Franky had finished her week of planning, and today, she had plans with Vera. Bridget’s friend had called her a couple of days ago, and asked if she could give her a cooking lesson. Specifically, she wanted to make a meal for her and Jake. They had seen each other a couple of times, and Vera wanted to ask him over for dinner. She had experienced Franky’s cooking firsthand a few times, and Bridget was always bringing delicious leftovers to work for her lunch or talking about a new dish that the brunette had made for them. Now, she was hoping to recreate one of them herself.
Vera had mentioned it to Bridget one day at work, saying she was nervous to ask Franky for help. They were on good terms after everything that had happened at Wentworth, but in Vera’s mind, them being okay hanging out, and asking her for help were two different things. She didn’t know if she and the brunette were at that point yet where that would be alright.
Bridget had assured her that Franky would be fine with it. In fact, Franky hadn’t mentioned what had gone on with her and Vera in Wentworth since the day that the Governor had come to talk to her after she was released. The blonde knew that if Franky said she had forgiven someone, then she genuinely had.
Bridget had something planned for the day as well. She was taking Emily Christmas shopping for Franky’s presents. Unknown to Bridget, the brunette had kept her promise to Emily to give her some money for helping her with the prep work for her classes. She made it clear again though, that she didn’t want a present. If Emily wanted to get something for anyone else that was fine, but Franky didn’t want or need anything.
“You ready, love?” Bridget called down the hallway towards Emily’s room.
“Almost!” Came the reply from the end of the hall.
“She’s taking almost as much time to get ready as you do.” Bridget joined Franky in the kitchen where the brunette was laying out things she’d need for her afternoon with Vera.
“Hey now! I don’t hear you complaining about the end product.” Franky pretended to be hurt by the blonde’s comment.
“Mmm, no.” Bridget smiled as she put her arms around the younger woman’s neck and gave her a kiss. “I love the end product.”
Franky gave a small laugh. “Good,” the brunette said, lowering her head to kiss Bridget again.
They were lost in their kiss until the sound of Vera clearing her throat got their attention.
“Oh, sorry, Vera. We didn’t hear you come in.” The blonde gave her an apologetic smile.
“No worries,” the smaller brunette sat the bags of groceries she’d brought on the kitchen island.
“I’m ready!” Em ran to the door to get her shoes.
“That’s my cue,” Bridget said, giving them both a smile. “Have fun you guys! I’ll see you for supper.” She gave Franky another quick kiss, and squeezed Vera’s shoulder on the way by.
“Don’t be late! We’re making some good stuff here,” Franky called down the hall after Bridget. “Alright, ready to get started?”
Vera gave a nod, and began unpacking the bags of food she had brought with her.
It wasn’t long before Bridget and Emily arrived at the shopping district. Franky and the blonde had decided they would have a small Christmas and get each other just one or two gifts. Bridget had a feeling though that they would end up spoiling Emily.
"Which store are we going to?" Emily asked as they walked along.
"Well, there's a store that sells all kinds of kitchen stuff. Every time I've been in there with Franky she looks at this set of cookware that she wants, but she won't buy it for herself." Bridget thought of all the times she'd seen the brunette handle the display set at the store, and comment on all the details of them. In the end though, she always walked away from them.
The blonde never asked, but she assumed that Franky thought they were either too expensive, or unnecessary. Little did she know, the brunette had been saving to buy her engagement ring instead.
"Are you going to buy it for her?" the young girl asked her aunt.
"Yeah, I am. I think she'll like it and be surprised." Bridget wanted to get her something else as well. Something that was a little more fun, and a little less practical, but she wasn't sure yet what that would be.
When they got to the store she noticed Emily carefully looking at all of the kitchen tools and gadgets as they walked.
"What is this for?" Emily asked, picking up a utensil that Bridget had never seen before.
"I don't know, love. You'll have to ask Franky if you're here with her sometime." The blonde never knew that cooking involved so many strange things.
"Can I help you find anything?" Bridget turned to see a young man, who clearly worked for the store.
"Um, yes, actually I know what I want. The cookware set just over here." The blonde led him over to where it was.
"Excellent choice. It's kind of heavy so I'll get someone to carry it out for you,' he said, and led the way to the checkout.
Bridget saw Emily looking at some of the items they had for young chefs. She figured that Franky's gift to the young girl would probably be something from that section.
"Em, you ready to go?" The blonde had paid, and another employee was waiting to carry the parcel out to her car.
Emily reluctantly followed her aunt. Bridget thought that maybe next they would go to the mall since she wasn't sure what else she was going to get Franky or what Emily wanted to get for her.
