loved the piece of art and it showed in her grin and the radiant glow reflected in her eyes. She turned to look at Senator Grisham who handed her a glass of Scotch.

"I can-I can really only stay for one, Senator. . ."

"Barbara. And I just opened a fabulous bottle of Scotch."

"Barbara, I can really only stay for one drink." Bette sat on the sofa. "I've a very early flight. But I'm really glad I got to see your incredible collection."

Barbara Grisham took a seat on the other side of the sofa. "Let me. . . ask you something. . . Why did you get fired from the CAC? Was it because you're a lesbian?"

Bette laughed that infectious chuckle that was husky and alluring. Her head was slightly tilted down, but her eyes looked up into Barbara's. "What did you Google me or something?"

"This afternoon, after your pyrotechnics."

Well I don't think the pyrotechnics were mine. I think Senator Horsey. . .

". . . Is a ridiculous grandstander and you made him look like a fool." Barbara stared at her, before adding, "And I loved it."

"Well then. . ." Bette dipped her forefinger into her glass of Scotch, wetting her finger with the full-bodied liquid. It was a symbolic act—a promise of what was to be—her long finger, circling inside, wet. "If you Googled me, then you know I have a partner named Tina and a six month old daughter." It was only right to inform Barbara Grisham where she stood. A one-night stand was one thing, a relationship was out of the question.

Bette's elbow was propped on the back of the sofa, her hand hanging down circling the rim of her glass. Barbara Grisham tenderly touched her hand, running her own fingers over it, gently, seductively, wantonly. "Is Tina. . ." She held Bette's hand in hers, encircling the finger that had played in the glass of Scotch with her hand. ". . . as intense. . ." Bette's finger was too titillating to ignore, so the Senator leaned into it, sucked Bette's finger into her mouth like a delicious caramel lollipop. Bette felt the thrill of it run up and down her spine. ". . .as you are?" Barbara matched Bette in the enticing voice category. She was the one who was intense—watching Bette, melting her with her stare, daring her to take the gamble of a passionate night with her.

Senator Grisham came on strong and Bette liked it. For the sake of the game, Bette felt compelled to mention Barbara's husband, but she knew that it didn't matter. She only smiled when Grisham explained that her software husband and she had an arrangement and Bette's smile grew when Barbara pleaded with Bette to come to bed with her.

Their lips, even closer, sharing the same air; the kiss that wasn't felt like more of a kiss than Bette had ever experienced. She knew they weren't kissing, but she could feel Barbara's warm tongue against hers and experienced the sensations of being swallowed up by Grisham's mouth. Bette's chest heaved and her breasts ached with need. Tina would never know. It had been a long while since someone showed her this kind of desire. She and Tina had made love once that one afternoon just a few weeks before her delivery and even then, Tina had made it clear that she would continue to see Helena. Bette could look at this as a stress reducer. It meant nothing other than sex and Tina wouldn't know. Bette moved another breath closer to Barbara and Barbara knew that Bette Porter was finally going to take the step.

"I can't," Bette whispered.

"That does not sound like a Bette Porter statement."

"Tina and I don't have an arrangement. Excuse me, just for a minute." She jumped up and strode off to the powder room near the front door. In the bathroom, she flipped her phone open and called Tina.

Tina was at Shane's opening night party for her new salon. The party was loud and fun and she loved getting away. She had yelled at Bette for leaving to go to Washington and having to have Angus watch the baby for three days in a row, but here she was on the day four at Shane's party. She couldn't miss opening night, though and Angelica seemed to like Angus. Despite the decibel level of the party, Tina heard her phone ring and she found a quiet place to talk to Bette.

It was shocking to hear Bette inform her that Barbara Grisham, the powerhouse Senator from Massachusetts was seated in her living room, probably naked, waiting for Bette to return and make love to her. That Bette would call her to tell her this was incomprehensible. What was her point? "I'm sorry Bette, why are you telling me this right now?" Tina sat on the toilet in the vacated bathroom listening to her lover? Former lover? Would be/could be lover?

"Because Tina we have an agreement with one another." Bette sounded sad and pissed.

Tina knew that Bette was struggling and wanted something from her, but she also knew it was something she wasn't prepared to give. She wouldn't let Bette hurt her again. The pain of Bette's four month liaison with Candace wasn't going away. "So you want to have sex with her and she's in the other room and you're asking my permission."

"I'm not asking your permission. I don't know. . ."

"Well you'd better hurry because I don't think Senator Grisham is going to wait around for you for very long." Tina's anger was always right on the surface these days. She wasn't fulfilled. She had trust issues. Bette didn't help matters by abandoning them to fly to Washington when she had agreed to parent their daughter.

Bette tried to goad Tina by asking if it would fine to fuck her on her $50,000 carpet, but Tina wasn't playing that game with Bette.

"If that's what you want to do, Bette."

That's not what I want to do, Tina. I just-I just want you to care." Tina knew that she should have said something. "Do you?" Bette was trying to make herself out to be the victim, but that wasn't true. If Bette was going to sleep with Barbara Grisham, she was going to have to live with the consequences of that.

Tina said nothing. The two women hung on the phone with silence hanging between them. In the background, Tina heard Barbara Grisham asking Bette if she was all right. Tina heard the fury in Bette's voice with just the simple words, "I've gotta go." It reminded her of the day Bette had learned she hadn't received funding from the Peabody Foundation. The anger was palpable; she could cut it with a knife.

Tina looked at her phone, sighed, and disconnected, too.

When Bette walked out of the powder room, Barbara was right there, holding Bette's glass, offering it to her once more. "You could use some encouragement."

Bette took a long sip—a sip that gave her a chance to think about her next move. Finally, she said, "I'm sorry. I really don't need any encouragement. You-you are an exquisite woman." The women were standing close again and Barbara wanted to reach out and comfort her, hold her, then have her way with her and Bette wanted to assure Barbara of the usual when one rejects another—it's not you, it's me.

Bette turned the glass of scotch back over to Barbara who, in spite of Bette's flirtatious appraisal of her, stood there feeling a bit rejected, yet dignified. "It would have been good, though."

Bette leaned in and kissed her goodbye. Her lips fell against Barbara's cheek and she took her time to let her know that it hadn't been easy to say no. "I'm sure it would have," Bette said and turned to walk out. She was out the door in a second, leaving the Senator standing there holding two half empty glasses of Scotch.

On the other side of the door, Bette stood in the warm, humid evening and thought about her relationship with Tina. She placed her hand on the wrought iron banister and took her first step toward the street. She looked down and saw a glint of gold on the brick step. Bette bent to pick it up and recognized it as one of the pair of earrings the Senator had been wearing earlier in the evening.

Barbara Grisham headed back toward the living room. Her original plans for the evening were now non-existent, so she was going to spend a lonely night in bed reading pages of a new Congressional bill that had some things she sought and other items that she would never agree to. She wondered if she'd be able to keep her mind on the Bill when she was thinking about Bette Porter.

Bette picked up the earring and turned around. She knocked on the door

Barbara Grisham opened the door and smiled when she saw Bette. "Oh, did you change your mind?"

"Uh. . . I-I found your earring on the steps." Bette held it in her palm, but when the Senator reached out for it, Bette pulled the smaller woman into her. She pushed Barbara back into her home and pressed her against the wall, kissing her with unbridled passion.

Barbara felt her body warm and tingle. Her arms wrapped around Bette's waist and with a quick motion, jerked Bette's lower half against her. Bette's tongue was down her throat, pushing hard, her hands held Barbara's head in place, demanding and forcing her to be there and only there for her mouth.

