Very Rich and Famous: Part 3

The Morning After

Bridget awoke in the middle of their first night. She needed to pee. For the first time in her life, she found herself in bed with another person. She was initially startled by the arm draped over her and the light-breathing behind her until she remembered. She remembered whose arm it was and whose breath it was and it washed over her like a flood of a contentment she’d never known. One she’d never known was possible.

Still. She had to pee. She disentangled herself and made her way slowly in the dark, guided by her hands, to where she hoped the bathroom was. While there, she closed the door and turned on the light. After peeing, she looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair disheveled, she saw a woman she would not have recognized two days earlier. Sleepy with eyes reddened by crying but displaying both satisfaction and hunger.

She turned off the light, waited a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dark, and slowly felt her way back to the bed. She found that Evie had turned, now facing away from her, so Bridget wrapped her right arm around her and felt her sweat and her glow. She lightly kissed the other woman’s neck and quickly drifted off.

Several hours later, Evelyn too had her startled moment. Since the demise of her engagement, she’d rarely awakened with another person and never in her own  bed. When she remembered whose arm it was and whose breath it was, she shared her lover’s contentment. She reached for her phone to check the time. 6:47.

She wallowed in Bridget’s embrace, fully awake. Her first thought was of what Bridget had done. Not sleeping with her, though that was significant. Sacrificing her connections with Peter and Amy and Petey. Evelyn felt how unworthy she was for Bridget’s sacrifice and prayed that someday Bridget would think she was worth it. At that moment, though, she prayed that Bridget would not realize what she was giving up and would not rush away, muttering I’m-sorry-Evelyn-this-was-all-a-horrible-mistake. She deserved to have Bridget leave—she did not deserve to have her stay.

When she went to the bathroom, she too looked into the mirror. It was not the face she had seen at the Hamptons house less than twenty-four hours earlier. It was a strange mix of happiness and fear, the fear that the happiness she just felt at the hands and tongue of a woman—the woman—she loved would be stripped from her, leaving her much worse off. That saying “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” would be a cruel joke.

She was still staring at her image when she heard light tapping on the door. She opened it, and Bridget, also naked, entered. She stood behind the taller woman and they both looked into the mirror. Where their eyes met. Bridget couldn’t drop her chin to Evie’s shoulder because either she was too short or Evie was too tall. So she got on her tip toes.

“I told you I would not leave you. I meant it. I mean it. I will not leave you.”

Evelyn nodded as a tear slipped down her right cheek, their eyes still locked.

“I was afraid you’d be dressed when I got back. That’s why I’ve been here for so long. I was afraid you’d . . .” and Bridget stopped her by turning her so they faced each other.

“Whatever happens happens together.”

With that they hugged and Bridget led Evie back to the bedroom by the hand.

The night before was rabid. Neither knew what she was doing. Especially Bridget. But nature overcame everything and they’d enjoyed it. Hell, Bridget is a nurse and even she couldn’t identify some of the body parts she’d kissed in their enthusiasm. This morning was different. They were calm and each demanded to know what the other wanted. Surprisingly, given how inexperienced she was, Bridget took the lead. She told Evie to lie back and close her eyes. “No peeking.” Which, given that it was spoken wasn’t quite right so she amended it to “keep your damn eyes closed.” Bridget kissed the pair of eyelids, which elicited the first moan of the morning.

She sat back. Evie was beautiful. Her proportions perfect. Bridget didn’t care that her own were not. (Nor, she would learn, would Evie ever care.) She traced her right index-finger from Evie’s forehead down her nose and across her lips—receiving a slight peck as it passed—and down, down, down. Between the tits, into the innie bellybutton and into the trimmed bush above the vulva. A pause and then she ran the finger through body parts she hoped to get to know very well: the damp folds and over the clitoris and then she ran it into the vagina. She stared at it there. Evie’s legs spread and her mouth whispered “more. Please more.”

Instead Bridget bent down and placed her lips on Evie’s and their mouths opened and they kissed while Bridget wiggled her index and added her middle finger and Evie began to rock her hips. Evie’s eyes shot open when Bridget removed her fingers, which she brought up to Evie’s left cheek. They were damp. Grabbing her right cheek with her other hand, she held the face and found herself losing herself to it.

“You are so beautiful.” They both knew Bridget was not speaking only of Evie’s body. Bridget fell back. “Please take me.”

Evie, already well-excited by Bridget’s brief fingering, turned her focus to the other woman. Now she was running her hands along the body next to her. A body a few inches shorter than her own. A body with smooth, inviting curves and flowing blonde-hair. Breasts born to be held and nipples born to be suckled on. And a nicely-trimmed, blonde pussy that was the most beautiful thing Evie had ever seen.

Reining herself in, she began by caressing Bridge’s breasts—tits—and kissing Bridget’s nipples. Then back to kissing the glorious lips. She couldn’t help it. She threw herself on top. The two continued their kiss for five, ten, fifteen minutes. All the time their sweat mingling until Bridget pushed Evie away and to the side.

“Love me.”

Mischievously, Evie said, “I thought I was,” which got the rejoinder, “shut up and kiss me THERE.” Evie turned so she could blow on Bridget’s pussy and then leaned in to lick her as Bridget turned onto her side. Both women acting on pure, unadulterated instinct. Suddenly, Evie felt Bridget’s arms around her ass as she was being pulled to Bridget’s own mouth and the two were like kittens. Lapping each other with no desire to ever stop.

It couldn’t last. Within four or five minutes Evie felt Bridget’s hands pull her tighter. Coming up for air from what she was doing to Evie, Bridget said, “more-more-more” and Evie gave it to her even after Bridget released her hands. Which she did so she could grab Evie’s ass and pull her pussy to her own mouth and shortly using only their lips and their tongues each of the women felt the onset of a wonderful orgasm. Evie came, or started to come, first, which set Bridget off. Each struggled to maintain contact with the other until Evie shouted “STOP.”

When they each caught their breaths, Evie stood to reposition herself to lie face-to-face with Bridget and said in the clear light of day and in a post-coital flurry, “I love you Bridget, more than I could have imagined loving anyone.”

Then again she wept. Again Bridget pulled her closer. And shortly sleep collected them both.

At Sea

When Bridget left the East Hampton house about an hour after Evelyn was gone on Saturday afternoon, grabbing Evelyn’s things, she said she couldn’t leave Evelyn alone. The others had no idea what was going on there. Todd had disappeared into town. Jane was calmer; her daughter took her for a walk on the beach. They spoke, closer than they’d been since Fran’s pregnancy with Eve. Jane was always the strong one. The burden of raising a girl with the help of her family. Now Jane felt much as she had when she came home and her ex-husband Frank left a cryptic note that he was not coming back. There, at least, she was able to get a formal divorce after Fran told her that he’d moved to Arizona and was remarried with two kids

Every ounce of Fran was poured into Eve. It is what got her through the horrible period of the past seven or eight months, including the banality of her hookup sex with doctors. Which might, just might, be behind her now that things were going well with Barry. She was proud of her daughter, already two-and-a-half. Rambunctious and troublesome. But hers. Peter was an active but part-time father. Neither he nor anyone else questioned Fran’s primacy. And all knew that she never again came near what happened when she crashed her Mercedes into a tree.

Fran feared that with the coming of Petey, Peter and Amy’s son, they would lose interest in Eve. They did not. Eve was making it clear that she was Petey’s older sister, insisting on holding him at least once when they were together. And Peter and Amy tried not to show favorites. For the most part; Amy couldn’t be blamed for doting on her own son, but she was always trying to do it aware of Eve’s presence. Amy had been a total bitch to Fran when they first met but now the reality had washed away the pretense and the two had fallen to liking one another in their own way.

For Amy and Peter, Petey made them feel complete as a couple.

But Bridget? Why did she run after Evelyn? The sweetest of the sweet running after the slut.

These were Fran’s thoughts when her mother interrupted her.

“He’s a man. He did what men do. She’s pretty. She threw herself at him. I need to talk to him when we get back.”

Fran liked Todd well enough. He was good to her mother. Sweet. Attentive. The two had real chemistry and he had helped her self-confidence and gotten her out of her shell. A bit of a wandering eye. He’d slipped. As the two women walked, they became more confident in one thing: Evelyn had seduced Todd and he could not be blamed for doing something that any man would do.

When Jane confronted Todd at the house, with Fran, he admitted it. While he didn’t lie, he said that he couldn’t be blamed for wanting to sleep with someone “as beautiful as Evelyn.” He knew that wasn’t true. That he had cheated on Jane but he could not admit it. He cared for Jane and told himself he wouldn’t screw up again. Jane didn’t blame him. Nor did Fran.

The End

Bridget was right. They did hate her for it. Not “they.” Jane. Which is all that mattered. It was made clear to Peter that he had to choose. He chose Eve. How could he not?

Bridget’s position at the Foundation became untenable, especially with Fran working there. She was very good at it, but she had to leave. Peter, without Fran’s knowledge, got her a position at a non-profit that did the actual research; the Peter and Amy Edgar Foundation merely directed money to non-profits like it. The things she had at the house were sent to her. She was allowed to pick up her things at the apartment but, at her insistence, she was accompanied by a staff member when she did. The apartment was otherwise empty of people.

Bridget was right as well in that she didn’t care. She regretted losing her friends, and she understood why they did what they did. But in her mind she had no choice either. She was not leaving the woman she loved. She forgave her even if no one else would.

In the end, Bridget’s forgiveness was all that mattered to Evelyn. She was far from the crying woman on the beach awed by the magnitude of the house to which Bridget brought her. It was just a house. Very big and with a great view. But just another house.

