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.
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 Nine

The Next Morning – One Month and Three Days after Angelica's Birth

Theresa Kennard and Bette Porter were seated on the deck at one of the large outdoor tables at the Planet. Since Kit became owner of the café, the gang's influence and clout had risen tremendously. They always had their choice of table and more than a few times customers had been asked to relocate to accommodate Kit, her sister, and their group of friends. Theresa looked at home in the funky café. She was wearing black jeans and a white and black, short blanket-like serape shirt. Her tortoise-shell sunglasses were propped on top of her blonde head. Bette, on the other hand, looked like the stereotypical LA hipster dressed in all black—a low cut, u-neck, C and C tank with black flared trousers and jacket. She had a meeting later in the morning and had to look the part--edgy, artsy, and professional.

Bette watched Kit move through the main room carrying a bowl filled with an assortment of muffins. Dana, in black competitive running shorts and a quick-dry grey top was standing at the counter having a casual talk with Lara. Kit greeted her.

"Good morning."

"Hi, Kit," Dana smiled and immediately returned her focus to Lara.

Kit looked at them and arched an eyebrow, then glanced down at the floor. "Good, good. Good to see that we took care of that little problem."

Dana looked down and Lara leaned over the counter and also cast her eyes to the floor. "What problem?" Lara asked.

"The moss problem. Ain't no moss growing under your feet, I see." She directed the last comment to Dana whose smile was so weakly pathetic, that she looked like she was about to vomit the energy muffin that Lara had made her eat.

"Ha. Funny." Dana smirked.

Kit continued to her sister's table.

"Bette, you've been doin' so much, I'm worried that you're going to burn out," Theresa sat beside her while Angelica, in the stroller next to her Nani, stared at her fingers.

"I'm doing fine, Theresa. It's unfortunate to say, but things are becoming routine. I know what I need to do each day and I'm getting them done. I'm lucky to have you and a great support system…" Kit arrived at the table and placed the muffins in the center. "Hi, Kit. I was just talking about you."


"You and everyone--that I'm lucky to have this kind of support from all of you." Bette turned back to Theresa. "Kit keeps me fed, is always there when I need help with Angelica, visits with Tina…"

"Of course, I do. You're family. Tina's family."

"Thank you for sayin' that, Kit."

"I wouldn't say it if it wasn't the truth. Tina's my sister as much as Bette."

Bette couldn't help but smile up at her older sister. Kit, who had been so unpredictable, irresponsible, and selfish through all of Bette's formative years and hadn't changed as Bette became a young adult, moved from the East Coast to LA, and throughout Bette's first years living here, was now an entrepreneur, making decisions for herself, a staff of 30, and suddenly available when Bette needed a hand, a shoulder, or a non-judgmental ear. She couldn't ask for more or better.

"Tina has always spoken well of you," Theresa said, but there was a hint that she might know about Kit's many foibles, too.

Kit was ashamed of her past. She bit her lower lip nervously and glanced around the Planet. Her eyes lighted on Lara and Dana.

"Here's an idea, Dana." Lara grinned.


Lara's eyes warmed over Dana's face. She whispered, "Why don't you come to Paris with me?"

"Paris? France?" Dana looked incredulous.

"I've applied to school—a culinary academy. Plus, I'd like to give it a shot living there."

"Paris? When were you going to tell me?" Dana hadn't made a decision to do anything about their unresolved issues. She was taking it slowly, not showing any cards, remaining non-committal about the future, but she wondered had she known of Lara's possible European plans if she would have broken it off with Alice.

"I was going to. I wasn't sure where we stood or if it would even matter to you."

"Where do we stand? You're telling me that you're picking up and leaving. Where does that leave us standing?" Dana crossed her hands over her chest.

"I have no idea, Dana. It's not a done deal, but you've pretty much shut me out of your process. You're with Alice, you tell me you still have feelings for me, you know I have feelings for you, you break up with her, and then you hang with me like we're party buddies. I don't want to be your best friend."

"What does that mean? You don't want to be friends?" Dana didn't like Lara very much at that moment.

"I said I don't want to be your best friend. I really want to be your lover again. That's what I want. All I want. You've got a best friend in Alice."

"Ya think? No…" Dana glared at her and rocked back and forth on her heels, "as a matter of fact, I don't have Alice as a friend now. What did you think, Lara? That I could break up with her and she'd call and ask if I want to go to Nordstrom's for a makeover. That is so not going to happen."

Lara lowered her voice, hoping that Dana would follow suit. "Let's not fight." Lara took a long, dramatic breath, put her hands out as if to say, let's stop this. "What I really wanted to say is I want to be with you and I think it would be so totally romantic if we spent a few months," she said with a smile, "in the city of love, the city for lovers."

Dana relaxed, but her arms remained crossed.

"I'm not trying to push you or force your hand, but let me just add this--you can do all the European tours, fly back to the States to tour here, they have great clubs in and around Paris to practice. I talked to the tennis pro at our Club and he gave me some names."

"I know who's out there in France, Lara."

"I'm just excited. Sorry."

"My family is here." Dana began to explain why moving to Paris wouldn't work.

"Your parents would love to visit us…you in Paris. And Howie, my God, the gay nightlife is supposed to be awesome there."

Dana grimaced. "Please, I do not want to think about my brother in the middle of gay Par-eeeee hooking up with some clove-smoking French guy in tiny, tight European shorts, carrying a long baguette."

Lara laughed. "The baguette? Is that a euphemism for something?"

Dana's eyes went huge and she looked at her in shock. "Yuck. So yuck."

Lara knew that Dana wasn't going to make a decision today, but she gave her something to think about. It would be revisited later. "Anyway, I don't want to keep you from your run."


"Are we okay? Fight, over?"

Dana smiled just as the barista who was also waiting tables passed by carrying a tray of coffees. She walked across the room, up the step and onto the deck, placing coffees where Kit sat.

"So what are your plans today?" Kit asked.

"I'm supposed to meet Helena Peabody here to discu…"

"You did not just say that you're meeting Miz Helena?"

Bette laughed. "I did." She chuckled. "I know."

"I'll have to ask my ice and beverage man to start getting his ice from hell, since it just froze over."

Bette nearly snorted. "I don't hate her…" she paused before adding, "Much."

"So what's the story with you and Helena 'I Own the Whole Damn World' Peabody?" Kit questioned.

Helena and Alice walked in from the street onto the deck, not entering the interior of the café, but walking up on the table behind Kit.

Helena placed her hand on Kit's shoulder and bent to whisper in her ear. "I don't own the whole world, yet, love, but I'm looking into it."

Kit virtually blushed. "Oh, uh…hi there."

Bette looked at Helena and truly smiled at her. "Helena. Thanks for meeting me." Bette turned to Theresa. "Theresa Kennard, this is Helena Peabody, a friend of…ours. Helena, this is Tina's mother."

Helena held out her hand, her fingers waterfalling downward as she took Theresa's hand. "Yes, yes. It's a pleasure. When Tina and I were together she mentioned you often."

Theresa looked at Bette who was close to growling at Helena. "When we were separated," Bette said under her breath.

"Nice to meet you."

"So, Theresa," Helena began quite informally, "We're all certainly delighted that you were able to get out to California. I remember Tina said that you were in Nicaragua last year."

"In that area, yes. I was workin' in Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador…." Theresa let the list sort of fade away, not wanting to highlight her work.

"Funny, that. Tina's quite the homebody, but she related numerous stories of your world travels." Helena said as she took a seat at the table and pulled Alice down into the chair next to hers.

"Tina's always been that way. When she feels safe, she's happy." Tina's mother said. Bette lowered her eyes, remembering the day Tina had told her she wasn't feeling safe. Tina had no idea just how uncertain their lives were about to become. They would lose the baby, a gulf would grow between them that couldn't be bridged, and Bette would have an affair. They would separate and it would take almost a year to reconcile. Theresa continued, "But she does love to travel, she just didn't want to make a career of it like her Mama."

"Right," Bette said returning to the conversation. "Tina would never rough it the way you have, Theresa. Tee's got to have her amenities. She's up for just about anything as long as she has a decent bed and her own bath to return to at night."

"Stephanie's the same way."

Bette's jaw clenched. Her mouth was closed, but behind her lips, she gritted her teeth.

"My girls don't understand my lifestyle."