But Barbara was powerful and carried herself with authority in all aspects of her life--in the Senate chambers, with the Washington elite, in her home with the husband she has an agreement with, and in the more intimate setting of her bed with the woman of her choosing. She twisted in Bette's embrace, turned her around and it was Bette who was against the wall and it was Barbara who selected not to hold Bette's head in place, but to use her hands to remove Bette's thigh length, black jacket and let it fall to the floor. Her mouth separated from Bette's and she stood looking at her. She pulled off Bette's suit jacket and admired the toned and well-defined arms no longer hidden by jackets. The black top Bette wore highlighted all of her best features—full breasts, sexy arms, flat abs.

Barbara reached down and lifted the top, pulling it over Bette's head. Bette watched her, her mouth hanging open, waiting for Barbara's next move. The Senator's eyelids lowered and she pressed against Bette, kissing her again while admiring her in just her pants, heels, and bra. Bette moaned when Barbara snaked behind her, unsnapped the black lace bra Bette wore and her hands came around to the front again, under her bra to cup Bette's heavy breasts in her hands.

"Aaaah." Bette grabbed Barbara's jacket and pulled it from her, throwing across the hall onto the floor. She quickly pulled off the camisole, too, unfastened the front close of Barbara's bra, pushed her hands against the large, full breasts. "Oh, god."

Bette didn't wait, she was trying to unbutton the single button that held Barbara's skirt in place. When she was successful, the sound of the zipper going down filled the foyer. The skirt flowed to the floor and Barbara stepped out of it. Bette kicked off her heels, while Barbara's left hand ran from Bette's temple, down the planes of her face, against her neck, over her torso. When Bette unzipped her pants, Barbara's hands were right there to assist. A moment later, Barbara's right hand squeezed and rubbed Bette's breast. Bette held on to Barbara's shoulder, using it to brace herself as she got out of her black dress pants. She kicked them aside and pulled Barbara to her again. "You feel so good."

"You smell good," they hugged, then returned to their passionate kissing. Bette kissed her again and again, pecking her on the lips and while doing so, backing into the livingroom from the foyer with Barbara returning those kisses and following her into the next room with her slip, a garter belt, stockings and pumps on and a bra hanging loosely around her chest.

Tina was broken-hearted and as she watched this exchange unravel, she felt a lump growing in her throat. She cried in her sleep. What could she do to stop this? Wasn't Bette entitled to some happiness? She knew she hadn't made her happy in a long time.

Barbara and Bette were in the Senator's bedroom. It was a woman's room without a trace of maleness or husband anywhere in it. One closet door was open and it contained all women's skirt and jacket suits and a wall of shoes. The bed was heavy with pillows and a multi-pastel colored duvet. Barbara pushed Bette onto the bed. Bette looked up at her. "Senator, what would your distinguished colleagues say if they saw you now?" Bette's laugh was hearty and free from care.

"Hmm." Barbara considered it as she pushed Bette onto her back and climbed on top of her. "I think. . ." She bent toward Bette and kissed her, then stared at her. "I think, after watching you give your testimony and how every single pair of eyes were on you at the cocktail party. . ." She kissed her again. "They'd say that I am lucky to have you."

Bette stared into her eyes, then pulled her down again for a searing kiss. Bette's hands slid over the silky slip and the scratchy stockings. Her hands went under the slip.

"Oh, my God."

"This is you. Did you see the way I watched you during your testimony. I couldn't take my eyes off of you."

Bette's hands were on Barbara's butt. "Really?"

"Uh-hmm. You know, I mentally undressed you. I had stripped you down before you got to your third page." Barbara bent to kiss Bette's neck. "After I undressed you, I dined on you, Bette Porter. I had you on the witness table and everyone else was gone. Just you and me."

"Like now, Barbara. Just you and me." Tina tossed and turned. She whimpered as she slept, so sad that Bette would betray her again. Tina, in her drug-induced haze and in the throes of REM sleep, was unaware that she was merely dreaming. She had been told by Bette that the Senator had an extensive Abstract Expressionist collection that Bette wanted to see; her mother had been the one to call Senator Horsey a grandstander and a fool; Shane had told her that the opening party for Wax had taken place already, but in this dream, Tina was at the opening; her sister had sat in the chair and said that Grisham was undressing Bette; when Tina had met Bette, she had dropped and lost her earring and Bette found it, then when Bette returned it, she had leaned in for a kiss; it was Bette who had said those words to Tina—"you feel so good" and Tina had answered her by saying, "You smell good." That wasn't Barbara Grisham, but the two of them, in Tina's apartment earlier in the year; it was Tina who had told Bette that she was lucky to have her and told her "this is you" after that art guy left their home years ago. But as she slept, she remembered none of that. In her mind, Bette had called her to get permission to have sex with the powerful Senator and she had chosen to let that be Bette's decision and as usual, Bette did what she wanted—she bedded Barbara Grisham.

Dana was on her stomach, stretched out in bed, and naked. Alice wore nothing while she straddled Dana's back, massaging the athlete's shoulders.

"That feels great, Al."

"We aim to please."

Alice moved off of Dana and re-positioned herself so that she was on her knees beside her. She reached across the bed to the nightstand and sprinkled more baby powder into her hands, put the Johnson & Johnson container back on the table and returned to Dana. She wiped the powder off of her hands by lightly brushing her palms over each other. The white powder fell onto Dana's ass and Alice began to rub it into her skin.

Alice's eyes closed, taking away the visual of Dana's round, hard butt. She just wanted to use her sense of touch to feel and communicate with her. She rubbed the tight muscles, feeling them become relaxed beneath her hands and then she felt how Dana was gently moving up and down against the bed. She heard Dana's moan and became terribly aroused. Alice's thumb slid across Dana's ass and between her crack. Her thumb moved lower, now between Dana's thin, but strong thighs. She lightly touched the soft pubic hair and hoped that Dana would spread her legs. Instead, Dana tried to press her legs together.

Alice's hand slid up Dana's body and as she stretched out beside her, Alice's arm went around Dana's shoulders. She whispered, "What is it? You, no want?"

"No, not tonight. It's getting late. I really have to be up early tomorrow."

"I'll put you to sleep."

Dana wasn't facing Alice and didn't make an effort to turn. She yawned and repeated, "I have to get up early."

"So you're ready to go to bed at 9:30?"

"I am." Dana turned her head to look at Alice. "I was thinking about what my mom said. I have to train and practice like this is real to me. When we're together, Alice, all I do is think about being with you."

"That's a good thing."

"Not really. I need to focus on winning, on moving up my ranking. Did you know that the newest WTA ranking came out and I barely edge out Capriati. That sucks. That so fucking sucks. But she trains constantly. Ten to twelve hours a day she's doing something related to her game."

"That's obsessive."

"No, it's her career. She had screw ups along the way and now she wants to play her best game. I need to do that. I know I'll never be up there with Lindsey Davenport or Maria Sharapova or the Williams sisters, but damn it, I'd love to get out of the top thirty and into the top 10 or even 15."

"You're playing really well."

"I haven't lifted weights in two days, Al. I should be doing that twice a day. My run? Didn't do it today. Cut it short yesterday. I've blown my trainer off half a dozen times. My career's going to be in the toilet."

"So, it's my fault, you're not doing what you need to?"

"I'm not saying that. It's just that you can convince me to skip things that I really shouldn't."

Alice withdrew her arm from around Dana, turned onto her back, and sat up. She bent her knees and rested her arms on top of them. Alice gave her sidelong glance. "Don't blame me. I'm not stopping you from doing what you have to do."