A month after they first made love in Evelyn’s small apartment, Bridget gradually moved in. She kept her place in Woodlawn for a few months just in case but surrendered it three months later. From Evelyn’s East Side apartment she could walk to work. She could sleep every night with the woman she loved.

Amy called Bridget now and then at first but the break was too hard and the calls stopped.

Even before committing to Bridget, Evelyn found herself more broadly. Her managers at Chase saw the difference and suggested she apply for a position in the risk-assessment department. The work there involved reviewing a borrower’s or potential-borrower’s assets and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of its business. At the heart of the assessment was a judgment about the applicant’s prospects. She interviewed and based upon her own department’s recommendations—her boss made clear that she was not trying to dump Evelyn on another department but felt she could “blossom” in a new environment—she got the promotion.

Bridget and Evelyn loved the apartment. It was too small but it’d have to do for a while. They were loners by nature. Neither had a desire to join in a lesbian scene, if one existed. Each was by nature introverted and each could think of little that would improve on their simply spending time with one another. The couple had quickly been accepted by Bridget’s folks up in the Bronx. All they ever wanted for their daughter was that she truly fall in love with someone, and it was clear that Evelyn was just such a “someone.”

Thus, in a section of the northern Bronx one would not expect to be welcoming to a lesbian couple, that barrier, if it ever really existed, was no more, When the two women drove up on Sundays to see Bridget’s folks, they became just another happy young couple in the neighborhood visiting their folks and regulars at one of the Irish pubs.

Things were a bit dicier with Evelyn’s family. She’d grown up in an upper middle-class home in Chappaqua, north of the City. Her parents, Brian and Irene Manners, were lawyers working in Midtown Manhattan, partners in two different firms there. She had one older brother, Jess, who moved to San Francisco after he graduated from Penn. He worked in tech, the non-descriptive world akin to a New Yorker’s working “in finance.”

More than anything, it was disappointment. Her folks always thought of Evelyn finally settling down, meeting a doctor or lawyer or banker, having some kids, and gliding into the local women’s club and visiting them on weekends. Over the years, they’d come to recognize that the broken engagement was a good thing for her. Her marriage to him would have been drifting—again—into doing something because she was expected to do it.

Evelyn mentioned to them about Bridget some two weeks after she fled the Hamptons house but only as a new friend who had been helpful. She drove up to speak to them a couple of months after they were living together. Her parents were a bit surprised when she said she was coming. She was normally too busy to bother. She told Bridget what she was doing and Bridget insisted on going with her. In-for-a-penny. As the BMW pulled into the driveway, the nerves kicked in for both. One of those Big Moments In My Life. Evelyn did not know how her parents would react to the reality of her being in love with another woman.

“Evie.” Bridget said this with her hand on Evelyn’s, which was on the gear-shifter. She looked at Evie, but Evie was looking straight ahead. “Your parents love you, right?” Evie nodded. “If you tell them that I make you happier than you’ve ever been—nod if that’s true,” and Evie nodded and couldn’t help but smile, “they’ll be happy for us.”

Evie looked to her lover, and they shared a chaste kiss.

“And if that doesn’t work, tell them I’m pregnant.”

“You are such a bitch.”

“Yeah, but I’m your bitch.”

With that the two got out of the car and, holding hands, walked to the door.

This was not unnoticed by Brian and Irene Manners. They were discretely watching from the dining room. Evelyn had not said anything when she told them she was coming. He didn’t mean to, but when he saw Bridget, Brian whispered, “fuck.” With her husband frozen in place, Irene rushed to open the door before Evelyn knocked and reached to hug her daughter, moving her eyes to Bridget while she did.

Bridget was a few feet behind Evelyn. Irene was a bit embarrassed because normally she would have turned to Bridget and said, “And you must be . . .” but she had no idea who this woman was. Well, she had a pretty good idea who this woman was. She didn’t know her name.

Evelyn jumped in. She had rehearsed this and gone over it with Bridget.

“Mom. This is Bridget Casey. She’s my girlfriend.”

Irene surprised even herself. She moved to hug Bridget but did not do so, as one might have expected, rotely. She did it with genuine affection. It was enough that Bridget had her daughter’s endorsement and she held her hug far longer than anyone expected and whispered so only Bridget could hear, “I am so happy to meet you.” Then, stepping back, she shooed the two into the house.

By then, Brian Manners had recovered. His immediate reaction to seeing his daughter holding the hand of another woman was just that, a reaction. It was more in surprise than anything else. So he hoped. He feared that his visceral reaction was a distaste, that’s the word, for his daughter being with a woman. It was a reaction so contrary to his own professed statements. He had the uncomfortable taste of hypocrisy in his mouth.

He too gave Bridget a hug when she was introduced as his daughter’s girlfriend. The four headed into the living room with Irene asking if she could get the two anything. They both declined. They sat on the sofa, close to one another. Evelyn’s parents sat opposite them, across a coffee table.

Evelyn took a long breath. Looking from one parent to the other, she said, “Mom. Dad. I know how you always had certain expectations for me and I know I’ve not met them very often. I’ve had certain expectations for me, and I’ve not met them either.”

She proceeded, with Bridget holding her hand, lightly moving her fingers for support, to tell their story. The beach. The house. The “reveal” that they loved each other. She paused at that, to give them time to take it in.

“I can’t imagine how I got as far as I did without her. Now I don’t want to be without her ever again. And I want you to be with us. So that’s why I’m here. . . . Bridget’s the one who fixed all the ways you screwed me up.”

With that note ending her piece, her mom got up and walked around the table. She gestured for Bridget to get up, and the two did. She then gave another hug and said, this time for all to hear, “I’m not saying we screwed her up at all, but if you can shut her up about it, you’re welcome at this house anytime.”

And her father, still anxious about what he’d said, gave her another hug and offered to take them all to lunch.

Lunch in town itself went very well. All four felt comfortable, keeping mostly to safe topics. But word rocketed through Chappaqua and by Sunday night a good part of town learned that Evelyn Manners was a lesbian. Too many, but by no means all, of those with whom Evelyn grew up and went to school suddenly viewed her in a different, negative light. Blamed it on living in the City.

When word got to her ex-fiancé, he told his buddies that he’d “dodged a bullet with that skank.”

A Modest Proposal

Evelyn loved her burgundy BMW. Which was a good thing given how expensive it was to keep and garage. It was worth it. She and Bridget frequently drove up to see Bridget’s folks in Woodlawn or her own in Chappaqua. The six of them all met for the first time at Evelyn’s parents’ club in Chappaqua. By then, whatever tongues were going to wag had wagged themselves out. While Bridget’s folks were a little more rough-around-the-edges than were Evelyn’s, no one among the group cared and they laughed when Bridget’s dad said his mother always wanted him to be a lawyer and Evelyn’s said he always wanted to be a cop. “And shortstop for the Yankees.”

Bridget and Evelyn, though, relished driving up into Litchfield, Connecticut for the day. Northwest Connecticut, an hour-and-a-half drive each way, and they shared driving and shared gabbing duties on the way up and on the way down.

For their first vacation, in February 2017 they headed a bit farther north, to Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Just over the border from New York. They found a small place with a kitchen on Airbnb and booked it for a week, starting on the Sunday.

They arrived mid-afternoon and dropped off their things. It was cold and icy in spots, but the forecast did not have snow for the week. The place where they were staying was a converted garage in a wooded area. Well away from the main house. A flight of stairs and a large room and large windows looking out to the woods. A small kitchen and bathroom and a more casual space on the ground floor. A small deck to the rear.

They didn’t know the area, and headed into town to explore. The couple scoped out possible restaurants for dinner and, that done, they headed back to the house.

The week went smoothly. They’d look at a map and drive east or west or north or south as the spirit moved them. On Friday, Bridget insisted that they eat in a booth near the bar at a small restaurant on Castle Street in Barrington. She was very particular about it. The food was good, and when desert—a shared Tiramisu—arrived, Bridget grabbed Evelyn’s hands before she could get her fork.

“I’ve loved this week with you.”

“So have I.” Evelyn’s gears were turning. Why wasn’t Bridget letting her get her fork?

She knew the answer before the question was asked.

“Will you . . .”

“Of course I will.”

“You didn’t let me finish.”

Evelyn smiled. “I promise. From now on I promise I’ll always let you finish” and she gave her best shit-eating grin after she’d extended that last word.

“You are such a bitch.”

“Yeah, but I’m your bitch.”

“Touché.”

Evelyn looked concerned.

“Is that it?”

“You’re so smart, you tell me.”

Evelyn draped her left hand across the table. Palm down. She wiggled her ring finger as she stared at the woman of her dreams.

“If you insist.” Bridget reached into her pocket and passed the ring over the knuckle and after exchanged “I love you”s, Evelyn heard applause. Behind her were four smiling parents and the respective mothers rushed to congratulate their respective daughters and the respective fathers did the same.

Bridget’s father, Danny, said, “We thought you’d never get there.” He lifted a Guinness—he was, after all, an Irish cop in New York—and to the room toasted the couple, and everyone applauded and Evelyn wanted to slink below the table but her fiancée wouldn’t let her.

When they were finally rid of their parents, who’d been at a big table in the dining room for the duration and were staying in a nearby B&B, they got back to their place. They were exhausted. But very horny. They tried to share the small bathroom, but it was tight, and ultimately Bridget let Evie finish. When she was done, Bridget took care of herself. She dabbed a touch of perfume behind her ears and then grabbed a terry-cloth robe.

When she saw the bed, Evelyn was lying on her back. Naked except for their favorite strap-on, obscenely hard, pointing to the ceiling, and lubed. Bridget was wet and no foreplay was necessary. She got on the bed and placed her knees on either side of her fiancée’s hips. Locking their eyes, she mounted Bridget, slowly dropping so her pussy encircled the dildo. It had a small insert that went into Evelyn so they were both stimulated.