"The Peace Corps is a lifestyle?" Bette honestly grinned at this, a smile that went up to her eyes.

"Not a lifestyle, per se, but a way of life. I won't say that it's altruism that has me doin' this job, 'cause I'll tell y'all, it feels good. Knowin' that I'm helpin' others, bringin' potable water to a village where they had no drinkin' water at all, showin' local farmers how to rotate crops for success, or gettin' a cottage industry of crafts created by women distributed globally makes ya feel like you've done somethin' with your life."

Kit, Helena, and Bette, nodded, but Alice was staring inside and watching intently as Lara and Dana conversed. She reached for Helena's arm to get her attention.

"What is it, Alice?" Helena had been listening to Theresa and not particularly interested in more of Alice's bemoaning. She'd heard it from Malibu to West Hollywood—a forty minute drive.

"Dana," she whispered. "Lara."

Everyone looked inside.

"Alice, they're just talking. Take it easy," Bette lightly scolded.

"I gotta go."

Alice leapt from her chair, turned on her heels, and raced out of the area, just as Dana turned and saw her fleeing.

"God, Alice," Dana said to Lara. "I should go talk to her."

"Are you going to go back with her?"


"Then talking to her isn't going to make her feel very good. Just let her go for now," Lara reasoned.

"Well, yeah, you're probably right. I guess I should go for my run."

"Okay. Bye." Just as Dana was about to leave, Lara grabbed her arm and pulled her back. She kissed her very lightly on the cheek and said, "Have a good rest of the day. Don't forget lunch."

Dana smiled and changed from a regular West Hollywood lesbian with relationship issues into a world class athlete out for a long run. She waved goodbye to her table of friends.

"Poor, Alice," Helena said.

"What are you doing with her?" Kit wondered aloud.

"Oh, that," Helena began with a wave. "She rang me up last night. Car trouble in Malibu and she asked me to come fetch her. She stayed the night and I arranged for her car to be retrieved. We drove in together."

Bette eyed Helena suspiciously and speculated about Helena's motives. Was her plan to usurp the relationship she had built with Alice and take her on as a close friend? It wouldn't surprise her. Whatever or whomever Bette had, Helena seemed to want. Bette cleared those thoughts from her head. She needed to stick to her own plan. She required Helena's help and getting ticked off about Helena's childish desire to possess the objects and loves of others only muddied the waters. "Helena, I made copies of the entire file. Again, I want to thank you for this. I really didn't know to whom I should turn."

"I feel privileged that you came to me." The way Helena said this sounded more like a reminder that Bette was indebted to her than a gracious offer. "My assistant, Melissa is on her way here to run these over to Whit."

"Thanks so much." Helena sat down and looked like she was ready to settle in for a while.

"Uh, Kit, could I talk to you for a second?"

"Sure, baby sis. What is it?"

"An idea. A thought." Bette stood, excused herself from the table and Kit followed behind her. Helena and Theresa watched them depart and saw Bette talking a mile a minute and Kit nodding.

"I'll do it. I know he won't have a problem with it. Just tell me what you want me to get," Kit said to Bette.

A few minutes later, Kit was on The Planet's phone usually reserved to accept takeaway orders and Bette returned to the table, stopping to pick up Angelica who was wide awake and gurgling. Bette sat down cradling Angelica in her arms. "Well," Bette started, "Theresa, I'll have to drop you off at Tina's? I've got a meeting this morning. I don't know what Tina's full schedule is today, but they are bringing in two physical therapists to work on mobility, moving those muscles for her, so her legs don't atrophy. Dr. McPherson said that her legs seemed a bit tight. I suppose you can be with her then? I won't get back until the afternoon. Stephanie will be coming by, right?"

"Probably around eleven."

"Bette, it's all set up. 4:30 pickup," Kit shouted across the room.

Bette's grin was toothy and her eyes were bright. She looked at Theresa and Helena like a woman quite pleased with herself. She pulled her cell out of her purse, flipped it open and speed-dialed Shane. The phone rang a few times, but then Bette heard Shane's groggy and gravely morning voice, "Hullo?"

"Shane, it's Bette. Sorry for calling so early. I'm wondering if you bunnies could give it a rest and do me a huge favor?"

"Sure, what's up?"

"It involves you driving to Pasadena and back during rush hour."

"What's in Pasadena?"

"An order is waiting for me. It'll be ready by 4:30 and he'll be expecting you. Just give him my name. And then could you bring it up to Tina's?"

"Yeah, I can do that. Not a problem. Where am I going?"

"It's at 36 East…"

"Wait a sec. Let me get somethin' to write with." Bette could hear Shane moving around. "Carm? Baby? Hand me that pen and pad on the table next to your side."

The muffled voice of Carmen said, "You get it. Just climb over me."

Bette heard more movement, then laughter, and a groan, then Shane said, "Not now, Carmen. I've got Bette on the phone. She needs us to do something for her." Shane answered into the mouthpiece, "Okay, Bette. Go ahead."

Bette gave all of the pertinent information and hung up the phone, looking like the proverbial cat that ate the canary.

"You seem awfully proud of yourself, Bette." Helena commented with curiosity.

"I am that."

Bette's meeting was with Julia, one of her art associates and friends. This was one of the "passion projects" she had accepted for a small stipend. Today, she and Julia planned on finalizing which pieces of art would be displayed at the exhibition entitled, "Feminism is More Powerful." Bette was looking forward to showing Julia the piece de resistance of the collection, the Guerilla Girls' The Ultimate Patriot Act. That wall art would be butted on either side by the mixed media work of Jennifer Linton and the photography of Victoria Van Dyke. Bette couldn't cancel the meeting with Julia and by now, she knew she wouldn't make it on time, if she had to stop at the neuro-trauma center beforehand. Helena agreed to drop Theresa off at the Center, since she was going for her visit, too. Bette worried about Theresa spending too much time with Helena. Helena would either try to ingratiate herself in Theresa's life, tossing money left and right and name dropping whenever possible or she would simply drive Theresa crazy. There was no telling what damage control Bette would be doing later and she said her goodbyes reluctantly.

Carmen and Shane were in the shower. Carmen soaped Shane's body, lathering soap all over her front, and then slid her body against her. She started to grind into her and Shane grinned through the stream of water.

"Umm, that feels great. Good way to wake up, huh?" Carmen said softly.

"Very good." Surprisingly, Shane stepped back, took the soap from Carmen and used it on herself, leaving Carmen to bathe herself as well.

"Hey, what's with all the shade?"

"It's not you," Shane said and pulled Carmen into her, crushing their breasts together. "I've just been thinking about Chase's offer."

"I thought you had decided. You wanted to work at 'Wax.' What are you thinking?"

The women continued to shower as they talked. "One chair. That sounds good on paper, but it means I can't have slow days. It's just the two of us paying rent here. I need to bring in a lot more money than a couple of heads every day."

"Yeah, but I think Chase is right. One chair, long line to get to you. You're going to be the hottest hair stylist in West LA."

"And what happens on those days when I have appointments and it rains or the sky stays cloudy or…I mean, most of my clientele will be skateboarders. Yeah, they might make an appointment, but will they keep it?"

"It's your own space, Shane. You told me you hated working for other people."

Shane tossed her head back and let the water run on her face and hair. She straightened and shook her hair. "Definitely. I mean, when Cherie bought me my own place, I can't begin to tell you how that…"

Carmen glared at Shane, pulled the shower curtain back, and exited the tub, leaving a bewildered Shane.

At the Center, Angelica was again napping in her roomy stroller/buggy while Helena and Theresa chatted.

"Your friend, Alice? Is she goin' to be aw right? She seemed very outta sorts."

"Alice is overwhelmed. Her world has just gone down the loo."

"Because of this thing with Dana?"

"Right. Dana is sick about it. When I saw her this morning, it was apparent that Dana is trying to keep a stiff upper lip. I think we'll see it come out in her game. All of this stress can't be good for her."

"You girls have a lot of drama going on in your lives."

"If you only knew," Helena laughed.

Theresa walked over to Tina, leaned over her, then turned her head and glanced at Helena. "Did you and Tina date long?"

"Not really. It was casual." Helena didn't want to talk about how she had decorated her home to include a nursery for the baby, how she even bought the house because Tina loved it, how at every outing, Tina always found a way to mention Bette or be reminded of her. She would continue to refer to their relationship as casual until she believed it.

