The bench is cold beneath her, but her face, resting in her hands, is hot. Her tears are still dripping through her fingers, and she can’t quite bring herself to try and cry quietly. She feels so stupid. At what point did she ever think telling Bernie how she felt would be a good idea? Especially after their conversation in their office the day after, she should have realised. Bernie doesn’t want her. But a small part of her brain hopes that maybe Bernie does want her, wants her as much as she does, maybe she wants her too much and that’s why she had to leave.
She turns her face out of her hands and looks over into the bushes, starting when she finds the bush that her mother’s ashes are, and chuckles to herself despite the constant stream of tears.
You’re being stupid, Rena, someone as pretty as her wouldn’t want you. She can almost hear her mother’s voice patronising her, chastising her for being so utterly senseless. Serena decides she’s had enough of her mother, and looks further over, to the carpark. Her breath hitches as she catches the glimmer of blonde hair bobbing up and down. She can only see the back of her head, but she’s sure it’s Bernie, and she realises that she’s banging her head against the steering wheel.
It’s her last chance, she’s already humiliated herself in front of her entire ward, what’s she got to lose? She slings her bag across her shoulder and starts walking.
“Bernie!” She shouts across the carpark. Bernie whips her head around and looks at her, startled, and Serena sees her hand reach down to push down the handbrake. “Bernie!” she tries again, starting the ghastly task of jogging towards Bernie’s car. I hate running, she thinks, but it’s worth it when she reaches the passenger side and Bernie pulls the handbrake back up.
“Serena, don’t,” Bernie says, but Serena blatantly ignores her protests and slips into the passenger seat.
“Are you going to tell me why you’re so desperate to leave?” Serena asks, her tone cold but her eyes - still streaming tears - betray her. “You at least owe me a proper explanation.”
“I’m not desperate to leave,” Bernie says, as if it’s obvious. Serena quirks a brow sinks further into Bernie’s passenger seat.
“Okay. Sure. Fine. We can leave it till later. But now; you’re going to drive us to your place, and we’re going to have that dinner you were talking about before, okay?”
“I don’t think this is a good idea, Serena.”
“Maybe it’s not, but you’ve got to hear me out, and then you can decide if you still want to go,” Serena says, and Bernie relents with a nod and an eye roll, before reversing out of her park and driving out.
Serena has to fight the urge to reach out a hand for Bernie’s thigh the whole way home. She so wants to touch Bernie, to tell her how much she wants her, how much she loves her. Serena thinks about how far they would have gone in the office this morning had Raf not interrupted them. Would she have taken it further? Would Bernie have? She imagines pushing Bernie back against her desk, having her, whichever way she wanted, whichever way Bernie would have wanted.
Bernie pulling the car into her driveway pulls her from her thoughts. She coughs a little, startled, and squeezes her thighs together in the hopes it will alleviate the ache that she knows only one person – one woman – can sate.
“You alright?” Bernie asks, and she turns her head to smile and nod at her, then unclips her seatbelt and walks up the gravel path towards Bernie’s front door. “My mothers’, I kept it after she died, and since everything with Marcus and the divorce-”
“It’s lovely, Bernie,” Serena interrupts, looking around the hallway and into the living room. “Really, it’s very you.”
“Thank you, um, wine?”
They sit on Bernie’s couch, glasses poised in fingertips and eyes locked on each other’s. Serena doesn’t know how to approach this anymore; most her courage used up earlier. Luckily, for once, Bernie finds her words and beats her to it.
“Let me tell you what I do know,” Bernie says, her voice so soft and Serena can barely stop herself from launching at Bernie and pressing her down into the sofa and having her way with her. She nods instead, reminds herself that they have only kissed twice, that that sort of advancement would most likely not be welcome at this stage.
“Okay,” she whispers, and sees Bernie take a steadying breath before talking.
“I know that this is all new to you, hell, its new to me too in some ways. And I know that I care about you, a lot, and that I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m worried that by staying I’ll be doing just that.”
“What about what I think, what I want?” Serena asks before she can stop herself. It comes out more malicious than she intended, and she sees the flash of hurt across Bernie’s features. “Do my feelings not get acknowledged? Because I sure as hell are feeling them, and I highly doubt you running off to Kiev is going to make me stop loving you.” The words tumble from her mouth before she realises, and she looks at Bernie to see her tense, her eyes wide and confused. “Shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”
“No, I can’t imagine you did.”
“I’ll go, it’s okay, do what you need to, and if that turns out to be going to Kiev then so be it. Shit,” she says, getting up from the sofa and slipping on her coat. She makes it to Bernie’s front door before she realises that she didn’t bring her car and if she called a taxi she’d have to wait with Bernie. Walking it is then.
“Serena wait!” Bernie shouts, catching up to her and grasping one of Serena’s hands, just as she had done earlier in front of everyone. Serena stops and turns around to face Bernie, and then suddenly finds herself being pressed between the cool wood of the door and Bernie’s body. Their lips crash together and tongues fight for dominance. Bernie manages to get Serena out of her coat, lips still frantically kissing and bodies sliding together.
“Bed?” Bernie asks, breaking away and running her hands up and down Serena’s flank.