It was fully in Bridget, and Bridget sat impaled on it, feeling its shape and its veins against her insides. The two had countless “best” moments, with sex and without, and they knew this would be one of them. Slowly Bridget began to rock her hips. Front-to-back. Right-to-left. Then she was doing circles over the dick inside her. She was having difficulty holding Evelyn’s eyes as she was having difficulty keeping her eyes open. Finally she surrendered. Her eyes slammed shut and she began rising up and plunging down. Again and again, as Evelyn picked up the rhythm. As often happened, bedlam reigned. Up-down. Right-left. Front-back. Then just slowly up, rabidly down.

Bridget bent until she neared Evelyn’s face. Evelyn’s eyes had remained open the whole time. Studying, adoring Bridget’s every move. She almost didn’t need that small dildo in her. It was nearly enough to have the visual stimulation that was Bridget’s increasingly manic fucking.

Bridget’s eyes shot open and she started a stream of expletives Evelyn had rarely heard before. The only time she used any was when they were fucking and she used her entire allotment of those she had saved over the years during this session. She was drenched, and the dick had no difficulty pulsing in-and-out. She tried to bottom out even more. Finally when it was fully in her, she stopped. She raised herself back up, perpendicular to Evelyn and her dick.

Bridget began to move her hips slightly. Evelyn was perfectly still. Suddenly there was a scream. Bridget became a piston, racing up and down the dick as she wailed. Twenty. Thirty. Fully sixty seconds of a physical bliss she’d never known before.

Evelyn was not far behind, being set off, as she often was, when Bridget went over the edge. Together they fell into the abyss. Bridget, done, collapsed on top of Evelyn and then moved so that she was on her left side. Stroking the drenched dick and then wrapping her hands around Evie’s neck.

“I did promise to let you finish.” Which got an exhausted, “I’d say something witty in response except that would take brain cells and they’ve just been fried.”

Evelyn turned so she could face her love. It was almost uncomfortable in its intensity. The two lay there doing nothing except staring into each other’s eyes. It was as intimate a moment as they ever shared. The stories about the gateway to the soul? Each understood. They’d long had each other’s hearts. Now each had given the other her soul. At some point, each drifted asleep.

About two weeks later, Evelyn gave Bridget her ring, picked out together on Manhattan’s 48th Street, the City’s Diamond District. It was, as was Evelyn’s, a small stone in a simple setting. Both rings, as Goldilocks would say, were not-too-big/not-too-small.

F.A.O. Schwarz

Things returned pretty much to normal for the fiancées, Evelyn at Chase on Park Avenue and Bridget at her non-profit in Rockefeller Center. In late March, Bridget was heading back from lunch. She saw F.A.O. Schwarz as she often did and, as it often did, it made her think of Petey. He was nearing one and she missed him terribly. She went in to think about a birthday gift she would never send. As she turned down one of the aisles, she saw Amy looking intently at something. Bridget quickly turned and fled the store, before Amy could see her. She’d not seen Amy in some seven months and she missed her terribly as well. She was more than content with Evelyn as her fiancée but missed her best friend and no one came close to being a substitute for her. She hated to admit it, but she would have liked someone she could bitch to about this or that of Evelyn’s peculiarities. 

She was about thirty steps away from the store when she felt a hand touch her right arm. She stopped. She wasn’t prepared for this. She would not turn. Amy circled in front of her. Neither said a word. They stood there, in the middle of the sidewalk on 49th Street. Bridget could not say anything. Amy only, “I have missed you so much.”

They stepped aside to let people by. “I’ve missed you too.” Amy, noticing the ring offered congratulations, a bit hesitant until Bridget said, “Evelyn.”

Amy knew little about what happened between the other two since that horrible Saturday when Bridget left to bring Evelyn her things. She knew that Bridget left the Foundation—she and Peter said it was necessary to keep Fran happy—and gone to work for her current non-profit, but Bridget and Evelyn had otherwise disappeared, with no social-media presence. While they had spoken, at least at first, Bridget was closed-mouthed about what was obviously going on with Evelyn.

They began to walk. They saw an open spot on the Promenade and sat. Bridget said she had to get back, but Amy asked her to stay.

Bridget looked at Amy.

“I can’t go down this road with you. I just can’t. I made my decision and while I’ve regretted losing you and Peter and Petey, I do not regret going with Evelyn and I never will.”

She stood up.

Amy looked up at her. “Do you have the same number? I need to think and speak to Peter. Then I’ll call you.” She rose too. “You can’t imagine how much I’ve missed you.” With a sharp hug she turned and walked towards Fifth Avenue. Bridget saw that she was crying. Amy did not look back.

Bridget Comes Home

When Bridget came through the door, her kiss was a little off. She said she was tired and plopped down on the sofa. Evie went to the kitchen to throw the dinner she’d picked up in the microwave.

“Wine?”

“Please.”

She poured a glass and took it and her own to the living room. She sat next to her love and handed her the glass. After Bridge took a sip, she turned.

“I saw Amy.”

The two hadn’t spoken about her, or the others, for a while. Each knew, though, that one or the other might run into her or one of the others in the City. It’s perhaps a paradox about Manhattan. But because people travel on sidewalks or on the subway to get anywhere, they’re always running into people they know.

“I was in F.A.O. Schwarz thinking of Petey when I saw her. I thought I got away, that she hadn’t seen me, but she caught me on the sidewalk.”

The two women sat looking in front of each other. Evie was dreading this. The reality of seeing Amy meant the threat of reminding Bridget how much her love for Evie cost her. Meant Bridget remembering how horrible Evie was and that it was and always would be Evie and Evie’s fault that separated Bridget from Amy and from Petey.

Bridget felt Evie begin to heave. She realized what her love was doing and what her love was going through. She placed her glass on the coffee table and took Evie’s and put it down as well. Grabbing both of Evie’s wrists, she forced her to look into her eyes. Both women’s eyes were watering.

“Evelyn. My love. I have never second-guessed my decision to be with you. Hell, it wasn’t much of a decision. Being with you is who I am. I miss Amy and I miss Peter and I miss Petey more than almost anything. But I would miss you more. OK?”

Evie nodded.

“Say it. Say you understand that I need you more than anything. Say it.”

“I understand. . . . But why?”

“Listen. I’m sitting in this place with you when I could be sitting on a deck overlooking the Atlantic with a wine five times as expensive as this one. Yeah, I know it’s March but you know what I mean. Sitting on Park Avenue. But if I’m not sitting with you, none of that matters.”

“But . . .”

“Evie it just is. OK? I don’t have to know how a plane flies to Paris. I just know it.”

Evie found herself being led to the bedroom, the microwave’s five beeps ignored. Bridget placed her hands on Evie’s waist and positioned her next to the bed. She leaned in and gave a kiss to the left side of Evie’s neck. Leaning back again, her hands unbuttoned Evie’s blouse. Evie began to shake from the excitement building within her. Bridget continued until she pulled the blouse out of Evie’s skirt and, finishing the unbuttoning, she pushed the blouse over Evie’s shoulders and over her arms and folded it neatly. She walked away and placed the blouse on the dresser. Evie did not move.

Bridget came back. She bent down and removed Evie’s pumps. She kissed each big-toe as she did. Again she turned, this time placing the shoes on the floor by the dresser. Evie did not move.

Bridget bent down and kissed Evie’s navel. She felt the shivering of Evie’s skin. Smelled the sweetness of Evie’s sweat. She reached behind Evie and undid the skirt’s button and then unzipped it, gently pulling it over Evie’s hips and down her bare legs and lifting it after Evie lifted one and then her other foot. Bridget folded the skirt, turned, and placed it atop the blouse. Evie did not move.

Bridget was never not surprised by what she saw. Evie, in just her bra and panties and her arms dangling awkwardly to her sides, waited. Bridget put her arms around Evie and unclasped her bra, again taking it to the dresser. By this point Evie’s shaking was visible from across the room. Bridget stepped back and, still without either woman saying a word, she delicately pulled Evie’s panties down, and Evie again lifted one then the other foot so they could be removed.

Bridget was tempted to sniff the panties. They were damp. But she would not be fucking Evie. She would make the gentlest love to her that she was capable of making. So Bridget took the panties and folded them before placing them by Evie’s other clothing.

When she turned, she was awed by the figure in front of her. Evie’s arms rocking helplessly at her side making no effort to cover her body. She was one of the most beautiful physical specimens Bridget had ever seen. Standing there naked, Bridget could not imagine that anyone could be more beautiful. Especially since her hair had reverted to its natural brown. It matched the well-tended patch above Evie’s pussy.

Bridget was dressed in her own suit. Ivory blouse, midnight-blue skirt, black pumps. Like Evie she wore little jewelry. Only small earrings and the engagement ring. She walked to Evie and again put her hands on her fiancée’s waist.

“Your turn.” The first words since they sat together on the sofa.

Evie would not, could not be as slow and methodical as Bridget was. Bridget was desperate that she not be. She had maintained a cool and collected countenance as she undressed Evie but inside she was in turmoil, barely able to resist savoring the aroma of Evie’s panties. So after Evie managed with her shaking hands to undo two or three of the buttons on Bridget’s blouse, all pretense was gone. Bridget ripped the thing out of her skirt and in seemingly a single motion had it unbuttoned and tossed who-knows-where? on the floor. Her hands unbuttoned and unzipped the skirt and she shoved it so she could step the hell out of it and even while it was in midair heading somewhere on the floor she unclasped her bra and while that was in midair her panties were halfway down her legs and just left where they hit the floor.

While Bridget’s arms and hands and body were doing what a neutral observer would frankly consider an awkward dance, Evie was ripping the comforter off the bed and pulling the top sheet to the side. That done and her fiancée naked, they both stood there. They hadn’t thought what would happen next. Well, they had thought what. They hadn’t gotten to the how.