Theresa sensed there was more, but also that Helena didn't want to discuss it. Being in the Peace Corps, sometimes you couldn't communicate with a person because of language differences, so you learned to read body language. Body language told Theresa that Helena had been hurt, but was moving on. She looked at Tina. "I keep thinkin' what is it that I can do to bring her back to us? Ya know, Tina's a fighter. She has always pushed for what she wanted, so I know somewhere inside there, she's strugglin' to get out." Her eyes returned to Tina. "Keep pushin', sweetheart. Act like you've got a machete and cut your way through it; act like you're dealin' with those studio bastards."

Helena's ears perked up. "You see Tina so differently than I. I find her to be nurturing and calm, often rather passive—not wanting to hurt others."

Theresa straightened and looked at Helena. "Yes, that's Tina, too. But in college she was involved in everything—student council, the student environmental action coalition, she worked on the school paper, the Daily Tarheel. She had an opinion about every issue on campus, she fought for what she believed."

"Yes, I definitely saw that with the Center for Social Justice. She wrote the grant proposal for the Center and applied to my Foundation. The Board was unanimous and Tina was the recipient of the largest grant the Peabody Foundation has ever bestowed."

"That's just what I'm talkin' about. She can convince you to do anything. When she moved to Los Angeles, she wanted to try her hand in the film business. She paid her dues as a Reader. She spent most weekends readin' and writin' one page synopses of the scripts for the production staff. Later she moved to Development and became… what did she call it?" Theresa lifted her head to the ceiling in thought. "Oh, yeah, a 'D-Girl.' Tina had been well liked by those businessmen. She was cute, southern, and smart; my girl was fast-tracked and moved up to a position as Development Executive within a year."

"I had no idea."

"Well, I was happy when she and Bette decided to have a child 'cause she left the studio. That place was turnin' her into somethin' that wasn't good. She was takin' all kinds of prescription drugs to get through the day. Short-tempered, highly stressed, too thin, too many lunch time martinis. Tina told me about it and as much as I knew she loved it, it was eatin' her up."

"That is not the person I know at all. I wouldn't want Tina to fall into bad habits, but when she's well, if she's interested in returning to a studio setting, I'd love for her to have a go at it again, working beside me."

"I'm not sure how I feel about that, but that's gonna be Tina's choice."

"May I confide in you?" Helena said conspiratorially.

"By all means."

"I had my cards read the other day. A tarot card reading."

Theresa smiled. "Oh, how excitin'. I have friends who 'read.'

"Yes. Well, this woman was brilliant. She knew everything. She knew about my new venture and said that the cards were telling her that I needed someone close to me that I could trust working with me and from everything else she said, I'm absolutely convinced it's Tina."

"That's good for you and for Tina. Perhaps, that's a sign that she will come out of this whole."

"I have no doubt." Helena smiled down at Tina.

Tina was on her back. Behind those closed lids, her mind was churning out her alternate life. In Tina's mind, Angelica had just had her six month birthday.

Time was moving so fast and Tina felt that her life had been on hold since the baby was born. She and Bette were learning how to be mothers and Bette was still trying to control the breastfeeding, the babysitting schedule, and all things related to Angelica. They still had another visit from the wheelchair-bound Ms. Collie to muddle through, and Bette was still spending like their lifestyle hadn't changed. This newest wrinkle in their lives would cause another fight and standoff. How was she going to break this news to Bette? Helena Peabody had offered her a great job as the head of Development at her new film studio. Tina would be a fool to say no to it. One, the Porter-Kennard household desperately needed an income. They were barely making ends meet and Bette was making no effort to find work. It wasn't that Tina wanted to work with Helena, but financially, she couldn't walk away from it. Two, this was work Tina loved and was good at. She didn't have to get out there and recreate herself because she knew Development and she had an instinct for what made a good project and what didn't. She had solely green-lighted seven major films in her years at Alphaville. Her heart was racing just thinking about all she could do at Helena's studio. Three, she felt nothing for Helena sexually, so Bette had no reason to be jealous…of her. Tina had decided. It didn't matter if Bette had a problem with her taking the job, she was going to do it and Bette would either get over it or pretend to get over it. Tina was going to put her foot down about this. Bette didn't have a choice. Tina drove home from her meeting with Helena and promised herself that she'd tell Bette her plans. She geared up for an argument.

Carmen was in the converted garage. Shane sat on the deck reading a skate boarding magazine, occasionally glanced toward the garage with exasperation. Finally, she stood up and walked to the garage door. Carmen had her head cocked to the side, the cushion of the headphone pressed against her ear. Shane could plainly hear the music coming through the phone. She stood and watched Carmen spin moving her hand from one turntable deck to the other, slowing the records down, scratching a beat by repeating sections of the song, playing both songs with the same amount of volume, then turning down one, then bringing the sound back up. She was a master at this and Shane found it invigorating to watch.

Carmen looked up and saw Shane leaning against the door smiling at her. She shook her head and returned to her music. Shane had to approach her. She wasn't going to let Carmen be pissed at her all day long. She walked over slowly. Shane knew that Carmen was watching her even though their eyes didn't meet again. She knew that Carmen could feel her walking around her, standing behind her, and breathing over her shoulder. Carmen kept mixing her music. When Carmen refused to acknowledge her, Shane reached around her, pulled the earphone plug out of the mixer, and music filled the air.

"What the fuck is wrong with you, Carmen?"

"What do you think, Shane? You're not stupid."

"I'm clueless. Wait, is this about Cherie Jaffe? What the fuck does she matter?" Shane turned the volume down. The music of the Pussycat Dolls and Kelly Osbourne faded out.

Carmen turned to face her. "Why do you think? Cherie was going to make all of your dreams come true. She was rich and hot and wanted to make you happy."


"If she hadn't pushed you away, you'd still be with her, still fucking her, and for doing that, you'd have your own shop, making a ton of money."

"I don't turn tricks anymore. I resent that. And anyway, she's not here. I don't know what the problem is."

"If she had decided to leave her husband and be with you, you would have jumped at it. Don't lie to me and say you wouldn't."

"But she didn't. We both moved on. She's with her husband. I'm with you."

"Okay." Carmen moved around the room like she was a litigator in a courtroom. "Okay, let's say that I wasn't in the picture and Cherie just reappeared and said to you that she made a mistake, she left her husband, and wants to be with you. I'm not in the picture. You don't know me. What would you do?"

"I don't know." Shane hedged.

"What would you do? Just tell me. Just be honest and tell me."

Shane shook her head. Women might call her a cad, a player, an ass, and devoid of emotion, but no one could say that she was a liar. "If I didn't know you, then yeah, I'd be with her."

Carmen rolled her eyes and was about to flee from Shane, but Shane grabbed her and kissed her hard. When she moved away, she stared deep into Carmen's eyes. "The one who is out of the picture is Cherie. You're here and you're who I want. If Cherie walked in here right now, I'd introduce you. Carmen, this is Cherie. Cherie, this is my girlfriend, Carmen. For real."

"For real."

"Baby, for real."

They kissed.

KCRW was running an old 'Best of the Chart' program because Alice had called in sick. In her apartment, Alice lay sprawled across her bed, hugging her pillow and listening to 89.9's Alice Pieszecki from happier days making jokes about the linkages between old lesbians, baby dykes, thirty year old bisexuals, and fifty year old transgendered male to female and female to male persons.

"You know that commercial about STDs. You know the one…You've got a girlfriend and when you sleep with her you're sleeping with her ex and that person's ex and that person's ex and so on and so on…Well, it's true. I've been working on this chart for over a year and I'm out of room. Many of you are wondering what criteria I use for the Chart. Is it a date? Is it 2nd base groping, 3rd base fondling, or scoring a homer with some down and dirty old-fashioned f…. Well, this is a public radio station, so there's no need for me to use one of the FCC's censored words, but I think you know what I'm talking about."

Alice listened, but her mind barely registered what was being said. Her mind was only on Dana and how she felt seeing Dana and Lara together at the Planet. She was crushed. She felt like fate had trampled over her every dream. She thought about when Tonya had been Dana's fiancée and how she and Dana had agreed to be cautious, noting their mutual attraction, but attempting to refrain from acting upon it. If only she hadn't acted—Tonya would be broken-hearted right now and Alice would have just been the good friend to help Dana through the difficult breakup. But no, she acted on that attraction and they became lovers and it was perfect.