"Ya kinda are."

"I am not. How?"

"I should have gone out this morning. I should have been on the court practicing at least three hours longer than I did. I shouldn't be awake now."

"Then go to sleep." Alice reached over and turned off the lamp.

"Fine," Dana said as she turned her head away from Alice again.

Fine," Alice answered angrily and slid down into the bed.

The two women lay in the dark—one angry, the other disappointed. Alice had no idea what Dana went through each day. You're only as good as your last game; you move up and down the rankings constantly; and if you're a professional and in your thirties, you've been doing this for over twenty-five years at least and there should be a big payoff. Other tennis players had reached their peak when they were 15 years younger than Dana was now. Time was running out for Dana Fairbanks. It was now or never and Alice wouldn't or couldn't wrap her mind around it. Alice wanted to play and fuck and party with their friends, drink lattes, go to the movies, watch Nick at Night, add names to the Chart, babysit Angelica, have beers on the beach, Mimosas over brunch, walk over to Book Soup to read magazines at midnight. Where in all of that did running, weight lifting, practice doubles with Harrison, singles with her trainer, working on her serve, her lobs, and backhand come in? Where was the time for Dana's career?

Alice wanted to cry. She was not feeling the security she felt she should now that Lara was out of the picture. Every time they had a serious discussion nothing was resolved. They just became angry and then silent. Alice didn't think it was much to ask that her girlfriend be present in her life. She wasn't standing in the way of Dana's success. Hell, Alice was Dana's biggest fan. There was never a time she didn't cheer her on. God, why was this relationship fun and everything she wanted on one hand and difficult and hurtful on the other.

The room was eerily quiet. Neither Dana nor Alice turned or moved for ten minutes, fifteen, twenty.

Dana, with stealth, pushed out of bed and walked across the room to the other side. Alice opened one eye, assuming Dana was headed to the bathroom. When she saw Dana turning to come to Alice's side, she closed her eyes again. Dana sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at her. Dana lowered the sheet, picked up the container of baby powder and filled her hands with the sweet smelling powder. She rubbed her hands together and placed them immediately on Alice's breasts and began to glide and slide over them. Dana felt her clit throb when Alice's nipples popped up, hard and tight. She kept moving her hands over them and listened as Alice moaned. "Oh, baby," Alice said as part of a long exhaling breath.

Her hands moved over Alice's abdomen, then back up, and down again. She bent down and flicked her tongue over one nipple, then the other. She reached for more baby powder, covering Alice with a fine dust of white and then she let her hands roam, squeeze, knead, her fingers pull and pinch, and she didn't say a word when Alice's legs came up, knees bent, legs spread. Dana sprinkled more powder in her hands and rubbed them against Alice's inner thighs. "Oh, Dana, your hands feel fantastic on me." Alice was breathless. Her body undulated under Dana's hands—hips moving, chest heaving. Dana picked up the baby powder again and shook it all over the front of her body, then she got into bed, on top of Alice, and with a slow, sensual motion rocked and pitched forward and back, slid and pressed against Alice's body. Their breasts were soft and silky from the powder. The way they were able to move together caused each woman's nipples to catch and poke on the other. Alice wrapped her arms around Dana's neck and her legs around her waist while Dana kept herself propped and above her with strong arms, locked in place on the bed just above Alice's shoulders.

"Oh, Al. Your body is so fucking awesome. You. . .have. . .incredible tits." Dana bent to nibble on her ear and then she kissed her neck, sucking hard while still moving on top of her. "Jesus."

"Dane. My clit." Dana moved down Alice's body. She settled between her legs and moved to open Alice up. When Dana leaned forward, she felt it coming on. All of that powder on their bodies went right into her nostrils. She sneezed directly in Alice's bush.

"Dana!" Alice shouted in surprise.

"Sorry," Dana's eyes widened and she made a silly face. "I'll clean that up right away." She opened Alice's labia and pushed her mouth against her. Alice was drenched. Her clitoris poked out more than Dana had ever seen it and when Dana slowly wrapped her lips around the swollen button, Alice screamed out all of the desire that had built up in her. Her hands danced through Dana's long hair; she reached far and rubbed Dana's shoulders, and she pumped her vulva against Dana's chin and nose. Dana licked and sucked, her feet hanging off the bed, her big toe and second toe on each foot moving quickly against each other, curling, as she worked to get her lover off.

"Oh, Dana. Keep doing that. Just right there." Alice grabbed both of her breasts and circled her nipples with her index fingers while Dana munched on her. "Fuck. I. . . am so. . .going to come. I swear. Fuck. Oh! Fuuuuuuck!" Alice bounced in the bed, her body turning left and right, legs squeezing Dana in a tight and uncomfortable embrace. Dana twisted out of Alice's death grip and headed up to lie beside her. As soon as she was next to Alice, Alice held Dana's hand, slowly fisted two of her fingers inside her hand, then pushed those fingers down to her opening. She pushed Dana inside. "Once more. God, it feels incredible tonight."

Dana slid into her very wet lover. "I think. . . I might come with you." Dana wrapped her legs around Alice's legs and as she fucked her, she rode and slid over Alice's thigh. Her clitoris was sensitive and she was so close so quickly. Alice came again when Dana thrust deep inside as she pushed harder against her leg and in a moment, Alice's leg was covered with the evidence of Dana's orgasm.

Bette turned the old-fashioned room key in the lock leading to her room in the Tabard Inn. It had been a long day of schmoozing, but she was restless. She had loved spending hours talking politics with policy wonks and lobbyists, a quick coffee with her old friend from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Robert Frankel who was now with the NEA as its Director of Visual Arts and Museums, then the excitement of giving testimony to Senators whom she later shared drinks with, and finally, late evening conversation with Barbara Grisham. Frankel had been encouraging and Bette thought with his influence and Barbara's commitment, the funding would reappear in Julia Lord's accounts.

She tossed her key on the dresser at the door and was about to flip up the light switch when a voice sounded from the darkness. "Leave it off, baby."

Bette couldn't believe the voice she heard, so instead of following the command, she switched the light on, illuminating the dark room. It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust, but during those moments, Bette was unmoving as she stared at the bed.

"Surprise," Tina said. Her smile was full and just kept blossoming as she stared at the gobsmacked Bette.

"How-how did you. . .?" Bette couldn't figure out what her question might be. She looked at Tina whose hair was long and wavy, very much like the style she wore when they first met, not like the partially shaved head of the Tina she had left in California. Tina's skin was fair with a hint of rosiness. She was back to her pre-pregnancy weight except for her breasts which seemed to be about three cup sizes larger. The emaciated and weak body that was recovering in a hospital bed was not in this room.

"What am I doing here? The thought of you having to make another trip to the East Coast without me was too much to bear. I'm still sorry I missed your New York trip. I wanted to be here with you even if I couldn't attend the Hearing."

"How were you able to leave the neurotrauma center?" Bette asked stupidly.

"I just got up and walked out. . . to be with you, Bette. Baby, you don't have to stay by the door." Tina added after a pause, "Unless you want to make an escape."

"Never," Bette answered truthfully.

Bette was suddenly interested in what was going on in the room and the political back and forth of the afternoon and early evening had somehow been obliterated from her mind.

"Tee. Wow. What are you wearing?" Bette licked her lips.

"Do you like it, baby?"

"Uh. . .yeah."

"I thought you would. Turn off the light."