Bridget was the first to remember why they were there. She stepped up to Evelyn and looked up at her.

“You must never doubt how important you are to me. And right now, I need you to make love to me. More than I ever have, I need you to make love to me and I need you to need me to make love to you.”

With that, the shorter woman placed herself on her back in the middle of their bed.

Please.” Said as she lifted her arms. Evie climbed into the bed and lay atop Bridget, raised onto her elbows.

“Evelyn Manners. Were I asked to give up everything in the world to be like this with you and to be loved by you, I would do it in a heartbeat.” She thought half the City could hear how loudly her heart beat.

She waited, Evelyn still on her elbows looking down.

“I will die and still not know what I have done to deserve you Bridget Casey.”

Each gave a slight smile, ended when Evelyn lowered herself and her lips to Bridget. Their lips met for only a moment as their tongues became engaged. Soon they were moaning.

Bridget pushed Evie’s head up.

“We have all night my love,” and the temperature dropped a degree or two inside them. Evie smiled. She gave a peck on Bridget’s lips and said, “I love you,” and proceeded to kiss her way down, detouring slightly for a light bite on each of the enlarged nipples on Bridget’s breast. She pushed her body back until she was kneeling between the other woman’s legs.

Neither woman had any experience making love to another woman when they first did it. Bridget had no experience with anyone. They learned by trial-and-error, talking to each other about what worked and what didn’t. They also explored websites for info. “That do anything for you?” “Nah. Next.” “Don’t even think.” “Whose hand is that?” “Forget the hand.” Like that. Bridget learned that Evie had a very-sensitive clit with a hair trigger. She’d wait until Evie was close before licking and dragging her teeth across it. It never failed.

Evie learned that Bridget sometimes enjoyed a light touch on her anus and would hold off until she heard, “My ass, Evie, my ass.” Neither had an interest in penetration there and after Bridget rubbed across Evie’s, Evie said it made her uncomfortable.

Tonight, though, they were running on instinct alone. Their eyes would never stray. Bridget doubled-up her pillow so she could look down at Evie. She felt Evie’s tongue run up her folds. Slowly mowing it up, as if tilling a field. Exaggerating each run with a mischievous flick of the tongue. Back again. Bridget’s chest was moving and her hips were moving and her breath was getting short. But her eyes were steely. As were her love’s.

Bridget never came simply from what Evie was doing. She always required vaginal penetration. Evie, though, was insistent that she come just from the lapping. Bridget’s eyes begging her to go in. Evie with a slight smile refusing the plea. Bridget’s hands went from caressing her own breasts to Evie’s head, trying to push the mouth into her. Evie would not allow it.

Suddenly Evie felt the onset of Bridget’s orgasm. It had never happened like this but it was happening now. She stopped her licking and latched onto the engorged clit and when her lips encircled it Bridget finally broke eye contact. Her eyes shot up and her eyelids fluttered as she shouted, “Oh my fucking god,” her hands clamping down hard on Evie’s head.

After Bridget crested, Evie resumed her licking. Slowly licking and now dropping so she could taste Bridget’s cream. She shifted up the bed when Bridget’s hands tapped her head lightly.

She lay next to Bridget, who looked over. “Now do you understand how much I need you.”

“I will never doubt you again.”

She waited a theatrical moment.

“Have I ever mentioned that I, um, need you too?”

“That’ll have to wait. I’m hungry. You’ve already eaten.”

Her teasing attempt to get up was rudely interrupted by Evie’s arms and Bridget surrendered.

“You win.”

Evie’s body was coated with sweat. So was Bridget’s. Bridget suckled on Evie’s left nipple. Both of them had closed their eyes, concentrating on the task at hand. Bridget’s suckling became more and more urgent. She felt a level of worshipness she’d never known. This simple act, suckling on her love’s tit, overwhelmed her and she could not control her tears. This was passion, but of a sort she’d never felt before.

Evie sensed that Bridget crossed some barrier. She wrapped her arms around Bridget and pulled her from her tit to her shoulder.

“I’m sorry Evie. I don’t know what came over me.” Bridget said this as she struggled to control her breath. “Give me a minute.”

But Evie would not. She kissed Bridget’s forehead and promised her that she was fine. All she wanted to do was hold Bridget. She was on her back. Bridget was on her right side, cuddled into Evie’s left shoulder. Evie put her arm around Bridget, drawing her closer. Bridget’s eyes were closed. She was thinking. Of nothing and of everything. Evie gave her a light kiss on the forehead and pulled her still closer.

“There is no place in the world I would rather be, or that I can dream of being than right here with you.”

Bridget pulled up and looked into Evie’s eyes. “Promise me you mean that.”

“I promise you I mean that.”

Bridget reached down with her left hand, seeking Evie’s pussy.

“Time for that later. Let’s . . . have dinner.”

Bridget gave her a light slap and they got up, put on robes, and reset the microwave.

An Uncomfortable Phone Call

Things were more sedate but no less intense about the meeting earlier that day less than a mile to the southwest, in Peter and Amy’s apartment. Amy’s conversation with Peter began much as Bridget’s did with Evelyn. She was at F.A.O. Schwarz when she saw a woman quickly turning away. She thought it might be Bridget and as she went towards the door she saw that it was Bridget, hurrying away on 49th Street. She rushed out after her. When she tapped her arm, Bridget froze. She would not turn. She must have seen Amy.

She stepped in front of the woman and it was her best friend. Who she hadn’t seen or spoken to in months. She pleaded with Bridget to at least speak to her. In the end it was clear. Bridget, who said she was engaged to Evelyn, plainly missed Amy but would not allow anything but a clear understanding of what their relationship would be. If anything. She promised to wait for Amy’s call.

To Peter, Amy said he needed to speak with Fran about it. She doubted it would do any good, but they had to be open on this. They would decide what they would do once Peter had spoken with Fran. He went into the library, which had become his sanctuary, and called Fran. After their normal exchange about how Eve was, Peter brought up Bridget.

“Finally. I was wondering how long you’d wait to mention her. Look, I have no problems with her. It’s that slut who fucked Todd that matters. Bridget can come by whenever she wants. She’s such a fucking saint all the time, but she’s tolerable. But forget about that other one.”

“But . . .”

“Peter, remember, you didn’t abandon Bridget. She abandoned you. Why she went with that bitch is beyond me. I never liked her. Are they even together?”

“They’re engaged.” Peter didn’t intend for that bit of information to pop out and it was too late.

“Perfect. So the dyke fucked my mother’s boyfriend and she wasn’t even into guys. Fucking perfect.”

“But your mother’s not even with him anymore.”

“Fuck you Peter. She was with him then and that’s all that matters. Fuck you.”

And she hung up.

When Peter rejoined Amy in the living room, he said it went worse than they expected. And they weren’t expecting much.

The pair sat quietly. Finally Amy spoke.

“I don’t want to hurt your relationship with Eve, but I need to try to get back with Bridget. We can’t let the whims of Fran dictate our lives. I won’t embarrass her or Jane. I won’t bring Bridget . . . and Evelyn to the house. I just want to be able to see her. She was my best friend. I miss that. You have no . . .”

Peter said he knew what she felt. He valued and missed Bridget’s friendship too. 

“Peter, we both know she cares more for Eve than anything. She’s not going to cut you off. And if she tries, you have your rights under the agreement. If she wants to play hardball, in the end your guy controls Eve’s money. Fran’s not going to chance losing that.”

Peter wasn’t so sure. He agreed to speak with his attorney about it in the morning before either of them took another step. But his telling Fran about Bridget meant the cat was out of the bag.

In the end, Fran did not play hardball. There were two reasons. First, she feared the spigot for Eve’s trust would be shut off if she tried to leave New York, the only way to get away. Second, she too missed Bridget. She’d always found her annoying, but she always found her there. She knew after so many ups-and-downs that she would not have made it through without her. She knew she was unkind in mocking her as “Saint Bridget.” What happened with Evelyn proved she was human and loyal, walking away from the access Peter and Amy had given her and never looking back.

Peter decided to sit down with Fran. He drove out to Astoria on Saturday morning. Jane was out. He told Fran that it was Amy who sought Bridget out and not the other way around. That his wife chased Bridget onto the sidewalk outside F.A.O. Schwarz.

Fran did not need as much convincing as Peter expected. When she hung up on him the day Amy stopped Bridget, it hit her. Bridget abandoned her too. And she missed her. She loved working with her at the Foundation, and everyone missed her there. She missed being able to gossip with her at the office or out in the Hamptons. She didn’t care one way or the other about Evelyn, but the fact that Bridget did was what mattered. And it would be nice to have Bridget get back with Eve. And, she admitted, with Petey as well.

She told Peter that as long as no one tried to force Evelyn on her, she could live with her and she’d make-nice with her if she really had to see her. When she did, Peter felt a huge load lifted. He called Amy upon reaching the sidewalk, telling her it had gone better than he expected. Fran, he told her, promised to speak to Jane. At least to see if Jane and Evelyn could both come to Petey’s birthday party, which was only a week away.

Jane ultimately came around. Todd broke up with her about four months after he slept with Evelyn. That cheating was an early sign of growing restlessness and one day he told her he wanted to see other women. And that’s how it ended.

Things would likely never return to the way they were, the family atmosphere in East Hampton. Fran said Amy promised Jane she’d never have to face Evelyn if she didn’t want to. That Evelyn would not be coming to East Hampton. She made it clear, though, that it was a package deal. No Evelyn, no Bridget.

Petey’s first birthday was approaching. Under the rules, that meant either Bridget or Jane. Not both. 

Fran sat her mother down.