"Now, I was looking at the lines going from my name." Radio Alice continued, "As all of you know, I'm bisexual, but I'm in a committed lesbian relationship with Dana Fairbanks—the tennis player. I have many more lines than Dana. She has a few—the last ones being Tonya and Lara, her last girlfriends before me. Will there be other lines going from me to others or from Dana to others? I don't know. Wait, yes I do. The only way that I'd have another line added to the chart leaving my name is if I forgot someone and am just adding her in or Dana turns out to be some weird, hacking people up beside the freeway-taking out their organs-and burying bodies in her parents' backyard kind of person…huh? Oh, my producer has a message for me." Alice on the radio laughs. "She's holding up a sign. Oh. Ohhhh. I need to dispense with the gore." Alice giggles. "My bad." Anyway. Dana. Dana. What can I say that I haven't said the last 20 times I've been on the air? Being in love makes you lose track of your brain. Maybe they should change that frying egg commercial about drugs to be about love. They show a regular egg in the shell and the announcer says, 'this is your brain celibate and loveless. Then they show the frying eggs and the announcer says, 'this is your brain in love.' Cause it's totally true. And just to prove to you how cheesy in love I am, I'm going to play a song for you this afternoon." Alice on the radio is nearly hysterical with laughter. "This is my brain in love." Music starts. Toni Tennille, accompanied by The Captain begins to sing, 'Muskrat, Muskrat, candlelight, doin' the town and doin' it right in the evenin'…' Alice is talking over the song as it continues, "This is my brain in love. It's not my fault. This is my brain in love."

Alice sobbed.

Theresa and Angelica watched as two physical therapists worked with Tina, moving her legs as if she were on a bicycle and exercising her arms in two ways--as one would lift weights and later, doing circles as part of a calisthenics routine. Theresa watched Tina's face carefully and was almost sure she had seen Tina frown as the exercises progressed. Dr. McPherson monitored her movements and made notes on his chart and gave his physician's aide new duties.

Dr. McPherson was livid and it showed in his curt comments. "I want all of our patients scheduled for routine checkups. Just because they're comatose or in a vegetative state, doesn't mean they can't get other diseases and illnesses."

"Doctor, you're not responsible in any way for Ms. Heflin's current state."

"I've been far too lax and as the Chief of this Center, I can't afford to be."

Theresa, who was more focused on her daughter, didn't move her eyes away from Tina, but her ears concentrated on the conversation between the doctor and the physician's aide.

"I want all of these patients' primary care physicians in here checking up on their patients. If someone is scheduled for a colonoscopy, I want it done. If it's time for a patient's annual pap, I want it done. Blood tests—done." Dr. McPherson flipped through Tina's medical history. "Look, she's had a lumpectomy. I want Dr. Wilson over here today."

"She's scheduled to see Tina tomorrow. I'll call her office and let her know what you expect."

Theresa had been listening intently, but knew she couldn't say anything due to patient confidentiality.

The physical therapists were finished. They packed up their therapeutic rubber bands, rubber tubing, and bungee cords and their measuring tools. "We're finished doctor. I'll write up my report, but there was the beginning of some atrophy in patient Kennard's left leg muscle. We do see some loss of muscle mass here. There are some specific exercises that will target those areas."

The therapists walked out while Dr. McPherson remained with his aide. "Okay, I want to push some different types of physical therapy at this juncture. Her last MRI shows no bilateral lesions. I think we're about to see a big change. Keep monitoring her 24 hours. Make sure Dr. Wilson sees me tomorrow."

The aide nodded and the two said goodbye to Theresa as they continued with their rounds. Theresa heard the Doctor in the hall. "How the hell is it that we weren't at least giving monthly exams? For the sake of her doctor that breast biopsy had better come back benign. His neglect is not going to become my malpractice suit."

Tina was shocked when she heard the news. Dana, sick. Dr. Wilson doing a biopsy. Alice sad and worried. She hoped that they wouldn't find anything.

Bette pulled into a recently vacated parking spot on Melrose Ave. She got out of the car, fished for a few quarters and fed the meter. After leaving Julia's office, she drove straight back to West Hollywood. Julia had told her about two books that might be good for her to read at this time in her life. She walked into the Bodhi Tree and went straight to the sales clerk. She didn't have time to look around. Bette just wanted to get the books and go. She told the clerk the books she wanted, 'Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart,' (which she didn't think was possible. She was determined to keep it together for as long as she had to. She thought she would fall apart if she had even the slightest crack in her foundation at this point). Maybe Mark Epstein's book could show her another way. She bought a few others including 'Comfortable with Uncertainty' and again doubted this book could make her life better, but she was willing to try. Bette knew she wasn't comfortable right now and her life was nothing but uncertainty.

After she left the bookstore, she called Theresa in Tina's room. Theresa suggested that Bette go home and return in the afternoon as planned, but Theresa wouldn't be leaving with her. She explained to Bette that she and Stephanie would spend the evening together with Stephanie's soon-to-be in-laws allowing Bette to spend so quality time with Tina and Angelica. Bette didn't want to see Stephanie, so she happily agreed to that arrangement.

At home, Bette turned on a stove burner and placed a kettle of water there to heat. She opened up her bag of books and flipped through each one before settling on the Pema Chodron book, 'Uncomfortable with Uncertainty.' The afternoon flew by. Bette was engrossed in the various messages she read in the book. Some of the thoughts hit home in a way that had Bette weeping on the sofa and feeling like she could get through all of this, be vulnerable, and come out the other end a stronger woman; she wouldn't plunge into this depression that had been lying in wait since her father died.

Theresa Kennard had fallen asleep holding Angelica safely in a baby sling against her chest. Around 2:45pm, Stephanie Kennard entered her sister's room.

"Hi, Mom," Stephanie announced her presence. She had a huge smile on her face.

"You're as late as can be, Stephanie," Theresa said as she sat up, barely waking Angelica. "Don't tell me the traffic was so backed up that it took you three hours to get here."

"No, not at all. I've been here a while." She waved a sheet of paper in the air. "I've had an interesting couple of hours with Ms. Benson."

"The administrator? Why?" The hair on Theresa's head stood up.

"Well, it seems that Bette's Medical Power of Attorney was made and signed about four years ago."

"So? They always intended…"

"No, no, no, Mom. Tina and Bette weren't together last year. They had just sort of reconciled days, not even a week before the baby was born. Tina had been finished with Bette. She told me. I know she wouldn't want Bette making decisions for her now. Tina wasn't sure if they were back together for good. We're her family. We should be making these decisions. I called one of the professors I know at Duke. He knows all about this kind of Family Law. We have rights as blood relatives."

Theresa was on her feet and in Stephanie's face. Instantly, Theresa was beet red with anger. "Don't you dare—don't you dare do anything to change the way Bette and Tina are doin' things. Bette can't be more carin'; she's put her whole goddamn life on hold to take care of your sister, Stephanie. You're being one helluva B-I-T-C-H."

"I love Tina. She can get great care in North Carolina. Duke has a wonderful Neuro-trauma clinic. She'd be just minutes from us by car instead of hours by plane. Her family's in North Carolina."

"You have lost your damn mind. I didn't raise you to act this way, behave this way, be so cruel."

"We're not discussing your parenting skills or lack thereof, mother."

"I want you to stop actin' this way." Theresa tried to keep her voice down since she was holding Angelica, but Angelica began to fuss, Theresa removed her from the sling, put her in the stroller, and turned on the motorized mobile just above her. Instantly, Angelica was lost in the color and movement of the art.

"I've got that professor writing up the papers. We're gonna get an injunction. Bette's Medical Power of Attorney is fraudulent."

"It isn't. They're together."

"Well, too bad, Tina isn't awake to tell you that. Tina can't do anything for herself, so it's up to us to look out for her best interests. Bette Porter is self-serving and delusional. She can't afford any of this. She's spending money on this place and you know that baby has all of the most expensive stuff--I looked up that stroller. It ain't cheap. And have you taken a look at her clothes. Everything around her is expensive and new and she doesn't have a job. It's crazy. She's gonna run out of money and where is that going to leave Tina? I'll tell you where--in some County hospital with minimal care. We can do better for her at Duke."