Bette switched off the overhead light, kicked off her high heels, and walked to the end of the bed. Tina was wearing a black baby doll nightie and a strapless bra under it. "Tina, you're-you're practically falling out of it." When Tina moved her leg, Bette also got a peek at the tiniest black lace panties she'd ever seen Tina wear. Bette was no longer trying to understand or rationalize what was happening in this room. She was going with it—Tina was there and well, happy, and sexy.

"Come love me."

Bette slid out of her long jacket, then the rest of her clothes. She turned back the sheets on her side and slipped into the bed. "I probably smell like smoke. Quite a few of these Congressional people smoke like chimneys." She started to get up to go to the bathroom, but Tina pulled her back.

She pulled Bette to her and sniffed her neck. "I love the way you smell. You smell like you and. . .a tiny bit of cigars and pipe tobacco and. . ." She touched Bette's lips with her own ". . .and a vodka martini. Absolut?"


"I like it. You smell like a very powerful woman."

"Ah, you and your thing for power. I bet Senator Grisham, if she had gotten close enough would have thought I smelled like Pampers and baby lotion, and No More Tears."

"She didn't get close?" Tina's voice held a hint of jealousy.

"All I wanted to do was get the funding, get out and home to LA and you. I never expected you'd be here. It's a wonderful surprise, Tee." Bette was naked sitting up in bed and she pulled Tina into her lap, the blonde straddling Bette's thighs.

"Bette, do you know how much I've missed holding you like this? I thought about it all this time. I wanted us to have another time together."

"We'll have many times, Tee." Bette's hand crawled across Tina's shoulder and around her neck. Her fingers scratched the fine hairs at Tina's nape, a touch that Tina always loved.

"Ummm." Tina dwelled in the joy of Bette's fingers on her "I understand."

"Can I say this one thing?"

"Uh-huh?" Tina bent and kissed Bette's neck.

"I read something today. It reminded me of. . . Well, someone showed me some Egyptian art and there was this poem that has been translated. It was originally in hieroglyphics. When I read it, I thought of you."

"What did it say?"

"It said, 'the sight of her makes me well! When she opens her eyes, my body is young, her speaking makes me strong, embracing her lifts me from all sadness.'"

"That's beautiful," Tina said.

"Umm. Those are my sentiments. I can't begin to explain how I felt when I got the call that you were awake and out of your coma—ya know, 'when she opens her eyes, my body is young.' I had been dragging, like I had aged ten years, and then that news and. . . ." Bette stopped, sucked her lips into her mouth and clamped down. "It was-It was like being reborn. I was shattered all of those weeks, Tee, and the sadness was this chasm I had fallen into with no way out."

Bette's fingers tangled in Tina's hair and with that hand, she brought her lover's face closer. She kissed her lips, then her neck; she covered her mouth over Tina's shoulder, then the other, and back to the first shoulder again. Instead of taking another love bite, Bette kissed her way down Tina's arm, stopping to explore a second pulse point, the inside of Tina's arm at her elbow. Bette's mouth covered the flesh and she sucked hard causing Tina to bounce in excitement. "Oh, Bette."

Bette had missed pleasuring Tina and the fulfillment that the act of her love for her brought to both of them.

"Bette?" Tina whispered. "Do you remember that afternoon we had together just before the baby?"

"I will never forget it, Tee. It was utterly amazing."

"I loved it, too. Something happened to me that day. I wanted to devour you, take you in a way I'd never done. Just be totally free to have my pleasure."

"I felt that."

"And when you left, I wanted more of you. I was so turned on and your scent was still on me, but I wasn't ready to deal with what it would mean for us to pick up again."

Bette kissed her. "I understand. Your scent was on me, too. I didn't wash my hands the rest of the afternoon and night."

Tina smiled. "It was more than nice. I'm sorry I couldn't put words to it."

"We both felt it, Tee. We didn't need words." Bette's mouth clung to Tina's mouth. Hearing Tina sigh and moan on top of her lured her in. It wasn't long before Bette had lost herself in the eroticism of the moment. Bette grasped Tina's hand and slowly inserted a finger into her mouth, going up and down on the digit, gnawing on it, then moving on to the next finger. Tina's eyes rolled back into her head as her chest heaved with each deep breath she took. Bette's mouth went back to Tina's lips and they lingered in their kiss. It had been so long since they had kissed like this. Bette couldn't recall a kiss that was sweeter. Soon, that sweet kissed caught flame and Tina's desire jumped out at her. Bette's tongue licked Tina's and Tina licked Bette's tongue. There mouths warred and danced, as they tried to swallow the other. Tina's hands were everywhere at once. One hand rubbed up and down Bette's breast, pushing it up and taut, then squeezing it hard. Bette's hips began to rock left and right and when they did, Tina tilted her hips forward, pressing against her. Tina took a deep breath and as she exhaled, Bette was up-close with Tina's breasts. She could see just how firm, full, and heavy they appeared. Bette's hands went to Tina's thighs and she slowly crept the black baby doll up and pulled it over her head leaving her in the strapless black bra that barely accommodated the creamy flesh.

"God, Tina. Your body looks incredible. You've never looked more beautiful," whispered Bette as she reached behind Tina and unfastened her bra. Tina's breasts fell out and they were huge with enormous erect nipples. "Or more desirable." Bette bent to Tina's chest, kissed her again, buried her face between her breasts. Abruptly, she pulled back. "Am I hurting you? I know they're probably tender." Bette's eyes fell to Tina's breasts.

"No, I want you to touch them."


"Definitely, but this way." She stretched out her arm and reached for the bottle of organic massage oil on the nightstand. Several weeks ago, Bette had purchased this oil the day she picked up the birthing tank. It was a fragrant mix of ginger and lemongrass, grapefruit and geranium oils designed for nursing mothers. Even then, she had been looking forward to pampering Tina, giving her long, romantic massages, and solidifying their commitment to each other. Tina poured some of the oil in her hand and rubbed her hands together to coat both with the. Together, the oils produced a spicy, provocative scent that had aphrodisiac properties. Bette leaned back and watched with interest. She focused entirely on Tina's hands and watched as they firmly latched onto Bette's mocha-colored breasts, massaging the oil onto them, making them slick and gleam in the dim light being given off from the low wattage lamp by the bed. Bette groaned. "Oh, fuck." Tina splayed her fore and middle fingers, grasped Bette's hardened nipples between them and settled at the apex of her two fingers. As she sensuously kneaded those perfectly rounded and full breasts, Tina continuously slid her fingers back and forth, keeping Bette's nipples locked between them. Tina watched as Bette's areolas tightened and pebbled. Her nipples were so erect that they were easily visible between Tina's fingers, rising above the digits. "Oh, Tee," Bette softly responded. Slowly, Bette sank lower into the bed, taking Tina into a horizontal position with her. Tina pressed her fingers together, sending sparks from Bette's nipples to various parts of her body. Bette's head pressed into the pillow. She licked her lips as her eyes closed and she went with the feeling, her entire body was aflutter and quivering. Tina continued this erotic massage, grasping the now slippery breasts, using all of her fingers to twist the rock hard nipples. Somehow, without seeming to lose contact, Tina had added more oil to her hands and the oil now dripped down Bette's breasts, over Tina's fingers, and slowly trailed down Bette's flat abdomen.

"Oh, God." Bette reached to kiss Tina and when she did, she flipped Tina over and Bette was on top of her. Tina pulled her down so that her body covered hers again. With incredible strength and stamina, Tina rhythmically guided Bette's silken body against hers, coating Bette's breasts again with the same blend of oils. Tina moaned into the contact and bit down hard on Bette's neck. Bette cried out in both pleasure and surprise.