"So is this the first time you're cooking for him?" Franky asked as she set a frying pan on the stove.
"I've made a couple of things for us before, but nothing big. This is the first kind of fancy meal. I want it to be special." Vera could feel the blush rising in her cheeks, and quickly looked away hoping that Franky wouldn't notice.
"Vera." Franky dipped her head so she could see Vera's face better. "Are you blushing? Wow, you must really like him. So how are things going?"
"Good, they're...good." Vera nervously scratched at the back of her neck and looked behind her even though she and the brunette were the only two in the house. "Can I, uh, ask you something?"
Franky studied her for a moment. "Sure."
"When I came in, you and Bridget were kissing." Vera glanced at the brunette quickly before looking down again. "Would you say that's normal?"
"Is what normal?" Franky waited for a response.
"Being that attracted to someone that you..." Vera trailed off.
"That you can't keep your hands off each other?" The brunette gave her a grin.
"Yeah," the other woman answered quietly.
"I don't know. I mean, it's normal for us for sure, but Gidge has been my only relationship, so I can't really say in general. I think it's pretty common though." Franky watched her for a minute. "Is there trouble with Jake?"
"No, not trouble. We're just not like that." Vera studied the countertop in front of her.
"Is it just him? Have you been like that with other people?" Franky felt like she was out of her depth here. The only people she really had meaningful conversations with were Liz and Bridget.
Vera shrugged. "There hasn't really been anyone..."
"Oh." For some reason, the admission didn't shock the brunette. Maybe it was Vera's awkwardness at Bridget's birthday party, and at the club that made Franky suspect that there hadn't really been anyone special in the governor's life before. "I don't think you should worry about what's normal and what's not. If you're both happy and okay with how your relationship works then that's what matters. That's just my opinion though. Have you talked to Gidge about it?"
"No, we don't really talk about that kind of stuff. I mean, she does, I don't. She's talked about her ex with me, and a couple women she went on dates with, and you. Well, not about you like in a bad way or anything. I just mean like when she first met you, and when she wanted to ask you to move in with her." Vera stopped talking when she saw the half-grin on Franky's face. "What? What's that look for?"
"Nothing. I'm glad she has you to talk to." Franky wondered what Bridget had told her friend of her first impressions of the brunette. She could picture an excited Bridget telling Vera about this new person she'd met. Franky wondered if she'd told Vera right away, or if she'd kept it to herself for a while. "When did she tell you we'd met?" She couldn't help herself. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her.
"The day she brought your lasagne for lunch. I asked where she'd gotten it from, and she acted offended that I didn't think that maybe she'd made it herself." Vera gave a small laugh, remembering their conversation. "I'm glad she met you. She deserves someone good, and I could tell very early on that she really loves you."
"Yeah." A huge grin broke out across the brunette's face. In that moment, she realized that while she had been most concerned with getting Emily's blessing for her proposal, Vera was someone who was important in Bridget's life as well. Even though Franky wasn't seeking Vera's approval, she felt like maybe she should fill the governor in on her plans. "How good are you at keeping secrets?"
"Uh, good, I think?" Vera was cautious. She didn't like not knowing exactly what she was agreeing to.
"Wait here. I'll be right back." Franky wanted to show her the ring. She thought that maybe, subconsciously, she needed confirmation that she'd picked the right one.
The brunette went to their bedroom and retrieved the small black box from its hiding spot in the back of the closet. Her stomach did a nervous/excited flop when she had it in her hand again. When Franky exited the bedroom, she saw Vera peeking around the corner from the kitchen.
The brunette sat the box down on the edge of the counter. "Have a look." She nodded her head towards it.
Vera picked up the box, and opened the lid. "Oh my god. Is this..?"
"An engagement ring? Yeah." Franky's smile grew even more. "I'm going to ask her on Christmas morning."
"This is really beautiful." She tilted the box, so the stones would catch the light. "She's going to love it."
"Think she'll say 'yes'?" Franky gave a small laugh, but hidden under her joke was a bit of insecurity.
"Oh yeah." The governor closed the box and handed it back to the brunette. "She definitely will."
"I'm going to put this away, then we need to get started, otherwise it won't be ready when they get back." The brunette headed back to the bedroom to hide the small box again. When she returned to the kitchen, she and Vera started their cooking lesson.
Bridget and Emily had arrived at the mall, and were currently window shopping to see if there was anything that caught their eye. They were just passing by a store that let you pick out a stuffed animal and dress it in an outfit when Emily stopped.