Bette was spending money like she still had that well-paying job at the CAC. They had been a no-income family for six months and were hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Thank god for the new job at the film studio. Still, making good money is meaningless when so much more is going out than coming in. Tina had tried talking to Bette. She was being the reasonable one, but Bette, a woman born into privilege accused her of being petty bourgeoisie while Bette kept doing what she'd always done—designer shoes and outfits, expensive bottles of wine, picking up the tab at fancy restaurants for friends and family. They had a baby now. So what if Bette had been the sole wage owner after Tina left her job, who cared if both of them had continued spending freely during that period? It's one thing to spend when you have no dependents, it's nothing short of irresponsible to spend when you have an infant to care for. Tina's frustration was building.

"We are not moving Tina from here. Do you understand?"

"Oh, yes we are," Stephanie held her ground.

Theresa picked up her purse, hooked it to the back of the stroller, walked over to Tina and kissed her goodbye, then pushed the stroller out of the room. In the hall, she passed Kit who was coming in.

"Hi, Theresa. Hi, baby, Angelica." Kit smiled, but her face changed to one of confusion when she saw the angry lines on Theresa's face. Theresa didn't respond but kept moving down the hall. When Kit walked into the room, Stephanie was standing in the center of it. Kit nodded a hello, seeing that there was tension flying through the air like electricity. Stephanie's stare was defiant and Kit didn't understand the reasons behind it. Tina's sister made a sucking sound with her teeth and walked out never once stopping to acknowledge Tina in the room.

Kit walked over to Tina and smiled at her. "It's no wonder you don't go home to North Carolina very often. You know who your sister reminds me of—Melvin and David. My father and son were just as close-minded and bigoted as Stephanie. I don't know what happened here, but I know some shit went down. My advice, Mama, you gotta get better and get that sister of yours out of your life.

Kit spent her first twenty minutes with Tina telling her all about Angus and how she'd spent a total of 28 hours with him over the past four days. "Girl, I am jonesing for that skinny-assed boy. He's cute. What can I do?"

The sun had traveled across the house and Bette realized it was getting late in the afternoon. Reluctantly, she closed the book and made her way down the hall for a shower and to prepare for her visit with Tina. While in the shower, she thought about what she had read and she felt strongly that she was doing the right thing today, that there would be a turning point.

Bette stood in front of the mirror checking her outfit. She was wearing all white cotton—smocked pants that flared at the ankle and had a drawstring at the waist, and a tunic top with blue and gold beading and green embroidery surrounding the Indian-style neckline, the sleeves flared at the cuffs. As a final touch, Bette searched through her jewelry box and found a blue beaded necklace, with several silver beads in front. She smiled a wistful smile remembering the day it was purchased.

Alice woke up and yawned. The sun was well in the west. She had slept for hours and while she slept, she dreamed about Dana. She had dreamed that they were getting married, that they had an engagement party, all of their friends were there, wishing them well. Dana leaned in to kiss her bride and whispered, "I love you." That's when Alice awoke. As soon as she recalled the dream, she began to sob again.

It was fortunate that Kit didn't have to rush back to the Planet. Billie could watch the place—for a while. Billie was doing a good job managing the café/nightclub, but he was impulsive and she liked to watch over him. If she didn't, she would be paying for all sorts of bright, creative ideas that Billie had brashly ordered to make the Planet the hottest club in West Hollywood. She left Tina's room and headed toward the center doors to leave the building. When she reached the lobby, Kit saw Theresa Kennard seated in a contoured, plastic, pastel blue chair. Angelica was next to her and she rocked the cradle absent-mindedly.

"Hey, Theresa. What are you doin' here? Where's Stephanie?"

"She left. I'm through with her."

Kit sat down next to her. She turned to Theresa and asked what had happened.

"I don't want you to tell Bette. Will ya promise?"

"I can't do that. If there's something goin' on with Tina, Bette should know."

"It's not exactly about Tina. Not really."

It was 5:20 when Bette landed on the black rubber floor that activated the sliding doors of the Center. She was surprised to see Theresa, Kit, and Angelica sitting in the lobby. Kit pressed her hand in Theresa's letting her know her secret was safe for now.

"Theresa? Kit?" Bette said with a hint of curiosity. "What are you doing out here?"

"We just walked out here," Kit lied.

Bette walked over to Angelica and picked her up. "Hello, sweetheart. I missed you all day, Angelica." She kissed her right cheek, then her left, then her right again. "That's a Dutch kiss, baby. You'll know how to do it when you and I and Mama Tee visit Amsterdam some day."

She hugged Angelica and with an inquisitive expression looked at the two women. "What happened to Stephanie? You were going with her this evening?"

Kit knew that if they sat there long enough, Bette would ask enough questions to figure out what was going on in the Kennard family. "Can I get the car seat out of your car? Theresa's tired and I'm sure you want to spend time with Tina. I'll take them back to your place."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. Theresa and I are getting' to know each other. We've been talkin' like old friends."

"Well, okay. Umm. I feel like I haven't spent a moment with Angelica today." She held Angelica at arm's length, then pulled her into a hug again. "Really, I missed her all day."

"You'll see her tonight." Kit noticed the way her sister was dressed. "Are you going someplace else after you leave here?"

"Just home," Bette said with a smile.

"Bette?" Kit was skeptical.

"The car's unlocked. I'll see you later."

Carmen and Shane raced down the hall of the Center like doctors called to a 'code blue' case. They each carried large brown bags. "We're late," Shane said.

"No, we're not. Bette didn't even give us a time."

"Okay, here we are." Shane and Carmen stormed into the room. Bette was calmly standing next to Tina's bed, the larger guest table had been moved beside the bed and on it was one lit scented candle that smelled of a delicate sandalwood.

"Hi, Bette."

"Ah, you got it. How much do I owe you?"

"Chef Bohtia said it was on the house and wishes you and Tina best of luck," Shane explained. "It smells great."

"It's wonderful. Tina and I love this place."

"I don't know what you've got planned, but like the chef said, good luck."

"Thank you," Bette was unbelievably relaxed. "I'll talk to you tomorrow sometime."

Carmen and Shane were a bit surprised to be kicked out so quickly, they stammered their goodbyes to Tina and Bette and left.

Bette closed the door to Tina's room, opened the bags and took out the various dishes from the restaurant. "Tee, we have Annapurna Kukhura— boneless pieces of chicken sautéed with chilies, pepper, onions, and spice with creamy spinach; there's Aloo Baigoon Tarkaari, eggplant and potato curry with Nepalese spices, and rice pudding with almonds, raisins and walnuts. She opened each container as she spoke in the low, slow, meditative voice she chose to use tonight. It smells good, when you breathe in, do you smell it? What does it remind you of?" Bette walked over to the side of the bed where she had placed a boombox. She pushed play and the cd, Images of Nepal by Sur Sudha began.

Bette returned to the other side of the bed, sat in the chair that was wedged between the table and Tina's hospital bed. "Today, I read this book. It really spoke to me. Truthfully, I have been on edge, worried, filled with anxiety, Tina. I like to control my situations, but this, baby, I can't control. I'm powerless and all I want to do is bring you back. I've been so scared, but today, I was able to just take a long breath." Bette picked up the Bic lighter and lit a stick of the Natural Ayurvedic Medicinal Incense she had purchased at the Bodhi Tree. The blend of fragrances in this incense claimed to enhance concentration, focus, and meditation. "The book said 'feeling irritated, restless, afraid, and hopeless is a reminder to listen more carefully.' I want to listen carefully, Tee. I want to hear everything you're trying to tell me and I want you to know you don't have to be afraid. So, listen--I'm right here. I'll always be right here."

Bette had turned Tina on her side so she could look at her face when she spoke. The room was dark with the blinds closed and the lights off, but her eyes had adjusted. "Tee, do you hear the music playing? It sounds like the music we heard on our vacation to Nepal in 2000. We heard this kind of music playing on every road we walked in Kathmandu. Remember? We couldn't get away from it. That vacation meant so much to me and I know it did you, too. We went on three long treks and our feet were killing us and we weren't acclimated to the altitude and could barely breathe. We saw Mt. Everest. Not many people in West Hollywood can say that, Tee. You said it was beautiful--—the mountains, the garden, the people in their colorful clothing, the crafts… Remember how we traveled by private car all the way to western Nepal because we wanted to see the birthplace of the Buddha?"