“Evelyn did a horrible thing. She admits it.”

“She’s never admitted it to me.”

“That’s because you won’t let her. She’s admitted it to Bridget and apparently told Bridget the day it happened that it was her fault. You’ve always been excusing Todd. Todd wasn’t just another man. He was an asshole who cheated on you. So they’re both responsible. Except he’s the one who never admitted it.”

“She cheated on me too.”

“Mom, I get it. But now you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. I don’t care about her. I care about Bridget. And Petey and Eve. I need Bridget. I wouldn’t be here yelling at you if it weren’t for her. We both know that. She was who I called when I needed someone. Now I have no one. Amy still holds something against me. Bridget’s over that.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Petey’s birthday is coming up. I want to have them come, Bridget and Evelyn. I’m not saying you have to do anything beyond tolerate being in the same fucking room as them for a one-year-old’s birthday. That’s all. And then they’ll be gone.”

With her daughter’s speech, and her daughter’s admission of how important Bridget was to her, Jane relented. “Just this once” she’d go along. She made it clear that she Was Not Happy about it, but for one hour she could, as Fran asked, “tolerate it.”

The party was at a large space on the Upper East Side dedicated to such events. Petey was one, but his mom insisted on lots of colors and lots of balloons and lots of noise.

Bridget and Evelyn were beyond nervous. Amy’d only given Bridget the OK a couple of days before, promising that everything would be alright. The couple had to buck each other up as they took the elevator to the play-space. They saw the party through a glass door.

“Ready?”

“As ready as we’ll ever be.”

They went in. Evelyn carried the toy Bridget got at F.A.O. Schwarz.

No one was more pleased to see Bridget at Petey’s party than the de facto host, Eve. It had been nearly seven months and Eve was shocked when Aunt Bridget came through the door. She’d not been told. She raced to her and grabbed her legs. They’d said Bridget had to go away and they didn’t know whether she’d be back. And now she was back. Fran rushed over to get her child, nearly running into Bridget. And Evelyn. 

She was not prepared for this. She thought she would be. She leaned over Eve, who was refusing to cede her spot holding Bridgett’s thighs, and hugged her. She didn’t realize how much she missed her old friend, her comrade-in-arms. After Fran gave her a perfunctory nod, Evelyn drifted away to give the two, or the three, time and space. By then the commotion had caught the attention of the adults in the room and Peter and Amy kept a discrete distance away as well. Only Jane looked away. She saw Evelyn and turned to stare out the window. She, too, had not prepared herself adequately.

Jane turned when she saw Evelyn approach reflected in the window. The two locked eyes.

“Whatever you think of me, I’ve thought worse. What I did to you was unforgivable . . .”

“And yet here you are, seeking forgiveness.”

“Yes. Here I am seeking . . . asking for your forgiveness. It was the worst thing I’ve done in my life. That’s all I can say.”

With that Evelyn turned and headed back to the now large group surrounding her fiancée.

The Empty Walls

About a week before Bridget’s thirtieth birthday and a month after Petey’s party, Amy called. She asked if she and Evelyn could join Peter and her—there’d be a babysitter for Petey—for a quiet dinner. The four had never dined alone as a foursome. Evelyn had never been to the apartment and Bridget had not been there since she removed her things months and months before.

The doorman did not recognize Bridget as they entered the lobby, but the one at the reception desk immediately did. He ran around, saying, “Ms. Casey” as he did and gave her a hug. Evelyn stepped to the side.

“Ms. Casey. Welcome back. They said you’d gone away and they didn’t know whether you’d make it back.”

“Thank you Carl. Yes, I’m back. I hope for good. I’m well. This is my fiancée Evelyn.”

Evelyn and Carl shook hands and exchanged “hello”s when Bridget asked, “How have you been?”

“Same old, same old. It’s good to see you again. I’ll let the Edgars know you’re here.”

After he did and they OKed it, he used his key to send the two women to the Edgars’ floor.

When the elevator door opened, the three Edgars were waiting. The first thing, of course, was for Bridget to give Petey a hug. And Evelyn followed suit. He quickly squirmed away and waddled to his mother, who held his hand as Peter and then she gave hugs. The babysitter was standing in the living room, and when Peter and Amy turned, she came to collect Petey and take him to his room.

Bridget was shocked when she looked into the living room. The walls were empty. Freshly painted but not a thing hung.

“About that.” Peter. “I want to hire you for something.”

“Peter. You know I’m happy where I am.”

“This is more of a consultancy gig. I want you to curate our living room. Eight figures. Well, low eight figures. If you can get Madame X that’ll do. Otherwise, your job, should you decide to accept it”—and Amy piped in with “and we know you will”—is to make this your playground. We trust you. What do you say?”

Bridget did not know what to say. Evelyn squeezed her hand. This was a dream. Empty walls. A big check. Heaven.

The others waited. No one moved.

“Of course I’ll do it. Oh my God. I can’t thank you enough” and she ran crying first to Peter and then to Amy and then back to Peter and then back to Evelyn.

Peter added. “The best part is that it’s your birthday present but you have to do all the work. Being rich has its advantages.”

Being friends with someone rich also has its advantages. Once word got around—a result of Bridget having made some inquiries at galleries—Bridget and Evelyn could have survived on the finger food and booze served at galleries uptown and down, eastside and west, Brooklyn. She got her mother, Astrid, the source of her love for art, to join as a co-conspirator and the three, four when Amy joined, made the rounds. Christies and Sotheby’s too.

Even better for Bridget were the sudden invitations to events at museums. Not only the Metropolitan and MoMA, but the Whitney and the Guggenheim. She was no dilettante. She and her mother knew their stuff. Being allowed to wander alone through museum galleries was a dream. More than one curator suggested she might like to become a doyen for their pieces. But Bridget and her mother, with day jobs, declined. When they had a question for a curator, the call went through immediately.

Bit by bit, piece by piece, the mundane walls of the old-world banker’s living room were transformed into something alive. Bridget found modern pieces that complemented those from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her focus was not on obtaining pieces from well-known masters but on lesser-known works of artists well regarded as being equal to or at times surpassing the better-known and more-expensive. Several small modern-sculptures were well-placed.

When it was done, Bridget was the guest of honor at a dinner party at the apartment. Her folks and Evelyn’s came joined by a mix of friends of Amy and Peter. Although Fran and Jane were invited, they declined. Bridget and Evelyn got the story of Amy’s Bryant Park freak-out in great detail from Amy’s former work-colleagues Sarah and Evan. Bridget also had the chance to explain her selections to a number of gallery owners who she asked be invited.

At the end of the night after Bridget received a post-toast ovation, she and Evelyn walked home in a bit of a haze.

Jane

Bridget did not have unlimited time to do Peter and Amy’s curating, much as she would have liked to. She had a job. And she had a wedding to prepare for.

Evelyn took the laboring oar on the wedding. They thought of having it at her parents’ church for a moment before realizing it would not be allowed. Which tended to strengthen Bridget’s resolve about leaving the church. And, in the event, would cause her parents, though not her grandparents, to seek a more, well, Christian-like view of the world and its people.

Rather than delve into alternative religions, though, Bridget and Evelyn decided to ask Peter and Amy if they could have the ceremony in East Hampton. This was a problem. Amy had assured Jane that Evelyn would not set foot at the house. It was to be Jane’s sanctuary. But Jane had, since Petey’s birthday party, softened her view. She saw how Peter refused to be overwhelmed by her daughter’s betrayal of him and how much better everyone was for it.

On a Thursday in mid-May, Evelyn was at work and received a call from the lobby that a “Jane Reynolds” was there to see her. It took her a moment to understand. When she did, she said, “tell her I’ll be right down.” In the lobby, gazing out onto Park Avenue, was Jane. She turned when Evelyn addressed her. They’d not spoken since Evelyn stepped away at Petey’s party.

They found two chairs in the lobby.

“You asked for my forgiveness. For a long time I never thought I could give it to you. Even while waiting here for you I wasn’t sure. I am now, seeing you.” She reached for Evelyn’s hand. “You’ve never tried to justify what you did, and I respect that. You were honest about it. To me and, as far as I can tell, to everyone. I love my daughter and I love my granddaughter. I may never love you, but if you give me a chance I’d like to try.”

“I promise I will do my best to earn it.”

They stood and hugged.

“That’s all I have to say. I have to go now.”

She started to leave. She turned.

“Fran said you asked about getting married at the house in East Hampton. It may not be much, but you have my blessing.”

With that Jane walked to and through the revolving door out onto Park Avenue. Evelyn watched her pass north, still not having moved, and gave her a slight wave through the window as she did.

June 24, 2017

They loved the simple things so Bridget and Evelyn decided on simplicity for their wedding. With Jane’s blessing, they had no reason to delay having the ceremony where they’d met. On a fittingly overcast Saturday morning in late June, they awoke in separate rooms at the East Hampton house. That felt strange. They’d slept together every night since Bridget moved in, but they decided to abide by someone’s idea of tradition and tried to keep themselves separate on the night before.

Amy and Peter offered to have an event for them in the City, for friends and colleagues, but the two declined. Bridget attended a surprise get-together with a group of runners who were members of an LGBTQ-centric running club that Evie joined a few months earlier. That was in the basement of an eastside restaurant. Then several of Evie’s co-workers at Chase took them to a pub on East 47th Street for a celebratory lunch a few days before the wedding.

Then they were at the day. Neither got a restful sleep but by ten, everyone was up and ready. Assembled on the deck were the hosts, Peter, Amy, and Petey; the proud mothers and Evelyn’s brother, Jess; Jane and Fran and Barry; and a local judge who was acting as the officiator.