Pushing forward, Tina battled with Bette. She wanted to be on top, wanted to see Bette lose control with her the way she had the last time, wanted to call the shots. Tina rolled over, pushing Bette onto the bed again. She slid against Bette's body in the same way she had guided Bette when she had been underneath her. As she did, she wiped a great deal of oil from their bodies and generously applied it to Bette's legs and inner thighs. The headiness of the oil was truly an aphrodisiac, but not nearly as much as being able to feast on Bette's nude body, watching her muscles ripple and tense with desire, seeing beads of perspiration shimmering in the oil, and hearing her shallow breathing accompanied by soft groans and sighs. Tina spread Bette's legs to nestle between them, but her hands reached up to touch Bette's body. She didn't grasp, rub, or tweak, but something akin to a tickle. Both hands moved all over Bette's body, but only Tina's fingertips did the touching. She danced lightly over Bette's face, tickled her cheeks, softly moved over her sensitive ears, delicately glided down the center of her nose to touch her lips. Bette immediately tried to pull those fingers into her mouth, but Tina kept moving. Her fingers traveled down her neck in such an arousing way that pink-colored patches of passion spread over Bette's neck as if Tina had used her mouth to give her love bites. Lower still, goosebumps appeared on Bette's chest when Tina's fingertips gently caressed the flesh. And with a loud sucking in of air and a gasp, Bette jerked and thrust when Tina's fingertips circled her breasts, tapped her nipples and traced the skin over her abdomen. She bucked when one of Tina's fingers dipped into her navel, but it was when she finally tickled her sensitive inner thighs that Bette really began to grind against Tina's shoulder. "Oh, my God. You're making me crazy." Bette's legs moved up and down Tina's upper body—her shoulders, back, arms. She simply couldn't stop moving. She wanted Tina so badly.

"Now you know how it feels," Tina murmured as she kept up the gentlest of assaults.

Tina rubbed Bette's thighs with her thumbs, then used her entire hand to caress a bit deeper. Tina's thumbs moved closer and closer to the spot where Bette ached, but she refused to go there. "Please, Tina. Please touch me."

"You know I will," Tina said softly. She wanted to hear her lover tell her how much she wanted her. Bette didn't know what torture Tina had planned. All Bette wanted to do was cry out in heated desire. For a moment she considered that she needed to be quiet since they were in an old, established, and staid inn--she needed to respect the other guests, but Goddamnit, Tina was barely touching the hairs that covered Bette's outer lips and it wasn't enough. It really wasn't enough.

Tina moved and Bette thought she was never going to give her what she needed, but then Tina was holding one large milk-filled breast in her hand and she guided that to Bette's center. Spreading Bette's legs even more, placing one leg over her shoulder, Tina pushed her breast into that wetness.

Both women moaned.

Tina's nipple was erect and like a finger moving over Bette's labia. With her other hand, Tina opened Bette more and slid her breast up and down her inner folds, moving over Bette's hard clitoris. Eyes the color of dark umber that had remained open and attentive closed in desire unleashed.

Bette felt the physical evidence of Tina's knowing touch between her legs. "I feel so wet." Bette groaned.

"You are, baby," Tina answered sexily. With that said, Tina pressed her breast firmly against Bette's vulva.

"I can really feel you against me. That's…" She was simply unable to continue, so overcome with arousal.

Slowly, Tina replaced her breast with her fingers. She delicately stroked Bette while moving up the bed. She lay a little bit lower than Bette, so that her fingers could continue to stroke her. Her other arm rested under Bette's shoulders and Tina pulled Bette to her, holding her against her chest. Their well-oiled breasts rubbed each other and it sent shivers down both women's spines. Tina kissed Bette. "I love you," she said when they broke away.

"I love you, too, Tina. You're my life." Although Bette's hips were in motion, she stilled enough to fully kiss Tina again. Tina swallowed each of Bette's moans as they filled her mouth and became more frequent. Again, Tina changed positions and now hovered over Bette. No longer settling for a tickling of her breasts, she bent to suck as much of Bette's breast in her mouth as she could. She was able to take it all in her mouth. She craved her so much that she wanted to consume her. Tina was ravenous.

Sparkling brown eyes tried repeatedly to remain open, to watch the sight of her entire breast disappearing into Tina's mouth, but she couldn't. Her clitoris was throbbing. Tina's touch down there was relentless and demanding; Tina's mouth unyielding. Bette was basically a quiet lover. All of her passion stayed close, not straying far from the two of them—no loud demands, but whispered requests and softly spoken exclamations. "Oh, oh. Yes. Yes, Tina. Uuuh. Ah."

Tina slowly surrendered that breast only to claim the other one. This time after sucking it into her mouth, she let it pop out only to bite down on the rigid, dark nipple. "Jesus!"

Tina pressed down, squashing her own breast against Bette's oily abdomen. Ever so slowly she moved against her. Bette reached down and caressed the outside of one of Tina's breast. She bit back the passionate scream she felt rising inside. Bette wanted to suck them, but feared hurting her. She opened her eyes to stare at Tina whom she found staring back at her. Tina knew what Bette wanted and she raised her body in order for Bette to really feel the mounds. Bette took them in her hand and hefted them gently.

"I want to…" She didn't know if she should ask.

"Suck them? I want you to." Tina moved her body until her breasts were hanging over Bette's mouth.

Bette lifted and delicately placed her lips on Tina's breast, lightly kissing just around the areola, not touching the nipple. But Tina pushed her breast into that hot and warm space and Bette began to lick and suck around her breasts. Bette could taste the oils, Tina's sweat, and her own love juices that were painted on Tina's breast. Bette licked all over Tina's breast and every inch of it was flavored with eau de Bette. Just the thought of knowing where that breast had just been, how Tina had used it to stimulate her in a way she hadn't experienced before caused another flow of lubrication to pour from her.

Tina's breasts were like those of a different woman. The last time they had made love, Tina pretty much controlled every moment of it and Bette hadn't lingered at her breasts as she was now. Bette noticed that the areolas were the diameter of a soda can. The nipples were as long as the first joint of her finger. Instead of Tina's normal rosy beige coloring, her areola and nipples were tanner. Everything about them was different and that difference extended to Tina's response. Tina's fingers had stilled and all of her thoughts went no further than Bette's mouth and how it was making her feel. "Oh, Bette. Oh, Bette. Baby. . ." Bette's hips began moving up and forward hoping to somehow get her leg around Tina's muscular thigh. .

Tina was in total synchronization with Bette. Her hips undulated above Bette's. Each woman longed for more stimulation, needing so much to grind against the other, but they each denied the other's wish.

Bette couldn't get enough. She sucked on one breast, then the other, frantically going back and forth. Licking and sucking and gently biting, then sucking some more was all she planned on doing, but the pulsating need between her legs was far too much. She could feel her juices sliding from her, trailing down from to her crack onto the linens. Bette slipped her hand down and quickly opened herself up. She fingered her clitoris as uncontrollably as she was making love to Tina's breasts. Bette felt herself rising and gasped as she moved once again from one breast to the other. It was then that Tina noticed what Bette was doing. Quickly, she pushed away from Bette's mouth and slid down her body.

"Oh, no you don't." She slapped Bette's hand away from between Bette's own legs.

"Noooo," Bette pleaded. "Tee, I need it."

"If you're going to cry out, I want it to be because of me."

"Even when I touch myself, Tina it is still all about you," Bette said breathlessly.

Tina pushed Bette's hand away and entered her lover with two fingers.