It took the blonde a second to realize that the young girl was no longer beside her. “Em?” She turned to look behind her and spotted Emily looking at a teddy bear that was dressed as a chef in the window display. “Did you want to go in there?” Bridget asked as she walked back to where her niece was standing. When Emily didn’t answer, the blonde crouched down beside her. “What’s wrong, love?” she asked, noticing the look on the girl’s face.
“I want to get that for Franky,” she said, pointing to the bear in the window.
“I think she’d really like it. Let’s go in.” Bridget started to stand up, but stopped when the young girl spoke again.
“I can’t get it for her.”
“Why not?” The blonde couldn’t think of a reason why Emily wouldn’t be able to get Franky a present.
“She said not to,” the young girl said quietly. “I have money, but she said I wasn’t allowed to buy anything for her.” Emily showed her aunt the money she had in her small bag.
“Love, where did you get this?” Bridget glanced into the bag and easily counted fifty dollars, but guessed there was more.
“Franky gave it to me for helping her at work, but she said she didn’t want presents.” Emily looked at the teddy bear again then to her aunt.
“Well that was nice of her to give it to you.” Bridget thought for a moment how to tell the young girl that sometimes it was okay to not listen to what Franky told her to do. “I know she told you that she didn’t want any gifts, but if you want to get it for her it’s okay.”
“She won’t be mad?” Emily asked quietly.
“No, she won’t be mad.” The blonde gave her a smile. “Come on.” Bridget took Emily’s hand, and led her into the store.
A few minutes later, they left, with Emily happy that she’d found something she thought Franky would like.
Bridget wasn’t sure what else to get the brunette. She’d probably gone way over the definition of a “small Christmas” with the cookware set, but she wanted to get her more than just the one gift.
She thought of how stressed the brunette had been lately. Even though Franky hadn’t mentioned the show again since that first night, Bridget knew that it was weighing heavy on the brunette’s mind. No matter how much of a front Franky put up during the day, her actions when they laid in bed at the end of the day always gave her away. The brunette held Bridget a bit closer now, and it hadn’t gone unnoticed by the blonde.
As they passed a bookstore, Bridget had a thought. She remembered one night, when they were choosing a movie to watch, Franky had mentioned that she’d never read the Harry Potter books, but that it was something she wanted to do. The blonde knew that her girlfriend hadn’t had a lot of time to read lately at home, but it was something that she used to pass the time in Wentworth, and she had brought a couple boxes of books with her when she moved in.
“Em, let’s go in here for a minute.” Bridget redirected the young girl into the store. The blonde saw what she wanted almost immediately.
“Is that for Franky?” Emily asked when her aunt picked up the box set of books.
“Yeah, it is. She wants to read them and never got the chance yet.” The blonde headed to the checkout.
Later that night after all their shopping was done, Bridget and Emily returned home to find the house filled with the delicious smell of the dinner that Franky and Vera had cooked.
“Oo, smells good in here, baby,” Bridget said, giving Franky a kiss. “What did you guys make?”
“Chicken parm. The same thing I made for you on our first date.” The brunette gave her girlfriend a wink.
“Ah, I remember, it was delicious. Jake will love it, Vera.”
Franky looked around and saw that the two hadn’t brought any bags in with them. “Do you need help carrying stuff in?” she asked the blonde.
“Nope, it’s all staying in the car until sometime you’re not around.” Bridget giggled when she saw the fake look of hurt on her girlfriend’s face. “Christmas secrets, baby.”
“Sounds like you had a successful day,” Vera said as she checked the meal cooking on the stove.
“Yeah, we did. I think my shopping is done now,” the blonde said as she started to get the dishes down out of the cabinet.
“Hey, Em!” Franky called down the hallway.
“Yeah?” the young girl asked, sticking her head out of her bedroom door.
“You and me tomorrow, yeah? We’re going shopping.”
“Okay!” Emily’s face lit up, and she ducked her head back inside her room.
After a few minutes, they were all sitting around the table eating.
Later that evening, Bridget was laying in bed waiting for Franky to finish checking to make sure the doors were all locked. She had debated with herself ever since she’d found out that the brunette had given money to Emily, whether or not to say anything about it. She didn’t want to spoil the surprise and tell Franky what the young girl had bought for her, but she also didn’t want Franky to say that she shouldn’t have bought it since Emily was already worried that the brunette would be mad.
“Baby, I need to tell you something, but you can’t let Em know that I told you,” Bridget said as she cuddled into Franky’s side when the brunette finally crawled into their bed.
“That sounds ominous, Gidge.” Franky gave her a half smile.
“Nah, it’s nothing bad. When Em and I were shopping today, she told me that you gave her money for helping you.”