Eve then walked out, very seriously coming through the great room. She was followed by Evie accompanied by her father who was followed by Bridget accompanied by her dad. All three girls were wearing simple but elegant white dresses, and each carried a bouquet. Their fathers wore dark suits with red ties and rose boutonnieres. Each presented his daughter to their mothers who would stand next to them for the ceremony. Vows and rings were exchanged. Kisses were given and gladly received. And they were wives.

Peter and Amy insisted that they adjourn to a restaurant in Bridgehampton for the wedding breakfast. Cars took them there and people gawked as they walked in, and the group enjoyed the day. Simply. As the brides wished.

Peter and Amy further insisted on taking care of the honeymoon. First class to London, five-star hotel near Hyde Park. They had a blast. Through her Metropolitan Museum contacts, Bridget arranged for a private tour of parts of both the National Gallery and the Tate Modern for the couple and they spent one night at a gallery opening in the East End. Evelyn found a local club for a run to and around Hampstead Heath, regaling them with tales of her own Central Park runs.

They found a different small-restaurant near their hotel each night and found themselves discovering each other again and falling in love with each other again. On Thursday night, they ventured into a lesbian bar that an English teammate recommended to Evelyn. It was the first time for both of them. They had a ball. They were toasted. They danced with other women. At one point they were approached by a butch who asked if they were interested in having some fun, an offer they politely declined although they did spend some time in the taxi heading to the hotel debating which of them she was really interested in and which of the pair’s eyes popped out the farthest.

That night they got little sleep. In bed, the lay on their sides, pussy-to-mouth and spent what seemed like hours exploring each other with their tongues and their fingers until each had one of their special, intense orgasms they both cherished. Evelyn took the opportunity of discovering her wife’s naked body in the morning to awaken her with her tongue, and Bridget returned the favor by kneeling in front of Evie in the obscenely-large shower which, fortunately, had a hand-rail to prevent the blonde from crashing to the floor.

On Friday night, they ordered room service, and they were in their robes when it was delivered. It was the last night of their stay and they gave a nice tip. “We could have saved some money if you’d just flashed him,” Evie told her wife. That night, before they went to bed, Evie stepped behind Bridget when Bridget was about to brush her teeth. She ran her hand beneath Bridge’s robe and up her legs. Bridge spread her legs, and Evie ran her finger up to her pussy. They held each other’s eyes in the large mirror and Bridge began to rock as her love caressed her.

Whatever feelings she’d had for Evie before paled in light of what she felt for her in that moment. Perfection. When Evie’s middle finger entered her, Bridge’s orgasm hit unexpectedly. There’d been no build-up. It was suddenly there, and Bridge’s hands tried to steady herself but there was no place for her to grip so she felt Evie’s body press against her to stabilize her as her finger continued its exploration. Evie removed it only when the orgasm had run its course.

Still staring at one another in the mirror, Evie tried to hide the smile and Bridge said, “fuck you for being able to do that to me” and then she quickly turned so that she could kiss her wife. She patted the counter and demanded that Evie get her ass on it. Evie felt a moment’s fear from Bridge’s glare, but she complied, after removing her robe. She opened her legs, and Bridge bent down to eat her. And soon Evie’s ankles were crossed behind and Evie’s hands were gently on Bridget’s head as she began to lose consciousness of being in a physical world, she too in wonder at her own wife’s perfection. And it did not take long for her orgasm to rip through her and after it had Evie stood and Bridget kept her legs around her. They had their arms around each other and each told the other that she loved her more than she ever thought it was possible to love another and Evie held Bridget to her chest as her wife began to sob.

As they flew home the next morning, they were in first-class seats that faced one another. It was, they knew, excessive, but they enjoyed being able to look at one another now and then during the flight as they each read. And when the car dropped them off at their apartment Saturday afternoon, they were never so glad to be home. There would be no carrying-across-the-threshold. They were equals. And they were home.

The 5 Series

A couple of weeks after they returned from their honeymoon, the newlyweds were in the Hamptons house for the first time since the wedding. They went to breakfast when they saw a concerned Amy sitting in the kitchen. When the two sat across from her, Amy said “I need to speak with you about something.” The two wives looked at each other then back to their host.

“It’s embarrassing. I know she’s been very good for you. But sometimes you have to suck it up and move on.”

This made no sense. Amy got up and opened a drawer beneath the counter. She took out a small box and passed it to Evelyn who opened it. Inside were two BMW fobs.

“God, Amy. You and Peter have done too much already.”

“We just want you to be as safe as can be. We insist.”

Since they’d gone to bed, a dark blue BMW 5 series with tan leather-interior and all the fixin’s was parked in the driveway. Its license plate: “BCANDEV.” “Alphabetical,” said Amy from behind. When the girls approached, they saw a baby-seat in the back. Suddenly Amy came out of the house holding Petey.

“Let’s take it for a spin.” And they drove to Montauk Point and back and the girls agreed they’d keep it.

Eve 2

Perhaps the most-surprising thing was the connection between Evie and Eve. Perhaps it was their names. Perhaps it was their natures. Somehow Evie became Eve’s first grown-up friend. It happened at the house. It was mid-July, the afternoon of the day the new BMW appeared. Evelyn was alone on the deck, under the umbrella and gazing at the waves as she was wont to do.

Eve had free rein of the house of course. She sat on a chair next to Evie.

“Whatch you doin’?”

Evie turned. “I like to watch the waves come in.” Instead of seeing them move away, she saw them now as moving towards her, like the days she hoped to spend with Bridget, uncountable days.

“Can I watch too?”

Evie moved over a bit and patted her chair, and Eve squished in as far as she could but there was not enough room. Evie grabbed the two-and-a-half-year-old and put her on her lap, with her arms around her waist. The two sat for a minute or two.

“Too hot,” and Eve jumped up.

“How about a walk on the beach?”

All of this was happening spontaneously to Evelyn. She’d never been fond of children and were you to ask her an hour earlier whether she could tolerate one sitting on her lap she would look at you like you had two heads. She’d have wished the child gone as soon as possible. Now she was volunteering to go for a walk with one. She would never learn of the effect Eve had on Amy two years before.

Eve ran inside, calling to her mother, “Mom, I’m going to the beach with the pretty lady.” Evie heard.

Fran grabbed her daughter’s hand and led her to Evie.

“She has a name Eve. What’s her name?”

“Eve Two.” Whether she meant it as “Eve Too” or “Eve Two” no one ever discovered. From that moment on, Evelyn was “Eve 2” in the house.

Eve 1 and Eve 2 headed down to the beach. They held hands as they walked. Eve loved to talk, and Evie was learning to love to listen to her. The sun was high.

At first Evelyn wasn’t paying much attention to what the girl was going on about. She found the mere going-on-about a comfort. She dropped the occasional “that’s-nice” and “I-see” into what she said but began to hear what was being said and became more interactive. She wasn’t used to speaking with children.

They lost track of time. When Evelyn looked at her watch, she saw they’d been gone for over twenty minutes. She didn’t have her phone. Fran would be worried.

“Eve, we’ve got to head back. Let’s run.”

And the two turned and started running easily along the line where the water hit the beach, both laughing and holding hands. Eve tired after a minute or so, so they had to walk again. About five minutes later they saw a woman waving. Fran. When Eve recognized her, she ran ahead, breaking Evie’s hold and screaming “Mommy, Mommy.” Evie jogged behind her.

“I’m sorry. I lost track of time.”

“We were having fun Mommy.”

Fran reached over and touched Evelyn’s arm. “Thank you. I hope you wore her out.”

“More like she wore me out.”

And the three headed back, Eve in the middle and each woman holding one of her hands.

Lunch was ready when they got to the house—each member of the “family” was tasked with making lunch or dinner while out there or with clean-up, with those getting the groceries rotating. Since Evelyn was, um, not a good cook, she usually was assigned lunch. Today was Peter’s turn but everyone knew he couldn’t get it right without his wife’s help and that he’d just order pizza—Speeddial 7—if she wasn’t there. Inside there were sandwiches and chips and tortellini salad with iced tea. Everyone grabbed a plate and they sat in the great room. It was a little warm to be sitting on the deck.

That night, Evelyn lightly tapped on Fran’s door.

“Come in.”

Fran was browsing on her tablet on the bed, wearing a nightie and panties. Evie was still wearing her shirt and shorts. Eve had gone to bed in her room some hours before.

“Can I have her?”

“There are times when I’d say ‘yes’ in a heartbeat. But this isn’t one of them. You can borrow her from time to time though.”

They both smiled. Evie asked if she could sit on the bed, and Fran nodded.

“I’ve never had the chance to really speak with you until we talked on the beach. I guess all I want to say is that I’m sorry for what I did to your mom and you. I spoke to her about it, and I think we’re good. What about you?”

Fran put her tablet to her side. She then reached for Evie’s left hand.

“I more than anyone know we all make mistakes. Except for St. Bridget . . .”

Everyone knew that Fran (among others) sometimes called her that, so Evie took no offense. She sometimes thought it herself.

“Try living with her.” A smile. “She does leave the top off the fucking toothpaste. Well, once or twice.”

That brought a light slap from Fran.

“Look. What matters is what happens now. We’ve both been clean-and-sober for a while now and we’re both in good places. More, Eve’s taken to you. I’ve never heard her go on about someone like she did about you. What did you do to her?”

“God she’s wonderful.” This was music to the mother’s ear, but Evie was being truthful. “I just lost myself with her. I’ve never been a fan of kids. I usually find them, well, annoying. But I really enjoyed walking with her. I meant it when I asked about her. Only if she wants to.”

“Oh. She wants to. How about the three of us go for a drive tomorrow?”

And so it was agreed. Bridget understood. It would be good for Evelyn to go out with someone else and Bridget, too, had heard from Fran about how much Eve liked her wife. The obvious issue—did Evelyn want children?—was out there. They’d spoken about it, but neither was firm one way or the other and both agreed that they would not go that route until they were both sure. This might be changing. Thanks to Eve.