"You found us the best hotel--The Buddha Maya Gardens. They advertised it as a place for peace and harmony and it was. We meditated every day and our guide taught us mindful breathing.

Every morning, we took a walk to the Sacred Garden. On the way, we saw this three foot high bronze Buddha. I had to have it. It would look nice in our backyard, near the pool. Remember? We ordered it and had it shipped home? That took forever, almost seven months. Then, we walked arm and arm like two close friends in the Garden. No one knew we were lovers. You said it was the most beautiful place you'd ever been. Remember, baby? " Bette's voice was almost a whisper. "Let me take you back there; let me go back there with you. Let go of now and go back to our vacation. Inhale and feel your body becoming heavy and grounded; your arms go heavy and relaxed into the bed as you exhale. Let everything go. Just let it float away like a river-- floating away and you're safe and you're floating away to another place. And I want you to picture yourself in the most beautiful place you can imagine. Are you there?"

Bette knew Tina couldn't answer, but Bette felt Tina's energy and knew she was there.

Tina and Bette walked through the garden, passing Buddhist monks dressed in orange togas, their feet sandaled despite the coolness of the air. At the pool where the Buddha received his purification bath from his mother, Bette and Tina felt his presence --the large stature of the seated Buddha was placed in the center of the pool and Buddha's gaze seemed to follow them as they circled the area. The two women wore wool 'sherpa pants' and wool sweaters as they moved as one. Since they had arrived in Lumbini, Nepal, they walked the Sacred Garden each morning. This morning was no different. Friends, walking in silence, arm in arm and the moment was truly sacred to them. Later, they sat on a bench, taking in the glorious view of the gold and aqua temples and simple monasteries. Tina didn't know what Bette had on her mind, but she was thinking that her life felt complete; that everything she had dreamed had come true with Bette on her arm. She turned to look at her and didn't know what was the more beautiful sight—the garden with it's magical pool and an energy that couldn't be discerned, or the tangible Bette Porter—stunning, brilliant, charming, amusing, sexually creative, intensely attentive, and incredibly loving walking beside her.

"It's so beautiful, isn't it? It's so alive. It's so peaceful. You're whole, Tee. And I just want you to stay there. I'll stay there with you. We're in our room at the Buddha Maya Gardens. It's morning. Do you remember that special day?" Bette pushed the incense closer to Tina so she could inhale it as she breathed.

"It's early. The sun hasn't risen yet, but we're up and I've already showered and dressed. I turned on the radio in the room and the traditional Nepali music is playing. I'm waiting for you to come out of the bathroom. I'm wearing the white cotton pants and shirt we bought in Kathmandu, around my neck I'm wearing the blue Tilhari necklace we picked up at the antique store." She lifted Tina's hand to her neck and guided the hand over the seven silver beads hanging from the rope of tiny, blue, glass beads. I haven't put my shoes on yet. I'm looking out into the darkness and waiting for you."

"Tee, stay there with me. Breathe in. Do you smell Nepal? The food, the incense? Do you hear the music—the flute and sitar? We're in Nepal and it's beautiful and you feel whole. I feel whole."

"I'm waiting for you. We're going to watch the sunrise over the mountains. I hear the bathroom door open, but I don't turn around. I know you're dressed in the brown outfit. I know that your hair is still wet, and I know you look radiant. I wait for you. I'll always wait for you."

Tina walked out of the bathroom dressed in the same style of outfit as Bette, but hers was brown. Around her neck was a red necklace with the same beading as the blue one Bette wore. Tina's hair was damp from her shower. She stepped out of the bathroom intent on making suggestions about their itinerary for the day, but she was left breathless at the sight before her. The room was lit by three candles only and they smelled of sandalwood. A feeling of utter serenity washed over Tina. Bette, facing the window, still and peaceful, the immenseness of the mountains staring in on them from the other side of the window was surreal. The days they had spent here had been emotional in ways that she couldn't put into words. She and Bette walked the gardens in total silence, but they seemed to be sharing the same heart and same mind. Words became unnecessary. She felt connected to Bette, but couldn't explain what that connection was, and more importantly, Tina felt totally safe.

The sun was just beginning to rise and Tina softly padded across the wool carpeted floor to share the new day with her lover. She walked into Bette's space and put her arm around her. They stood that way for long moments as they watched the sun inch up over the mountain turning the sky from a blue-grey of night to a pink and orange of dawn. A tear fell from Tina's eye. "This is magnificent."

"Uh-hmm." Bette sank into Tina's embrace.

"I know I've said this a thousand times, but I've never seen a more beautiful place."

"I'm glad we're sharing it together. I've wanted to come to Nepal all of my life, but I never managed to do it. I don't think I ever would if it hadn't been for you."

Tina lightly kissed Bette's shirt covered shoulder. "I think you would have gotten here."

Tina's hand moved up and down Bette's torso, gently massaging her side, enjoying the softness of the cotton and the feel of Bette's skin beneath it. "You know, I've been looking at these mountains and kept thinking they reminded me of something, but I couldn't put my finger on it until just now."

"What do they remind you of?"

"In our second bedroom, you have those stacked drawers for your art work..." Bette knew what she was talking about and knew what she was about to say. In the birch wood drawers that were about three feet long and two feet wide, Bette had art she hadn't framed yet, but wanted to preserve. In the top drawer were pieces she was most fond of. "In the first drawer, you have all of those incredible water colors. There are several of mountains like these." Tina felt Bette stiffen imperceptibly, but a moment later, she relaxed and turned to face Tina, still being held by her.

"Yeah, I know which ones you're talking about."

"Were they painted here? Do you know?"

"Close. They're Himalayan. My father and mother worked in Tibet doing human rights work in the '70s." Bette paused and took a deep breath and Tina waited, knowing that something more was going to be revealed. "Those are my mother's watercolors. She painted those."

Tina nodded. "They're beautiful, Bette. No wonder you treasure them."

Bette gave her a half-smile, a bit uncomfortable, feeling exposed.

You knew without me saying it what being there meant to me; you knew how much meaning those watercolors held for me. We're still there—standing in the Buddha Maya Hotel, waiting for the sun talking as friends and lovers; sharing this time. We're there, Tina. The sun is on the rise. Let yourself go there.

Tina held her tighter and turned her around again to face the window. "We're almost there." The two stood side by side arms wrapped around each other's waists, facing the window watching for the sign that a new day was beginning. For Bette everything seemed more real, more intense, more powerful on one hand, but on the other, nothing seemed concrete or based in reality. Even her feelings for Tina were confusing.

Bette stepped behind Tina. A few inches taller than her blonde lover made it easy to nibble on Tina's neck. Tina tilted her head to the side allowing Bette to lick and kiss her.

"Tee, I love you and…" Bette began.

"I love you, too, baby." Tina's eyes closed under Bette's attentive kisses.

"It's-It's just that I've-I've never been in love before. I've never had these-these kinds of feelings," Bette spoke softly. "When we first got together, I thought it would-it would fizzle out like every other relationship I've been in, but I keep feeling more. I don't understand it."

"Not even for Alice? The two of you meet at Marina's place every morning.

"There's no reason that you should feel threatened, or...?"

"You're close."

"Not that way. No. There's nothing between us anymore. Nothing at all. Not that there really was. It was over before it started. I'm in love with you."

I feel the same way, Bette. I didn't think I'd fall in love with a woman, but I fell hard for you."

Bette's hand traveled up and down Tina's side. "But you've been in love before. With Eric?"

"In love, yes. With Eric, no. He was just a guy I worked with and that made him a convenient person to pass time with. I don't ever want to pass time again. I'm serious about you."


"You know how it's hard to breathe here in Nepal because we're so high above sea level?" Tina asked.


"That difficulty breathing thing isn't new to me. When we're together, every time we're together, I can't catch my breath. I look at you, your smile, your eyes, the whole package and I can hardly breathe. Bette, you take my breath away. I feel so lucky to be with you. I'm lucky and in love."

Bette's right hand held Tina's upper arm while her left hand snaked around to Tina's front and casually rubbed her tummy. "It's just that you seem to get me, Tee. You understand that I'm driven because you are, too. When I hear you on the phone taking care of your projects, I know what you're going through. So I think there are two sides to us--the Type A personality that is for work and then this private side that I, for one, never let anyone see except you."

"Let's keep the type A out of our lives together," Tina vowed.