Franky thought for a minute that maybe Bridget was upset. She hadn’t asked her if it was okay to give the young girl money. “Yeah, I did. She said she wanted to buy presents, and I kind of used that as an excuse to give her some money. I didn’t want her to feel like I was just giving it to her for no reason.”
“That’s fine, I think it was a good idea actually. Today when we were shopping though, she wanted to buy something for you. She was worried you’d be mad though because you said you didn’t want any presents.” The blonde glanced up at Franky. “She really wanted to get you something so I told her it was okay, and that you wouldn’t be mad. So when you see a gift from her, just don’t say anything about it, okay?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would upset her. There’s just really nothing I would ask for, so I said she should spend it on you.” The brunette took a deep breath. “I won’t say anything, and I’m not upset. I wouldn’t have been even if you hadn’t told me.”
“I know, baby.” Bridget stretched up and gave her a kiss. “You’re really good with her.”
Franky turned onto her side, and pulled the blonde in for another kiss. She felt Bridget press against her. “Babe?” the brunette asked, breaking their kiss.
“Mmm?” It came out half as a response to her girlfriend’s question, and half as a protest to the brunette pulling away from her.
“Do you think we’re normal?”
“What?” Bridget let out a laugh that Franky wasn’t expecting.
“Do you think we’re normal? Like do we act like a normal couple?” Vera’s question earlier had her thinking, and she wanted to know Bridget’s opinion. Franky knew that the blonde had been in relationships before, so she would have something to compare it to. Not to mention, being a psychologist, she’d have heard about many people’s relationships during their sessions.
“Well first of all, what’s normal? And second, in what way are you asking about?” Bridget let her fingers find their way under the hem of Franky’s shirt to gently brush the soft skin on her lower back.
“In that way. Stuff like that.” The brunette’s eye flicked downward, indicating that she was referring to what Bridget was doing with her hand. When the blonde didn’t immediately answer, Franky continued. “You know how Vera saw us kissing when she came in?”
“She asked me if that was normal for a couple to do. Like if it was normal that we’re as affectionate with each other as we are.” Franky saw a small smile appear on the blonde’s face.
“What did you tell her?” Bridget asked quietly.
“I said that I didn’t know what normal was, but that how we are was normal for us.” The brunette returned her girlfriend’s smile.
“I think that’s the perfect answer.” The blonde gave her a small kiss.
“Were your other relationships like this?” Franky didn’t like to think about her girlfriend being with someone else, so she rarely, if ever asked questions about her exes. This time though, Vera’s comments had made her curious. Not having any of her own relationships to draw from, she decided to ask.
“No. Maybe in the first month or so, but it was never anything that persisted like this.” Bridget watched Franky’s face as the brunette’s eyes fluttered shut for a second when her fingers passed over a sensitive spot on the younger woman’s back. The blonde leaned in and gave her another kiss.
“Okay,” Franky whispered, pulling her closer. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Bridget continued her movements with her fingers on the brunette’s back until she felt Franky’s arms relax a bit around her, indicating that she’d fallen asleep.
The next morning after breakfast, Franky and Emily headed out to do their Christmas shopping. The brunette knew that Emily had been out the day before with Bridget, so she was hoping they would find what they were looking for quickly before the young girl got too tired.
“Have you thought about what you want to get for Auntie?” Franky asked as they walked into the mall.
“Yeah, but I’m not sure what she’d like,” Emily said quietly.
“I’m sure she’d like anything you pick for her. We’ll have a look around and see if there’s anything you like.” Franky felt the young girl reach up and take her hand.
“Do you know what you’re going to get for her?”
“Yeah. I just need to find the store.” The brunette looked around until she spotted what she was searching for. “Over here, bub.” She led Emily into a store.
“Can I help you?” the saleswoman asked from behind the counter.
“Yeah, actually, I’d like to get a custom poster made.”
“Sure. What would you like?” She took a form from under the counter to fill out.
“I have it right here.” Franky reached into her pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. She unfolded it, and laid it on the counter. “I’d like a map of this area of the city,” she said, pointing to an area on her paper. “Then I want these three spots marked on the map, then the coordinates listed below with these dates beside them.”
“No problem. If you’ll just fill this out with your contact info, then we’ll email you with our design and once you okay it, we’ll get it made.” The saleswoman slid the piece of paper across the counter to the brunette.
“Can I get it framed as well?” Franky asked as she filled out the form.
“Of course. There’s an option for that you can check off at the bottom.”
The brunette nodded her head, and finished filling out the form. The saleswoman told her it would probably be a couple of days before she could pick it up. Franky had also ordered theatre tickets to a show that Bridget had mentioned she’d like to see, so her shopping was now done. She’d gladly have bought much more, but she still had to buy gifts for Liz and Emily, and the engagement ring had taken most of the money she had saved.