"Oh." Bette bucked.

Tina's fingers were slick, but not with oil. Bette's lubrication dampened the hair between her legs, dripped onto the sheets, and made her thighs glisten. Tina pushed in deeper and that's when her wish came true.

"Tina, yes. Feels good. I've missed you. I m-missed you, baby." Bette groaned.

Bette begged and Tina pushed deeper and withdrew only slightly.

Bette's body was stretching and constricting, her legs rigid and her abdomen tight one moment and then the next, her legs bent, her hips thrusting forward, her abdomen quivering. "Faster. Faster," she pleaded.

Tina did as commanded.

"Faster. Oh, oh. Aaaaah. Oh, yes, Tina. F-f-faster."

Tina loved hearing this, so as a reward for both women, she reached up with her other hand and palmed Bette's breast.

It seemed to be just the extra stimulation that Bette needed because her pleas took on a higher, louder volume, a reaction she'd never had before. "God." It had been so long. She needed to be filled by her, taken completely and quickly. They would have time for slow and easy later, but the fire between her legs raged and it needed quenching.

Tina didn't think she could go any faster, but she tried. Her hand blurred as she pounded deep inside and danced around as she withdrew just as quickly.

"You're so tight."

"Give. . ." Bette was beyond speech, coherent or nonsensical. She couldn't remember ever having been taken by Tina so passionately, so wildly.

"Baby, this is for you," Tina said as her thumb began to quickly flick across Bette's swollen clitoris.

"I l-l… Aahhh," she cried. Bette's well-lubricated body slid over the bed. Her upper lip curled and she squeezed her eyes shut. "I'm there. I'm..." Her body was hanging off the bed as it gyrated and bounced from one side to the other.

"I'm giving it all to you, Bette. This is for you," Tina coaxed as she watched the contortions on Bette's face—a smile, a grimace, an open-mouthed look of surprise. All in a few short moments through nothing more than body language and expressions, Bette told Tina exactly what she was feeling inside.

Again and again, Bette repeated Tina's words in her head. 'This is for you.'

Bette jerked awake, unaware of where she was. She felt for Tina beside her and accepted that she had been dreaming. Tina was in LA. The dream seemed so real and just perfect. It was the best sex dream she had had in years. Bette slid her hand down her body, between her legs, and felt how wet she was. She closed her eyes, one tear welled at the corner of her eye, her desire was so strong, her loneliness unfathomable.

No peppers, no burn. The only heat Shane felt was the heat that she and Carmen were slowly creating. They were in the kitchen still damp from their evening swim in the pool. They had worn suits because Tina's Mom was staying at Bette and Tina's house and they had seen her at the window walking and lightly bouncing a very unhappy Angelica.

Shane reached for Carmen and jerked her into her body. Carmen kissed her, rubbed her hand down Shane's back, while the other hand held Shane's neck and cheek. Their kisses deepened. Shane moved her fingers to one side of the front of Carmen's top and lifted the small patch of cloth covering her breast. She lowered her head and peeked inside.

"I don't know what the hell you're doin', but I owe you somethin' and you're not getting any of this until I finish that." She cupped Shane's crotch.

Shane laughed. "I can't have just a taste?" She pulled the cloth up and over Carmen's luscious and ample breasts. Shane knew just how to look at Carmen to get what she wanted. Carmen acquiesced and arched toward Shane's mouth. Shane played tenderly with them, then bent to suck one, then the other, then back again. Carmen's nipples grew rock hard in Shane's mouth and Shane heard her breathing become labored. Camen's hands were in Shane's hair and she yanked her back and away from her, but she held Shane's head bent forward. Now words and fingers tangled in Shane's hair, "You're going to let me inside. I've wanted it since this afternoon. You're going to let me finish, right?" Carmen whispered.

"You had your chance and fucked it up, Carm." Shane grinned.

"You just have a sensitive pussy. Too much fire, querida?"

Shane didn't answer with words. She leaned down and grabbed both of Carmen's breasts, pressing them together, the nipples nearly touching, and she moved her tongue between them, sucking on one, sucking on the other, on both together, moving her tongue up and down Carmen's cleavage. Carmen moaned and pulled a chair out from under the table. She dropped into it and the moment she sat, she grabbed for Shane's suit bottoms and pulled them down. "I've wanted to fuck you all day." She turned Shane around so that she faced the table. "Bend over."

Shane bent over the table, leaning on it. Carmen sat directly behind her and began by rubbing her ass. Her palms were spread over the flesh and she used both hands to open Shane. Before Shane knew what was happening, Carmen had buried her face in Shane's ass and was licking up and down her crack. Shane bucked forward, then back. Shane's body shook and she held on to the edge of the short end of the table. Carmen's tongue continued to slide over Shane's ass. She kissed her cheeks, licked her bottom, then moved her tongue sensuously from Shane's lower back as far down as she could go. Carmen opened Shane a bit more, narrowed her tongue, and with a painstakingly slow motion, circled Shane's asshole. "Fuck!"

The very second that she felt Carmen's tongue rimming her like that, she also felt her clit pulsating and the flow of her juices pouring out of her. "Fuck."

Carmen's fingers moved lower, below her ass and then forward. She slid them between Shane's lips, stroking her hot and wet vulva. Shane untied the top of her suit and threw it on the table. She moved back, forward, from side to side to help Carmen coat her fingers. She could feel each digit being lubricated with her wetness. Shane felt the entire back of Carmen's hand rub against her. She knew what was coming next and she clenched in anticipation. But Carmen didn't enter her. She moved her finger over Shane's clit, ran her fingers down her inner lips, and came so close to her hole that an inhale from Shane would have pulled her inside. Carmen pushed the chair back a few inches and with her other hand, she pushed on Shane's back, arching it downward. "Bend over a little more."

When Shane did, Carmen pushed in barely giving Shane an opportunity to get used to it, but it happened so fast and was so intense that she was pushing back onto Carmen's hand instantly. Carmen plunged into her, tickling the walls of her pussy, using her fingers to give Shane a most intimate massage. Carmen left the chair, dropping to her knees and continued to thrust up and into her girlfriend.

Shane rocked against Carmen's fingers. "God. God."

Carmen twisted her fingers and pressed against and rubbed the thicker patch inside Shane.

"Ah, ah. Ah. Aw, God. Carmen."

Shane pushed back, then forward, and when she went forward, she pushed the entire table a good foot until it hit the wall. Shane's head was down, hanging between her arms, her knees were slightly bent, and on the floor, beneath her, Carmen slammed into her while her other hand glided all over her ass. Goosebumps arose on Shane's butt and she was as close to whimpering as Carmen had ever heard.

"Baby, you like the way I fist your wet pussy?"

"Yeah. Oh, yeah, Carm."

Inside of Shane, Carmen had squeezed her four fingers and thumb together. Shane contracted and gripped those fingers. Carmen no longer used long thrusting motions, but barely moved her fingers. She kept pressing against that one spot and her hand filled Shane completely. Shane was the one who determined the motion. She tilted her ass up and back ever so slightly for minutes, but suddenly, she wanted and needed more. She pushed back hard, then moved forward, and back again. Carmen was up to her wrist in Shane and now Shane wanted more. Carmen scooted forward and used her free hand to wind around Shane's hand and from the front, she began to touch Shane's clit. In her position, Shane could clearly see everything—her small breasts with dark pink nipples pointing downward and erect, Carmen's hand ramming into her from behind, and Carmen's finger brushing over her clit.

"Fuck me."