The hand that Bette had on Tina's tummy moved up while the hand on her shoulder moved down until she cupped Tina's breasts in her hands. Tina wasn't wearing a bra and her breasts were full and heavy and felt so good to Bette. "Aaah," Tina sighed.

"I was waiting to come here with someone like you; someone I love completely." Bette squeezed Tina's breasts. "I needed to see this place, be here, smell the cool, clean air, see these mountains, watch these sunrises and sunsets, breathe the air that the Buddha breathed, show you all the love I feel, let you see what's inside me."

"I feel so safe and loved by you." Tina's head was thrown back, resting against Bette's chest while Bette's hands kneaded Tina's breasts and then her hands opened flat and she circled Tina's hardening nipples with her palms. "Ooooh." Tina turned to face Bette. She grabbed the hem of Bette's tunic and pulled it up and off, then she did the same with her top. Tina yanked Bette to her, trying to merge with her, her breasts crushing Bette's. Bette's eyes closed and she leaned in to kiss Tina. Soft lips pushed against soft lips until Bette demanded more. Her tongue snaked out of her mouth and into Tina's and Bette felt that special thing. Every time she kissed Tina, she felt the emotion in her stomach; she knew Tina was 'the one.' Bette's hands ran up and down Tina's back, over her shoulders, down her sides. Their tongues played began their mating song—adagio, dolce, legato, crescendo--without moving their feet, while standing still, holding each other close, with just their mouths and their tongues, one would chase, the other flee, one would capture, the other surrender at the same time moaning into each other. Tina pushed Bette into her, grabbing her ass through the thin cotton pants, and then she pushed back enough to get her hands between them, to untie the drawstring holding Bette's pants up. Tina pulled the tie and loosened it and as she did, Bette did the same to Tina's brown pants. Pants drifted to the floor and pooled around their ankles. Bette stepped left, removing the obstacles completely. Tina moved right and did the same. Their kisses stopped for a moment as they took the time to just look at each other. Both women were lost in the brown, warmth of the other's eyes. Tina's eyes flitted and danced, not sure what favorite parts of Bette she wanted to focus on while Bette simply looked into Tina's eyes trying to convey her depth of feeling. Bette brought her hand up, crooked her finger and motioned Tina to come closer. Soon, their bodies touched everywhere. She felt Tina's soft bush pressing against her skin. Bette's mouth opened and she pulled her forward to join with her. Her tongue worked in and around Tina's mouth and she moaned in excitement.

Bette thought about what was happening. In every one of her past sexual encounters, it had been about the ability to get the woman off, to do something outrageous and daring like public sex which she loved. Bette liked to sit back figuratively speaking, and enjoy as her dates lost control, begged for more or begged to stop because they just couldn't come again. Bette always got a little cocky when she saw how they responded to her fingers or tongue. But she seldom let herself go entirely. She had a history of holding back and the women in her life telling her that she was withholding, withdrawn, cold, and remote. With Tina, it hadn't been and wasn't going to be about controlling her through her sexual prowess. Instead, her plan hadn't altered since the day she placed Tina's lost earring back in her ear at her gallery—she was going to please Tina however Tina desired.

"You're safe, baby," Bette whispered between kisses. "I'll keep you safe always."

Slowly, Bette guided Tina to their unmade bed. Tina sat and Bette, standing over her, bent to kiss her again, but as she did, she pushed Tina down, and crawled into the bed with her. She guided Tina up towards the headboard, their bodies outstretched beside each other. They kissed and kissed until Bette moved away and nibbled at Tina's neck and then moved to her ear. She sucked on the lobe. She heard Tina moan softly

"Tina, remember how we didn't make it out of our room for our morning walk. We're still there. We're in that nice bed and the sandalwood permeates the room, and the music and our lovemaking fills the space between the walls.

Tina loved it when Bette touched her there, right behind her ear. Bette's tongue pressed hard against her flesh and Tina thought she'd jump out of her skin in pleasure. Bette licked the strong vein that was visible on her neck, and then Bette did something Tina hadn't anticipated, she stopped. Bette stared down at Tina and didn't move, didn't speak.

"What is it?"

"I was thinking about how we've spent this time being one with nature, realizing that we—the mountains, the trees, the flowers, others are one. The meditation has been unbelievable, don't you think?"

"Yeah," Tina answered, wondering why they had stopped making love.

"Tina. I have an idea. I want to try something."

Bette leaned in and kissed her again, returned to her neck and Tina's hands twirled and fisted around Bette's naturally wavy hair.

Bette was lost in the memory of that day as much as she hoped Tina was. It had been a most spectacular morning.

While Bette sucked on Tina's pulse point, her hand came up and cupped her breast. Instead of using her hand there, Bette's mouth moved from Tina's neck, passed her chest and to that inviting breast. She licked the underside of it, moving up to lick all around the breast, the circles getting smaller and smaller as she honed in on Tina's areola. Bette licked there and felt it pebbling and watched as its size changed, growing tighter, harder, and smaller.

"Oh, Bette." Tina said with a groan. "Is this… what… you wanted… to try? To turn me on? It's working."

Bette didn't answer. Tina's nipple was so hard and Bette covered it with her mouth sucking it just hard enough to have Tina's toes curling in anticipation of more.

Bette widened her interest and sucked Tina's whole breast again, but while she did that, her tongue flicked over her nipple repeatedly. She heard Tina groan. Bette moved her mouth away and slid down Tina's body, her arm coming up so that her hand could caress the other breast. She kissed Tina's abdomen, watched it quiver from her touch. Her head moved to Tina's hip and she bit down lightly, taking tiny nips at the flesh. Licking and biting Tina's right hip and thigh put Bette in a position where her right breast was pressed and cocooned between Tina's legs. Bette could feel Tina's heat and dampness. She pressed her breast harder against that spot and then slightly lifted so that her very hard nipple rubbed insistently against Tina's clitoral hood peaking out from between her labia. Bette's abdomen trembled this time and her eyes closed as she let her body get pleasure from this unexpected gift.

Again, Bette surprised them both. Instead of continuing on this path, Bette sat up. Tina frowned, not understanding why Bette was keeping her waiting like this. "The meditation and the breathing are so powerful. Let's try something, all right?

Bette sat cross-legged between Tina's spread legs. "Breathe in, deep inhale; let yourself feel grounded in this moment." Her right hand moved lightly up and down Tina's labia. Simply, she rubbed her thumb over the hair, gentle, tender, tiny strokes. Slowly, she opened Tina's labia and with all the time in the world, her right hand began the same exploration of her inner lips. Her left hand slid up Tina's thigh, across her stomach and she held it there as she felt Tina's breathing. Tina stared into Bette's brown eyes with amazement.

Bette could feel Tina's wetness, but wouldn't give in to it. They were both aroused, but she wanted to try this. She wanted to know how far she could take it and what power this sort of lovemaking might have. If simple breathing from meditation could be so satisfying, what results might this have? Bette also concentrated on her own breathing. She remained mindful, letting her diaphragm and chest expand with each breath, exhaling slowly and she saw that Tina matched her breathing pattern.

Tina moved her arm from her side and across her stomach. She squeezed Bette's hand and held her in her vision as she kept breathing in slowly and steadily. Bette's other hand moved to Tina's clitoris. In the past, during their time of passion, Bette would have perhaps started licking and sucking her there or maybe moved a finger rapidly across it to help Tina off the physical edge she balanced on. This time, she took Tina's clitoris between her forefinger and thumb and massaged it. Not to achieve a climax, but to learn its textures. Tina moaned and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs and lower with the sexually pungent air they had created. Bette continued. She felt Tina's clitoris changing, enlarging, and getting slicker, but her eyes remained focused on Tina's eyes. Bette turned her hand, palm side up on Tina's stomach and held Tina's hand tightly in her own. The other hand's fingers felt around the wet, fleshy warmth between Tina's legs. Bette placed her middle finger at Tina's opening. Ever so slowly, she slipped that finger inside of Tina. She didn't move it, but held it there—as a small, delicate, loving intrusion. Surprisingly, Tina didn't thrust forward which she typically would have done. Instead, she breathed deeper and waited.

Neither woman noticed the passage of time. It was dark when Bette had awakened. Now, a bright ray of light beamed down into their room from the window draping their bodies with the orange sun. Bette still sat between Tina's legs.