It was a bit awkward the next day while the three were away after Amy, Peter, and Petey headed out for some sort of kids thing in Montauk, at the tip of Long Island. That left Jane alone with Bridget. Much as Bridget was integrated into the family, Jane remained at its outskirts. She was older than everyone by nearly twenty years. Had been single for over twenty and was recently shaken by what happened with Todd.

“Why were you so fast to forgive her?”

They were awkwardly separated on the deck but close enough for Bridget to hear. She moved to the lounge next to Jane.

“I knew she did something horrible to you. I guess as I think about it I knew that if I didn’t catch her as she was falling she’d be gone.”

Both women were looking out over the Atlantic.

“Most of all, though, I knew I loved her. Or, I should say, I realized that I love her.” She turned to look at the older woman, who looked back.

“You’ve gone through a lot. I hope you can feel that way about someone.”

“I thought I did and I was wrong twice.”

“I know how hard it was for you to forgive her and I can’t tell you how happy she is that you did. Especially for me. I dreaded missing out on Petey’s birthday, and you made that possible. Look at Evie with Eve. But I can’t tell you you’ll get hit by lightning. I just hope you do. And in the end that’s why I forgave her.”

She turned back to look at the ocean.

“And I love her. And I don’t think she’ll do anything like that again. I still don’t know why she did it. I don’t think she does either. She says it was because she was . . . desperate. I don’t know. Maybe she was trying to prove she wasn’t who she is. You know, what she was feeling about me. But I do know that she won’t do anything like that again. If I didn’t know that, I don’t know whether I could love her. And I love her.”

The two were quiet.

“I’m happy for you. I really am. I’m just jealous about it though.”

Bridget reached across and tapped Jane’s right hand with her left. They’d never touched before other than in a neutral and occasional hug. This touch was different and both felt it held meaning. They didn’t know what or why, but they just knew.

They were silent for a while until the spell was broken by Jane getting up and asking Bridget if she wanted anything. Bridget thanked her and said no, and Jane went inside to take a nap.

Bridget thought about the conversation. She knew she couldn’t get sucked into being a matchmaker for Jane and she did not want to become her confidante. But she was glad she got to talk about Evie as she had and that the talking helped her understand more about the two of them. Thoughts she’d never articulated. They merely reinforced her desire and need and love for her wife.

When that wife returned, she walked out to Bridget, still lounging on the deck. After a throat hug and a forehead kiss, she dropped herself in the chaise-lounge Jane had vacated. It was not long before Bridget heard the light snoring that she had long loved.

Staying In

Over that summer, Bridget and Evelyn went out to East Hampton every three or four weeks. They had an open invitation, but tired of the schlep to get there and the schlep to get back. Much as they enjoyed the “family” that was regularly there, they found themselves enjoying the simplicity of their own little place.

Saturdays at home rolled into some of the routine that the two shared during that first week at Peter and Amy’s house. Evelyn got up at about 7:30 and went for a run in the Park. She was getting pretty good at it. Bridget had coffee ready when she got back, and Evie picked up a couple of bagels before she entered the building.

The simple ability to sit in on a Saturday morning and hop the subway to the Village or the bus across town or drive into the country or to see their folks was good. As was, well, the shower. It wasn’t large, especially compared to the one in the hotel in London, but that didn’t matter. The bed wasn’t large and that hadn’t deterred them. As often as not, Bridget joined Evelyn in her post-run shower. Always a short but loving effort with kisses and suds and splashing and groans. As often as not Bridget would drop to her knees and try to keep her mouth on Evie’s pussy but the water usually got the better of her and they’d end up in bed.

Where Bridget resumed the lapping of her love. It was all she wanted to do. Pleasure her Evie. It had become routine, but as Evelyn found with her running, each time she did it had its own magic. Bridget licked up Evie’s folds and her tongue pecked Evie’s clit as it moved back to the bottom. This sent Evie into a bliss where she would remain forever if she did not know what else Bridge could do to and for her.

Bridge kept up her pattern until Evie said, quietly and hoarsely, “in.” Bridge would put two and then three fingers into Evie, always amazed at how wet Evie was and feeling Evie’s cream lubricate her fingers as she gently entered and retreated. Entered and retreated. All the while as she continued her languid tonguing just above the fingers until Evie came.

Massages

Evelyn was getting more and more into running and working out with her club once during the week and often for a long run on Saturday morning when they were in town. She’d joined the LGBTQ-oriented club. She no longer thought much about her sexual orientation since it was entirely oriented to Bridget. But she hoped the club help them integrate into a broader community and they were welcoming when some of them met Bridget at the party shortly before the wedding.

The increased intensity of her runs had an unexpected benefit though. She learned that if she bitched enough about how sore she was Bridget offered to rub her legs. And that when Bridget began rubbing her legs she soon began to rub other parts of Evie’s body—in all innocence mind you—and it became a game that they both knew was being played but about which neither would admit a thing.

The massage would begin with Bridget warming massage oil in her hands. She’d have Evie lie down on her stomach above a towel. For the oil. She’d start at Evie’s calves. She was very good with her hands, and helped loosen them up and relieve the knots. She’d then work up to the hamstrings. Starting on the outside and working her way in. After a few caresses of Evie’s ass, she straddled her and rubbed the shoulders. Divine for Evie, whose breath would grow shallower and shallower. Then down the back, this time moving from the center to the sides and the slightest reach around, feeling the outer contours of Evie’s small breasts.

Then Bridget dragged one finger down the center of Evie’s back. Slowly until it reached the crack of Evie’s ass. Mindful that Evie did not like her anus touched, she circumvented it and her finger slowly entered Evie’s pussy. Evie, with her head down and her hands clasped above her head on the bed, was always wet and moaning quietly, lifting her hips, opening her legs, and allowing herself to be worshiped. Both knew it. And Evie’s orgasm was enough for both of them. Always a slow-burn orgasm ending with a sigh of absolute contentment on Evie’s part and leading to her dozing off for ten or twenty minutes, minutes Bridget spent lying next to her and playing with stands of Evie’s hair.

When she awoke, Evie would order Bridget to undress and lie on the bed and she would worship Bridget’s pussy and it would be Bridget’s turn to lie back with her hands above her head—although she would be on her back—and enjoy what was perhaps the thing that Evie enjoyed more than any other thing in her life. Stopping only after Bridget descended from her own slow-burn orgasm which, yes, ended with a sigh of absolute contentment on Bridget’s part.

At times the massage ended abruptly and all pretense was abandoned. Then Evie would quickly turn onto her back and grab Bridget down to her. There was awkwardness at first until Bridget got into position to be atop her love and then would begin to devour Bridget’s lips and shove her thigh between Bridget’s legs so that Bridget could rub against her and the two would get each other off with their legs.

The couple spent many a Saturday morning in bed after Evelyn retuned from a twelve-miler in the Park before dragging themselves up to get brunch and do whatever they could do in the few hours left in the day.

Death

On September 13, 2017, Bridget received Evie’s call a little after eleven. Evelyn’s father, Brian, was dead. A massive heart-attack. Bridget hurried to the hospital where she found Evie and her Mom, Irene, stunned in a waiting room. Evie rushed to her wife when she saw her. All Evie could repeat was “Why?” Again and again. “Why?”

Irene sat staring at a place no one should have to go. Bridget took a seat next to her and put her arm around her mother-in-law.  Two or three people from Evie’s Dad’s office were milling around in shock. He was walking in the hallway to his office with his coffee. Nothing unusual until he stopped and collapsed. EMTs were on the scene within 10 minutes but it didn’t matter. 

Of all her skills, comforting the bereaved was among Bridget’s least favorite, but she was good at it. She pulled Irene to her and let the older woman cry into her shoulder while Evie took the seat on her other side, holding her Mom’s hands. It was a too-frequent reminder to the former nurse of the limits of what she could do.

After some minutes, Bridget got up and found a hospital staffer and explained that she was the decedent’s daughter-in-law, and confirmed what would happen next. She asked that she be the family’s point-of-contact, which Evie said was OK, and then arranged for a car to take her with Evie and Irene home to Chappaqua. She called her own mom, an active nurse, and asked that she come up if she could and that she tell her own father what happened.

Two hours later, Irene was fitfully sleeping in her, and her late husband’s, bed. Evie sat on the sofa downstairs with Bridget and Bridget’s mother Astrid on either side of her. 

“I was just turning into someone he’d be proud of after so long. I was such a disappointment . . .”

“Whatever you had been, Evelyn, he saw the new you.” This was Astrid. “He couldn’t stop talking about how wonderfully you were doing, how much Bridget made you happy. He could barely contain his excitement that night in Massachusetts when Bridget proposed. And again at the wedding. He so loved you. And he was so proud of the woman you’d become.”

“Thank you Mrs. Casey, thank you.” Neither Bridget nor Evelyn was yet able to refer to their in-laws by their first names.

Evelyn’s brother, Jess, got to Chappaqua the day after their father died. He helped both women in the first hours and helped go through his Dad’s things. He provided additional stability for Evie and Irene before he had to head back west five days after he arrived.

At the Met

For about a month, Evelyn spent at least one weekend night at the Chappaqua house, usually both. Bridget sometimes did not accompany her, wanting to give the women time alone. Once a week, Irene stopped at the girls’ place for a dinner, usually at the apartment but sometimes at a restaurant, before taking a cab to get the train home. These visits helped her, as did throwing herself too much into her work.