"I am baby." Carmen's voice was low and husky. She was enjoying this as much as Shane. "You mean harder?"


Carmen did that. Her hand moved faster and deeper into Shane, going in as far as she could and then pulling out enough to make Shane come after her to take her in again. They kept this up for long, long minutes. Carmen felt Shane tighten around her. She felt Shane's clitoris get slicker and then the clenching started. Shane's hand was held and all around her she felt it pulsing.

The table was being moved, hitting the wall, then being pulled forward, and crashing into the wall again. Shane started to lose what little purchase she had on the table and slowly started to drop onto the floor. Carmen hurriedly changed positions as Shane fell onto her knees. Still buried inside her, Carmen kept going. She'd stop when Shane was satisfied.

Shane was on her hands and knees and Carmen snaked around her arm again, and fingered Shane's clit. Between being filled so completely and the loving motions against her clitoris, Shane was close. She freed her mind and let go of every thought she had except for what was going on between her legs.

"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck." Shane's face was red, her body flushed, her skin damp from exertion. "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, Fuck," she said as she came. Her arms gave out and she dropped onto the floor beside Carmen.

After a few minutes, Carmen slowly removed her hand and spooned against Shane's back. She held her, listening to how the heavy and deep breathing moved to a deep and sexy series of sighs, and finally to one calming, "aaah."

Carmen reached up and ran her fingers through Shane's hair, onto her shoulder, down her arm, around her waist, back up to her breast, to her face. She was surprised when she felt what she thought were tears. "Shane?"

Shane shrugged her shoulder trying to pull away from Carmen.

"Babe, what's goin' on?"


"Don't tell me this is about going to my Mom's again?"


"Everything was good, wasn't it?"

"Better," Shane mumbled.

Carmen tried to turn her over, but Shane wouldn't budge, so Carmen climbed over her and stretched out beside her on the kitchen floor so that they were face-to-face. "Shane, what are you saying?"

Shane turned her head away from Carmen. "I'll tell you, okay? Look, I don't know what this means and Carmen, I really don't want you using this against me later, all right?"

Carmen didn't try to get Shane to make eye contact this time. Whatever bomb was about to drop, she didn't think she could bear looking her in the eye and hearing it. "Okay," she whispered and then swallowed.

"I-I don't know what it is. You know I was a playa. I mean my reputation is. . .out there, ya know?"

"Yes," Carmen said tightly.

"The thing is. . ." Shane sighed, cleared her throat, and tried to continue. "The thing is that I have never come with anyone."

Carmen blinked. Could she possibly be that naïve and that out of touch with her woman's body not to know she was faking it? "Uh-huh?" She didn't want to hear it.

"I would just fuck these girls, get 'em off, and leave. Even Cherie. . ." Shane paused for a moment. ". . .just so you know. I couldn't let myself go that much. It felt good and everything, I just couldn't get there."

"But you can with me."

"I hardly ever let a woman flip me. I'm just me, Carm. I could fuck 'em, please 'em, but I could only please myself."

"Like you were doing the other day when I walked into the room?" Carmen had wondered if this was what Shane always did. It had made her edgy to think about that possibility.

"I don't know why I did that. I guess that's just what I was used to. You had gone into the shower and fuck if I wasn't still wanting it. I coulda gotten up and gone to the shower, but I just wanted to do it the way I'd been doing it."

"Do you come with me?" Carmen felt her stomach swirl at the idea of what might be the answer.

"Yeah, I do. I don't know what it means, but I let you touch me in ways I'd never let another woman touch me, and when you do, I love it and can somehow let my guard down enough to go with it." Shane didn't turn back to look at her, but she reached out her hand and found Carmen's and held it in hers. "Carmen, you make me feel great. I really love being around you."

Carmen smiled. She knew that very soon Shane would take that next step and the words 'I love you' would become commonplace for her.

"Don't be mad at me, okay?" Carmen said shyly.

Shane grunted, "Uh-huh."

"I love you."

Shane turned and stared into Carmen's eyes. She stared at her. The words were there, but they wouldn't cross her lips. The look in her eyes was enough for Carmen for now.

The next morning, Helena kept her usual nine am appointment with Tina. She was wearing a navy blue suit skirt and jacket with a grey silk blouse under it. When she walked into the room, Tina wasn't there and she walked over to the table to leave her a note. She saw Bette's itinerary sitting on top of a magazine and noticed the airline, flight, and new time of arrival. She found a small pad and scribbled a note to Tina.

Hello, love. I dropped by for a chat. I'm sorry I missed you. Cheers, Helena.

She placed it on the pillow and started out of the room. Just as she reached the door, Tina with two physical therapists walked in. Tina was pushing a walker and moving at a snail's pace with the therapists beside her.

"Tina? Hello. You're up."

"Hi, Hel. . . up. . . and. . .a-round." Tina grinned happily.

Helena walked over to her and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "Such splendid news."

"I am slow."

"Slow and steady is the way to go."

"No choith," Tina said slowly.

"You're doing very well Ms. Kennard. We'll get you back in your bed and do some muscle strengthening exercises now. You'll be back at home very soon the rate you're going," one of the therapist said.

Tina nodded.

"I won't keep you from your therapy. I was here to say hello. I've got quite a busy schedule today." She watched Tina. "I see Bette's coming home this morning."


"It'll be good to have her back, I'm sure."

Tina pretended to struggle with the walker and the therapists came to her aid as they focused on making it back to the bed.

"I'll leave you," Helena said awkwardly. She had been with Tina everyday for months and knew exactly how she played avoidance games. The coma hadn't changed that. Tina was helped into bed. When she was situated and sitting up, she saw Helena was still there. Helena smiled timidly.



"Do I wuhk for you?" She took her time getting the words out.

"As soon as you're back on your feet, the job is yours," Helena answered honestly. "I'm holding it for you."

Tina frowned, chewed on the inside of her lower lip as she tried to comprehend what she had been told. "Do we have mee-ting-s?" she questioned.

"We will, Tina. We will."

Tina nodded.

"Good luck with your. . ." Tina pointed at the large blue rubberbands the therapists were holding. "That." Helena had learned far too much about the hostility and homophobia of the Kennards last night from Whit. Their conversation left many more unanswered questions and it left her feeling uncomfortable about being at the Center. She didn't want to run into Tina's mother or sister. Whit had warned her to walk cautiously because these were not women who'd roll over easily. Helena also wasn't sure what role Tina played in this—was she aware of what was happening? Did she condone it? Was she being held hostage by her family?

"Thank you."

"Bye, now."


Tina didn't pay much attention to how the therapists were manipulating her legs. Her mind scurried and jumped from thought to thought. If she weren't working for Helena, did that also mean that she and Bette weren't having intimacy issues, that she wasn't really wanting a man in her life, and that Bette hadn't called to ask permission to sleep with Senator Grisham? Had Tina really not spoken to Bette about it? Was it just a dream?

She grunted when one of the therapists bent her knee up and then twisted her leg sideways.

Helena walked down the hall of the Center and pulled out her phone. She said, "Boden," and she waited for the call to connect to her driver who was on-call.

"Hallo," a rich and mellow voice answered. His accent was French with a hint of Wolof, the Senegalese language he spoke as a boy.

"Bonjour, Boden."

"Bonjour, Mademoiselle Peabody."

"Boden, I need you to drive me to LAX. I'm at this address. . ." Helena gave him the address of the Center. "I'll leave my car here. It's vital that we get there before 11:30. We're going to fetch my friend, Bette Porter. We need to meet her plane."