Tina felt the small movements of Bette's finger inside of her. Bette breathed along with Tina. They shared their inhales and exhales, thinking only of the breathing in spite of everything else happening to their bodies. The sound of their joint breaths provided a joyous harmony in the room, creating a full and mellow hum, sounding more like a haunting choir than just two women. That feeling Tina had earlier about them sharing one heart and one mind was in full force. They were so connected at this moment, Tina didn't know where she ended and Bette began.

Bette gently caressed the billowy softness of Tina's walls, moving deeper, up, down, letting her finger slide across, down the side, up the other side. In this encounter, Bette's thoughts were of pleasuring Tina completely. It wasn't about what felt good to her, how much she loved being inside of her, whether a certain touch might send Tina over the top, but simply giving an intimate massage to her companion, best friend, and lover. Her finger's movements were close to imperceptible as she touched places that were hidden and deep inside Tina.

Tina breathed deep through her nose. Desperately she wanted to push into Bette, but she wouldn't for two reasons: one, Bette didn't want her to, and two, what was happening felt too good to stop.

Breaking the hold they had on each other's hand, Bette slipped her hand away from Tina. She moved her hand to caress Tina's waist and further to lightly cup and fondle her breast. The finger buried deep inside Tina curled. Bette hoped this wouldn't be Tina's undoing, but she wanted to explore all of her including this spot. Her curled finger made small circular motions over the thick patch of flesh. It wasn't done to arouse, but to experience. An involuntary groan escaped from Tina's mouth.

Bette's finger were covered with Tina's nectar, yet Tina remained the good student. She would only do what Bette asked. She would only go where Bette bid. She would only breathe for now, but she had to admit those intensifying tiny circles might become too much.

Bette's most concrete thoughts were of the discoveries she was making of Tina's body--although she knew this body very well—the thickness of her vaginal walls, the texture of that spot inside her that resulted in more liquid flowing from her. Other ideas filtered in and out—I am an extension of Tina and she, of me. Tina completes me. Tina continued to breathe deeply, and with special tenderness Bette added a second finger inside her lover. She rested her fingers inside Tina, barely moving, focusing on the texture and mystery of this space between her lover's legs. She started to move inside her, pushing in deep, pulling back just a tiny bit, and then deep again. In and out Bette slid and used her thumb on Tina's dark pink stimulated clitoris. Tina was swollen everywhere, primed, ready to burst. Her nipples stood firm and at attention. She had been building toward the orgasm for a long time.

Tina couldn't hold back any longer. She grunted and pushed into Bette. Her eyes fluttered, then closed as a climax rocked her body--she didn't scream out as she was wont to do, but after taking one long breath as an inhale, holding their on top, as high as the mountain that watched them, Tina began falling off that edge, and then exhaled through her nose as her descent continued. When she opened them again, Bette still sat between her legs, still breathing in the same slow and infinitely steady pattern. Her fingers still lodged deep in Tina, no longer moving, but savoring the way Tina constricted around them.

"Oh, Bette."

"Just breathe, Tina. Just breathe in like before."

With infinitesimal movement, Bette's head was now between Tina's legs which were bent at the knee, spread wide. Tina had no idea when Bette moved or how. She didn't recall the change of positions, but there she was—Bette's long, brown hair brushing against her inner thighs. Tina grabbed one of Bette's hands and held it in hers as she awaited the first stroke of Bette's tongue against her heat. When it happened, Tina gritted her teeth and hissed. She slammed her eyes shut and slipped her hand from Bette's and began to stroke her forearm. Bette opened Tina up with her other hand and tilted her body upward. She dropped her head down and with the slowest of measure tipped inside, grinding her face against Tina's throbbing center.

"Bette, it's wonderful," Tina whispered. "Oh, baby."

Bette had every intention of spending the morning in bed. She halted her ministrations twice when she felt like Tina was reaching her peak. She moved away from her, traveled up Tina's body. Tina could smell her musky scent on Bette's lips and when Bette bent to kiss her, she tasted her own juices. Bette kissed and licked around her mouth just as she had done elsewhere a few minutes earlier. It was a reminder of where she'd return. Tina wanted her there right away, but Bette remained near her face. She kissed her cheek, her lips smacked against her forehead, then moved back to Tina's mouth where she kissed her over and over, more forceful, than suddenly ridiculously tender. Bette's hand roamed everywhere—Tina's hip, her thigh, her breast. Bette pushed, pulled, pinched, stroked, circled, and rubbed while Tina moaned and panted feeling herself climbing again. In a flash, Bette moved back down Tina's body, back between her legs. She put Tina's legs over her shoulders and pulled her closer to her. Bette rubbed her cheek against Tina knowing that her cheek would shine with Tina's wetness. Tina's hands massaged Bette's head, making her lover's hair stand on in. Bette sucked on Tina's clit, spread her lips, and pulled back the clitoral hood. She didn't touch it, but blew on it, before releasing it. Bette watched as the pink skin covering Tina's clit stretched to protect Tina's very much engorged clitoris. Bette licked the shaft, then sucked it into her mouth again, but didn't suck long before she started swirling her tongue around it. Tina wrapped her hand around fistfuls of Bette's hair again and pushed her head into her wetness. "Oh, Bette. Bette, baby."

"Stay there with me, Tina. Stay right there."

"I love you, Tina."

Later, Tina and Bette lay next to each other. Tina held Bette firmly. In all of her life she had never been touched so deeply emotionally while making love. It was an experience she'd remember all of her life. Tina hugged Bette tighter, she was never going to let go.

Bette cuddled deeper into the embrace, she hoped that Tina could feel what was in her heart. She lifted her head and gave Tina a small kiss on the lips. Before she could lower her chin, Tina was kissing Bette harder. Bette had been pleasuring Tina all morning and Tina knew that Bette had to be aching and needing a release. Her hand reached up and between them and when her hand captured Bette's breast, Bette's response was natural, she pushed against that hand and groaned.

"Oh, I love how your body feels. I love holding you like this, Bette."

Bette's eyes closed and her face screwed up in desire and need. She moved her leg, entwining and wrapping it around Tina's. Tina could feel how wet Bette was. In fact, she couldn't recall a time in their year and a half together when Bette was so aroused.

"You're soaked," Tina whispered. "I want to take care of you."

"You are."

Bette was so wet that she practically slid off of her lover. She pushed against Tina's thigh, pressing in hard as Tina guided her. It was going to happen quickly. She was more than ready.

"Oh. Oh. Tina. Oh, Tina." Bette pursed her lips and sucked in air as she felt herself rising to her orgasm. She ground into her, her clit hard and smashed against Tina's muscled thigh. Her mouth opened, showing her teeth as her body shook. "Baby. My Tina. My Tina." Tina's strong arms moved Bette up and down faster while she tensed the muscles in her leg to give Bette the firmness she sought.


Bette's movements stopped, as did Tina's. Bette's hands loosened the grip she had on Tina's arms and she sighed while Tina's hands floated and danced on Bette's back, calming her. She slowly rolled her body from underneath Bette's and with that pushed Bette onto her back. "What you did for me…what you showed me…I have to show you."

"Oh, Tina," Bette said when Tina's hand moved down Bette's flat stomach and lower.

"It's beautiful. I'm with you--there with you, always with you. Loving you."

Bette was lost in the memory and her eyes were closed, remembering lovemaking from long ago, so she missed it when Tina blinked hers.


Dana and Lara discuss moving to Paris. (S3, Episodes 9 and 10)
Carmen's Cherie Jaffe jealousy (S3, Episodes 5 and 6)
Tina dreams:
a) she tells Bette that they have curb their spending because they have a baby now (Season 3, Episode 5)
b) Tina thinks Dana has breast cancer after overhearing two separate conversations, (Season 3)
c) Tina is offered a job with Helena's film studio (Season 3, Episode 3),
d) Tina recalls Nepal:
- (Season 2, Episode 4—Tina tells Joyce about the Buddha statue by the pool)
- when she asked if she should feel threatened by Alice (S3, Episode 2—if Tina takes the job with Helena, Bette asks if she should feel threatened.);
- Bette gets Tina to relax and meditate on Nepal (Season 3, Episode 7—Bette takes Dana to her bedroom and guides her to her happy place),
e) Bette quotes from "Comfortable with Uncertainty." (Season 3, Episode 3)

Part 10

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