“I’m officially trading you in for Alex,” Karen announces after Alex downs her third slice of pie at Thanksgiving dinner.
Alex gives Kelley a smug smile while Kelley sticks her tongue out at her.
“Suck up,” Kelley says.
“This has been the most amazing dinner,” Alex says, resting a hand on her belly. “I don’t say this lightly, but I’m stuffed.”
“Babe? Are you feeling okay?” Kelley teases, pressing the back of her hand to Alex’s forehead.
“I hope you aren’t too stuffed for our O’Hara sibling binge drinking tradition,” Erin says, smirking toward Karen, who rolls her eyes.
“If you said bar hopping instead of binge drinking, I might be more cool with it,” she replies.
“We don’t hop, Mom!” Kelley says, tossing a balled-up napkin at her. “That would be misleading.”
“Find a new name,” Karen deadpans. “And call your dad and wake him up if you need a DD. I’ll be asleep, thank you very much.”
“Noted,” Jerry says. “Dad, you’re on call.”
“Alex is like a Lyft celebrity,” Kelley announces.
“Stop,” Alex murmurs, her face turning pink.
“Okay, whatever, the point is she gets free rides,” Kelley says. “So you can sleep, Dad.”
“I’m with your mom,” Dan says. “Totally trading you in. Alex comes with perks.”
Kelley always hesitates to compare Alex to her exes, but Ann had never gotten along as well with her siblings as well as Alex does already. Even Kristy, who Erin and Kelley both struggled to become close with, seems to hit it off with Alex.
“You’re like sunshine,” Kelley slurs as she pulls Alex toward her at their table in the corner of the bar. “You’re so warm and radiant and you make everything brighter.”
“You’re the cutest,” Alex murmurs, leaning in to peck Kelley on the lips.
“Damn,” a male voice curses. “I guess I’m shit out of luck then.”
Kelley pulls away to see a guy approaching them.
Jerry sits up a little straighter, tilting his chin up as he assesses the unfamiliar man.
“I wanted to buy the tall one a drink,” the man says. He looks back at his buddies a few tables over, who are all watching. “As a thank you.”
Alex looks confused. “For what?” she asks.
“You’re one of my favorites.”
Kelley angles her body so she’s standing in front of Alex too. “Yeah, she’s my favorite too,” she says. “Seeing as she’s my girlfriend.”
“So you must have seen her video too?” he asks with a smirk, looking back at his friends again.
“Back away, buddy,” Jerry says, standing up and putting a hand on his chest. “Go back to your pals.”
Kelley reaches behind her to grab Alex’s hand and can feel her pulse racing.
The guy pushes Jerry’s hand off his chest and looks at Kelley. “Your girl has kept me warm on some cold nights,” he says.
“I’m sure you have a lot of those,” Erin retorts.
The guy isn’t fazed. “How much for a lap dance, baby?” he asks Alex. “It would literally be a dream come true.”
“I told you to back away,” Jerry says, louder this time.
Kelley lets go of Alex’s hand, and before Alex can react, Kelley is swinging and making direct contact with his nose. “Fuck!” she exclaims as her knuckles start stinging.
At the same time, the guy steps closer, forcing Jerry to get in between him and Kelley and push him away. His friends finally get up to pull the douchebag away, but the damage is done. Kelley can feel Alex shaking as she tries to will the pain in her knuckles away.
“Go,” Jerry says, looking at Erin. “I’ll get the tab.”
Erin links her arm through Alex’s and Kristy grabs Kelley’s good hand before they pull the women out of the bar.
“I’m so sorry,” Alex says, her voice high-pitched like she’s trying not to cry.
“That was not your fault,” Erin says. “Not even a little bit.”
Kelley rubs Alex’s back, wincing at how badly her hand hurts.
“Are you okay, baby?” Alex asks, moving away from Kelley so she can gingerly take her punching hand and look at it.
“I’m fine,” Kelley grits out, but it’s obvious she isn’t. When she looks down and sees it already starting to bruise and swell, she curses under her breath.
“We need to go to the hospital,” Kristy tells Jerry when he comes out of the bar finally. “Kelley broke something.”
“I hope he did too,” Jerry mutters. “Come on.”
Alex is quiet on the way to the hospital and as they sit in the waiting room among all the people in for various Turkey Day-related injuries. She holds ice against Kelley’s hand and taps her foot incessantly, looking around the room, everywhere but at Kelley’s right hand.
Erin and Kristy go on a cafeteria run for crappy snacks while Jerry paces the waiting room until Kelley’s name is finally called.
“Jesus, am I going to have to see the other guy before the night is over?” the doctor asks.
“I wish I had gotten to throw another,” Kelley grimaces.
“Kel,” Alex says softly, shutting her up.
“I can pretty much confirm that you have at least two broken knuckles, but we’ll have to do some X-rays,” the doctor says. “The good news is, it’s not that hard to fix. I know this isn’t how you wanted to spend your holiday, but I assume the other guy deserved it.” He winks.