Irene was embarking on a long grieving period but her daughter and the Caseys helped. It was particularly helped on a late Thursday afternoon about two months after the death. It was about five. Irene looked up when she heard a knock on her office door. Standing in a beautiful, burgundy gown was Astrid Casey. Astrid, whose parents came from Stockholm, looked to have just gotten off a runway. Talk and slim with beautiful but short blonde hair. She did not look entirely comfortable in the gown; she did not often wear one.

Astrid had a garment bag over her arm. Before Irene could speak, she walked in and closed the door.

“We’re going to a party. You need to be dressed properly.” Irene’s tailored dark-blue suit with ivory blouse apparently would not do. Astrid placed the bag on the hook on the door and unzipped it. It was a midnight-blue gown. The lawyer looked from it to the nurse and back.

“What are you talking about?”

“Bridget and Evelyn, thanks to Peter and Amy, are taking us to a small gala at the Metropolitan.”

“Opera?”

“Art.”

“I can’t possibly . . .”

“You can and you will.”

“But shoes?”

Astrid stuck her head out the door.

“Girls,” and the word was still in the air when the girls—both in gowns—came in, Evelyn with a shoe box and a bag from Azaleas, a lingerie-boutique in the East Village, and Bridget with a jewelry box. Evelyn had borrowed one of her Mom’s dresses as a template for the gown’s measurements.

For the next fifteen minutes, with the office blinds down, Irene was transformed. By this time, most of those on Irene floor had gotten wind of what was happening, and a cheer broke out when the door to her office was opened and she emerged and nervously headed with the other three to the elevator.

A car awaited them on the street and it drove them up Madison and then over to Fifth Avenue, where Amy—who received a text from Bridget when they were on the way—and Peter were waiting for them when the door opened and the six went in together. They were early. The event would not start until seven. But that was the beauty of it. For a glorious hour the six had the run of several of the museum’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century galleries. Astrid filled the role of the docent.

When they got to the formal festivities, they found Bridget’s dad Danny. Of them all, he was by far the most uncomfortable in his tuxedo but Peter put him at ease. They mingled for cocktails and enjoyed the evening, and Irene, Evelyn, and Bridget took a car to Chappaqua when it was done, each feeling like Cinderella.

They would have felt a bit guilty about it, but after Irene started up the stairs with a “Now you girls be good” and stopped after three steps and turned back to them and added, “quietly” and displayed perhaps the first smile she had since her husband died the girls knew she was on the mend.

More immediately they knew that their hormones would get to play with one another.

The two had been pawing each other all night. At dinner, Astrid asked Irene if they should separate their daughters, who then promised to “be good.” And they tried to but did not always succeed. When they heard Irene’s door close, they walked up the stairs. The two had slept together in the house several times over the prior months but had done nothing beyond cuddling even after they were married. Maybe a little rubbing. They were well past that that night.

After each went to the bathroom, they reconvened in the bedroom, still in their gowns. Bridget’s was golden and Evelyn’s silver. They’d received more than a few glances at the gala. From men and from women. They hadn’t noticed. Now they noticed. Now they stepped back after a kiss, each to take in the view of the other. They often did this when they were naked. This was the first time when they were dressed.

They were strangely nervous. It had been a spectacular evening, better than either had hoped after Amy suggested it. Amy had gotten them to accept the gowns, and those for their mothers and the tux for Bridget’s Dad, and the rest as another wedding present. But all of the things that they bought paled when compared with the feeling they got to share with their mothers and the art they got to enjoy together. And no amount of money would be enough to pay for the smile that Irene gave them as she went up the stairs.

But that was too cerebral. As the two stood with their eyes roaming up and down their loves, the separation could not last long and it didn’t. Bridget bent down and lifted the hem of Evelyn’s gown up and up the taller woman’s frame until she reached the silk panties. With her left hand trying to corral the gown and prevent it from falling, her right dipped over the band of the panties and her fingers went directly inside Evelyn, who was wet and standing up only because of the tenuous grip she had on Bridget, who would not let her sit down. Bridget rained kisses on Evie’s neck as her fingers entered and rubbed.

Evie widened her stance for more stability. Her “please let me sit” ignored. Suddenly she pulled Bridget against her. It was not so much to be closer to her as it was to grasp her so she would not collapse as her knees began to buckle. By then Bridget had to let go of the gown so she could wrap her left hand around Evie’s waist  to prevent them both from falling in a heap. The gown now held up only by the wrist of Bridget’s pumping right-hand.

Evie’s shaking became uncontrollable, and uncontrolled. Her body merely a vessel for the passion she felt at her love’s fingers. She lost all control when she felt Bridget’s teeth drag across her left ear before she said, “Come for me Baby. Come for me.” And she did not hit the ground only because Bridget had to remove her fingers because she needed the hand to which they were attached to grab Evie. By that point, though, Evie was well beyond needing fingers or anything to complete her orgasm.

When she was done, Bridget gently turned Evie and pushed her back so she could sit on the bed. Before Bridget could sit down next to her, Evie began to cry. She’d cried many times since her father died. She would never understand why he was taken so young but she was getting used to the rawness of her feelings. The rawness of her love and the rawness of her loss collided in the room in the house where she grew up and where her father should be sleeping twenty feet away and her mother should be in bed with her father twenty feet away.

Evie heaved as Bridget comforted her. Her dress was unzipped and removed as was her jewelry, stockings and garter belt, silk panties and silk bra. Bridget pulled an oversized t-shirt from one of Evelyn’s drawers and helped her put it on. It frightened Bridget, going from ecstasy to despair so quickly. After Evie drifted off, Bridget undressed herself, cleaned herself off in the bathroom, and put one of Evie’s t-shirts on before getting into bed with her, and wrapping her arm around her wife.

She did not expect this. It was as if a trap door had been sprung and Evie was falling helplessly into the abyss. Had Bridget not been paying attention? Had she not understood the extent to which Evelyn was suppressing her feelings about her father? When she fell asleep, she had no answers to her own questions.

Who Stays Out Late on Thursdays?

The alarm woke them both at 6:30 the next morning. They had to go to work. At some point during the night Bridget had turned so her naked ass was butting against Evie’s naked ass. Neither had the wherewithal to notice. Any hopes of sleeping a bit longer were dashed when they heard a knock on the door. Irene said, “are you decent?” as she opened it. “We have an 8:21 train to catch and I need to get a cab because my car was left at the station after your little stunt.” She smiled when the two told her to leave them alone. “Gear up at eight.”

Irene had never seen them in bed together. They had morning hair and were grouchy but they were a couple. As she headed downstairs she didn’t dare think what their hands were doing at that moment. She’d heard one of them come during the night—so much for her request that it be done “quietly”—but also heard Evie’s wailing. It broke her heart but she knew the one person that could deal with it better than she could was with her. How wonderfully things had gone since that day when the two held hands as they walked to the house that first time. Irene had taken a big step on the road she had to walk alone since Brian’s death.

Somehow the girls were ready when the car pulled in front of the house at eight to take them to the train. They’d have to buy tickets at the kiosk at the station. They wore slacks and polo shirts and sneakers. Both would change into what they wore yesterday when they got to their offices.

Evelyn wanted to disappear, though, when her boss, Tom Doyle, saw what she was wearing on the platform. She knew he lived in Chappaqua but hadn’t taken the train in so they’d not met in town. He kindly pretended not to notice her.

They were in Grand Central within an hour.

Christmas 2017

There was a no precipitation and the temperature rose into the low-40s for Christmas Eve 2017. At about one, Evelyn double-parked the new BMW in front of the apartment and she and Bridget put several bags into the trunk. A box of baked goods the two made the night before was delicately placed on the back seat. They got on the FDR Drive at 96th Street. Traffic on the Thruway was light. They made it to Chappaqua in less than an hour. Truth be told, Evelyn loved feeling the power of the new car and the way it handled and it took as long as it did because Bridget was in the car. Bridge’s folks would be coming tomorrow.

Irene found the house haunted by her memories of her husband and of raising her children and she and her children had begun to speak of down-sizing. They knew that this would likely be their last Christmas at the house. Jess had come to New York for Thanksgiving and couldn’t make it.

The girls were maintaining their bi-weekly trips to the house and with a few exceptions Irene was having dinner with them in Manhattan once a week. The progress, especially after the Metropolitan Gala, was remarkable. She was alive again. Everyone knew she’d never get over losing Brian. But she was moving on and the girls were no longer visiting her to avoid something. They enjoyed visiting her to just be with her.

She was in high spirits when they came in. They had a key of course, and Irene was wrapping some last-minute gifts near the tree. They’d bought and decorated it the prior Sunday and while it was a bit smaller than Brian would have picked out it was plenty big enough.

When that was done, the three sat in the kitchen while Irene did some prep work for Christmas. The kitchen had been redone about five years earlier. It had an Aga stove and a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer. The key change, though, was the creation of a marble-top island with a row of stools. It was the de facto center of the house, and Evelyn and Bridget sat there while Irene worked. Irene set about embarrassing her daughter as she often did. This time the stories centered around Christmas misadventures. Evelyn, apparently, was not as mature as she’d become when she didn’t get exactly the present she wanted. Exactly. Her frequent “I’ll just leave now” punctuated by Bridget’s grabbing her around the waist and saying “And yet I still love you.”

Once the clock struck four, Irene made gin-and-tonics for each of them and they adjourned to the living room. Evelyn sat on the sofa with Bridget perpendicular to her so her legs crossed Evie’s. Irene loved watching the two. She was in a wing chair and her feet were on the coffee table, next to Evie’s, their legs lightly touching.

No one mentioned it but they all thought about it. Evie finally told her mother that she and Bridge knew there would come a time but they were not yet ready to have a baby. Hearing her daughter say this made Irene smile. She realized, she wasn’t ready to be a grandmother just yet. She stood and gave her daughter and her daughter-in-law a kiss and went to get them all refills.