“I want to get Auntie Bridge something fun, because she works a lot.” Emily said as she walked through the mall with Franky a few moments later.
“Hmm, okay.” The brunette thought for a minute. “Do you want to get something for her to do, or something to read, or…?”
“Something to do nothing.”
Franky was confused for a moment by the young girl’s statement. “You mean something relaxing?”
“Yeah! But what?” Emily shrugged.
“Well, it could be something to read, or watch….” The brunette trailed off. She realized that maybe both her and Bridget were bad at relaxing since she couldn’t think of anything more than those two suggestions.
“What are those?” the young girl asked, pointing to the window display of a nearby store.
“Ah! Those are bath bombs. You put them in the water when you take a bath and they’re fizzy and smell really good,” Franky explained.
“Baths are relaxing.”
“Yeah, they are.” The brunette smiled. She could picture Bridget relaxing after a long day. “Let’s go have a look at them.”
By the end of the morning, Emily had picked up the set of bath bombs and coffee mug that said “#1 Aunt” for Bridget, and an assortment of teas for Liz.
When they arrived home, Bridget was working on getting lunch ready.
“Can I help?” Emily asked when she saw her aunt in the kitchen.
The blonde looked up, surprised. “Yeah, of course.” It was the first time that the young girl had asked to cook with her.
“Maybe now’s a good time to tell her about the class,” Franky whispered in Bridget’s ear, then gave her a kiss on the cheek. The older woman gave a small nod.
“So Em, you know we signed you up for some classes this summer, yeah?” Bridget asked, as she slid some veggies in front of her niece to cut up for the salad.
“Yeah. Art with Bea, and science, and one with Franky!”
“Two with me actually, bub,” the brunette said, sitting down on one of the stools on the opposite side of the kitchen island.
Emily had stopped cutting the vegetables and looked to Franky then her aunt.
“I signed you and I up for a class with her too. So you’ll have one on your own, and one with me.” Bridget watched as it took a moment for it to sink in for the young girl, then Emily’s face lit up and she put her arms around Bridget. “Whoa, careful.” The blonde took the knife that Emily had forgotten she was holding, and laid it on the countertop.
Franky smiled, and caught the blonde’s eye. She was happy that Emily was excited to be taking a class with her aunt.
“Where did you spend Christmas before?” Franky asked as Bridget laid against her side in bed that night.
“I usually flew to Sydney and stayed with Tim and his family.”
Franky felt the blonde move a bit closer. “Shit, I’m sorry, Gidge.”
“It’s okay.” Bridget gave her a small smile. “I have you and Emily. Did you mention it to Liz yet?”
“Yeah, she loved the idea.” Franky saw a small smile appear on the older woman’s face. “We’re putting a tree up, right?”
“Yeah, baby.” Bridget gave a small laugh.
“We should all make cookies too.” The more the brunette thought about the upcoming holiday, the more excited and awake she felt.
“That sounds lovely, but baby,” the blonde placed her hand on Franky’s cheek so she’d turn to look at her. “Maybe now isn’t the time to think about all those things. You should be relaxing and going to sleep, not waking up.” Bridget gave her girlfriend a kiss.
“You’re right.” Franky gave her another kiss, and laid on her side to face the blonde. She was quiet for a moment, then her mind drifted back to her conversation with Vera the day before. “What about Vera?”
“Hmm?” Came Bridget’s half-asleep reply.
“Where does Vera go for Christmas?”
“Since her mom passed away, she usually spent them with me. Whether I was here or in Sydney. I assume this year she’ll be with Jake.” The blonde snuggled into Franky’s chest. She was definitely ready for sleep.
“If she doesn’t spend it with Jake then she should be here with us,” Franky said as she rubbed Bridget’s back.
The older woman opened her eyes and pulled back a bit so she could see Franky’s face. “Are her and Jake having problems?” Bridget hadn’t thought much about it when the younger woman had mentioned that Vera asked about how ‘normal’ couples act, but maybe there was more to that question than just curiosity.
“I don’t think so. I’m just saying she shouldn’t be alone, so if she’s not with him then she should be here with us.” In all honesty Franky did think there were problems between Jake and Vera or at the very least, Bridget’s friend was questioning her feelings.
“Okay. I’ll mention it to her.” The blonde put her head back down. “Let’s get some sleep now.”
“I love you,” Franky said quietly. Bridget felt a soft kiss on the top of her head.
“I love you, too.” Her reply was barely audible, but the brunette caught it.