“You have no idea,” Kelley mumbles, squeezing Alex’s hand with her left hand.
As the doctor had predicted, Kelley’s middle and fourth knuckle are broken and the other two are badly bruised. Kelley refrains from making any sex jokes while the nurse splints them, figuring that Alex isn’t exactly in the mood one way or the other.
“I’m going to prescribe you Tylenol with codeine,” the doctor says.
Kelley glances at Alex out of the corner of her eye. “Um, no that’s okay,” she says. “I’ll be okay with the over-the-counter stuff. I’m an athlete, I’ve had surgeries and stuff.”
“Are you sure?” he asks, furrowing his brow. “I think for the first few days at least you’ll want something stronger, and that's an approved drug.” He flips through her chart and looks back at her.
“Kelley,” Alex says. “Just take it.”
“Can you give us a minute?” Alex asks.
The doctor looks between them both and nods. “Uh, yeah, let me just… I’ll come back in a few.”
As soon as he leaves, Alex crosses her arms. “I’m not a druggie,” she says.
“We’re not having this fight right now.”
“We’re about to go away for a week, and I don’t want you to be in massive pain because you’re worried I’m some drug addict who won’t be able to resist your narcotics.”
“I just have a high pain tolerance.”
“Bullshit,” Alex says. “I saw you look at me when he said codeine. That’s not how this works. Just take the drugs. Don’t be a hero.”
“Alex, I don’t—”
“You’re in pain!” Alex exclaims. “You’re an idiot if you don’t at least get the script. Get it filled or don’t, but I don’t want you writhing in pain on our anniversary vacation because you were being a martyr for me.”
“Fine,” Kelley sighs. “But I’m not getting it filled.”
It isn’t even Day 1 of their romantic getaway when Kelley is on the hunt for a pharmacy that can fill her prescription in the few hours they have left before taking off. Kelley doesn’t tell Alex about the prescription, figuring it’s just better for everyone involved if she doesn’t know. She disguises her pre-flight errands as just that, travel toothpaste and deodorant and snacks, and Alex doesn’t question her as she finishes packing.
Even sleeping sucks because Kelley can’t get her right hand under her pillow how she likes it, nor can she get it underneath Alex’s body when they spoon. In reality, it does affect their sex life in that Kelley can’t use her hands at all (her left is useless when it comes to that), but they find creative ways around that hindrance.
The airbnb in Belize is right on the water—literally, because it’s “a fucking yacht,” a direct quote from Alex when Kelley did her big reveal on the plane. It’s technically a catamaran, as Kelley is quick to explain, but it’s also the most intimate vacation possible, as it’s only them and their captain, Jesse, and first mate/chef/bartender/hostess, Cassie, on the open sea for an entire week.
They spend most of their days lying on the deck in the warm sun because it is the most beautiful weather they’ve ever experienced, but Kelley lets Alex pick out anything she wants to do from their list of excursions, which ends up being snorkeling (twice), kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, and one evening on shore at a marina, dancing and drinking (there’s a lot of drinking on the boat as well). Kelley will probably have a sick tan line from the splint on her hand (that was a fun story to tell Jesse and Cassie), but she hardly notices the pain after a few days.
Kelley doesn’t think she’s ever seen Alex completely unplug and relax, but any fears she had about The Big Move are quelled after spending a week in near-solitude, away from the business of Hollywood and the the stress of anything else going on.
“Do you think they’ll sponsor me?” Alex teases, sipping Cassie’s latest concoction as the sun goes down on their final night. “I want to do this every week.”
“How about every year?” Kelley laughs. “I can see it being an anniversary tradition.”
“Oh?” Alex asks, quirking an eyebrow. “You’re planning on keeping me around for another year?”
“I’m planning on keeping you around as long as you’ll let me,” Kelley answers, leaning in for a coconut-flavored kiss.
Alex doesn't reach for her phone until they're waiting at their gate at the airport. “Ready for this?” she asks Kelley as she powers it on.
Kelley sees what she means almost instantly as the texts, calls, voicemails, and emails roll in. She put an “on vacation” message on every social media platform and her email, but that doesn't seem to have stopped anyone from contacting her.
“God, you're popular,” Kelley says, kissing Alex on the cheek as she listens to voicemails.
“Oh my God,” Alex breathes. “Oh my God!” She turns to Kelley, eyes lit up, and grins before putting down the phone. “They convicted him,” she says. “It's bullshit, he doesn't even have to go to jail, just pay a fine and be on probation, but it's over! Well, the criminal case is. And Nina said his lawyer wants to settle with us and they're going to meet after the holidays. Then it'll all be over.”
“That's amazing, baby,” Kelley says, squeezing Alex’s knee.
“I know we still have a few more weeks of 2016, but I think 2017 is going to be amazing,” Alex says, leaning her head on Kelley’s shoulder. She opens Instagram to take a selfie for her story, and when the camera opens, Kelley sees Alex smiling wider than she has in months.