"I'll come for you immediately, Mademoiselle."

"Merci, Boden."

At 11:15 the seat belt sign had come on and the flight attendant announced that they were preparing for landing. Bette had been spent the half hour previous looking at photos uploaded onto her laptop. She scrolled through photographs she had taken of Angelica, Angelica with their friends, with Kit, and a few with Tina. She had spent a long time looking at the latter photos. Bette had thought it was a good idea to take pics of mother and daughter from the beginning, but now she wondered if Tina would want them. She looked bad. Tina would have to examine them and she could decide. Bette was excited about getting home. She missed Tina and the brief separation from their daughter had her aching with maternal longing.

Bette looked out of the window when the plane tilted left and saw the quintessential LA landscape from above—swimming pools galore, a grid of streets, and palm trees. She was happy to be home.

The plane taxied in to the gate and when the seatbelt sign went off, Bette pulled her laptop from under the seat in front of her and stood. She grabbed her garment bag on the way out, thrilled that she was one of the first off the plane since she sat in business class. Her plan was to take a SuperShuttle or cab home, but was pleasantly surprised to see the name 'Porter' being held by a driver. She told Julia that a car service was unnecessary for her return, but she appreciated the thought. She walked over to the well-dressed man.

"Hi," she pointed at the white card with her last name on it. "Are you here for Bette Porter?"

"I am." The man eyed the woman dressed in beige pants and jacket and dark brown dress tank top. "You are Ms. Porter."


"This is for you." He reached behind him and pulled an envelope from his back and handed it to her.

"What's this?"

The man turned and walked away. She was confused—was she supposed to follow him? She turned the envelope over, but there were no identifying words or marks on it. She slid her finger under the flap and opened it, pulling out a set of papers. She looked at the first page.

"What the fuck?!" she said so loudly that several people turned to stare at her, but Bette didn't notice. Her eyes went huge as she read the words on the left: Theresa Kennard, Plaintiff v. Bette Porter, Defendant and on the right: the case number and in bold print, ORDER OF TEMPORARY INJUNCTION. She started to read it. Plaintiff Kennard or "Plaintiff", by her undersigned counsel, for its Complaint against defendant Bette Porter or "Defendant" alleges as follows. . . ." Bette skimmed the pages. Theresa had filed an injunction to get Bette to cease and desist as Tina's legal and medical power of attorney.

"Bette?" Helena had walked up to her and looked over her shoulder. She saw that Bette had been served by the processor. "Bette?"

Bette turned around. Seeing Helena made no sense. She was at LAX reading legal papers that had been handed her by a stranger.

"Bette? I've got my car. I know what's happening. Whit is going to represent you?"

Bette waved the papers and envelope in her hand. "What the fuck is this?"

"Let's go to the car. I'll explain it."

"I'm being sued?" She asked incredulously. "I'm being sued by a woman who couldn't get her ass out here to see her daughter for over a fucking month and then acted like the world's best goddamn liberal mom? Living in my house?!"

Helena put her hand on Bette's back and guided her toward the door. "Is it just this bag and laptop?"

"Yes," Bette was hardly paying attention to Helena.

They walked out through the glass doors and to the black limo where Boden waited. Boden was standing at the passenger's side back door. He opened the door and Helena pushed Bette inside and followed behind her. Boden closed the door, walked to the driver's door, got in, and began his journey east.

"She's trying to take away my rights as Tina's caregiver? She can't be serious. Do you know what this shit says?" Bette demanded.

"I spoke with Whit yesterday, but I don't know the complaint detail by detail."

Bette tossed the papers on Helena's lap. "There, see for yourself." She rested her chin on her fisted hand and stared out the window. "What fucking next? I've had it. I've goddamn had it." Helena watched her boil over. She was certainly glad that Bette Porter wasn't behind the wheel or in a SuperShuttle with seven strangers who'd feel her wrath.

Helena pulled her reading glasses from her purse and read over the papers. "Uh-huh, uh-huh," she said occasionally. "Hmmm." She turned the page. "Oh, bloody ridiculous."

Bette was beginning to hyperventilate as her anger continued to rise. Helena looked at her, then put a hand on her forearm. "Bette, calm down."

Burning eyes turned on her. "Don't tell me to calm down, Helena. This is my life that the Kennards are fucking with. I won't calm down. I knew Stephanie was out to get me, but their mother? She's been acting like she cares the whole time she's been out here. I've let her take care of my daughter. They wanna fuck with me, then they'd better be ready for it," Bette threatened. Helena looked at her. Those many months she had screwed over Bette's career and dated her ex-lover, she had never seen Bette seethe the way she was now. It was frightening to see the vein in the middle of her forehead protruding, the vein in her neck throbbing, and her fingers curling in fists.

Bette's mobile phone rang and she yanked it from her purse and flipped it open. "Un-fucking-believable." She looked at Helena and with her eyes pointed at the phone. "My house." She waved the hand holding the phone dismissively. "Theresa Kennard." She hit 'yes' to answer the call. "Hello," Bette said bitingly.

"Hi, Bette. I take it you landed safely," Theresa's soft southern accent welcomed her home.


"Are you goin' to the Centah, first or will you stop by here."

"I'm on my way to my home." Bette rolled her eyes. "How's Angelica?" Her lips were pursed, so tight that Helena was amazed that Bette could speak comprehensible words.

"She's doin' fine, honey. Kit's here keepin' us company. We all want to hear about your trip and. . . ."

"Could you put Kit on the phone?"

"Sure, hon." Theresa could hear something odd and cold in Bette's voice. "Hold on a sec."

Bette waited, shaking her head in irritation the entire time. How could Theresa put on this front? She must have run to the courthouse yesterday. Deceiving monster. Kit picked up the phone. "Hey, Baby Sis. How're you doin'?"

"Listen, Kit," Bette began behind gritted teeth. "I want her out of my house by the time I get home." Bette didn't bother with pleasantries.

"Huh? Who? What you mean?"

"Hold on." She turned to Helena. "Are we going straight to West Hollywood?"

"Boden?" Helena said and pushed a well-hidden button. "I'll have you drop me off for my car later. For now, we'll go straight away to West Hollywood."

Bette figured they were forty-five minutes away. She returned to the phone. "I. . .want. . .her. . .out of my. . .house in 40 minutes. Help her pack her shit or whatever. Just make sure that Theresa Kennard is gone by the time I get there."

"What's going on, Bette?" Kit was anxious. She hated it when her sister moved onto that launching pad. No one had a temper like Bette's. She may have gotten the attitude from Melvin, but the explosive response had to be from Maxine. Kit didn't know Bette's mother all that well, but when Maxine walked out, Melvin and Bette were left broken. Bette could leave a path of destruction in her wake, too.

"I will not be backstabbed in my own house. I have tolerated a lot of shit these past few months, but it stops now. It fucking stops!" She screamed into the phone. "Get her out, Kit. Get her out of my house." She closed the phone and slammed it back into her purse.

Helena turned to face her. "Bette, you're not going to take this on by yourself. I'll help you and Whit will act as your counsel. They'll wish they'd never seen us."

Bette grabbed the papers out of Helena's hand and glanced over them again. "She wants to play with me? That double-crossing bitch and her homophobic cunt daughter want to take me on? Oh, no."


The Barbara Grisham/Bette Porter foreplay scene (entire scene from Season 3, Episode 4);
The Barbara Grisham/Bette Porter sex scene dialogue (Season 2, Episode 9 ("you feel so good…"); Season 1, Episode 1 ("I'm lucky to have you" and "this is you")

Part 13

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