By the time the kids and ex husbands have all left it’s 12:36am and Grace lets her aching body collapse onto the couch. The house had been so full of drinks and laughter and the silence is a sharp contrast. Just as she starts to wonder where Frankie has run off to she walks into the living room with two drinks in hand, takes a small drink from both, thinks for a second and then hands the right to Grace.
“What a decade, huh?” Frankie sighs as she sits down beside her, not really a question but Grace considers it nonetheless.
“Happy to see it go.” Grace takes a sip from her martini. Frankie has gotten really good at making them just how she likes them. Strong. Much stronger than Frankie prefers herself.
Frankie sets her glass down on the side table and lays her head back against the couch.
“I think it was my favourite so far.” She says and Grace turns to look at her incredulously.
“What? How can you possibly say that? We’ve had three divorces, four moves, two surgeries, and a stroke between us. And that was just the last half of the decade.”
Frankie lets out a throaty laugh. “Yeah, I’ll give you that. It had its fair share of challenges, but good grief look at all that came out of it! Weddings and grandkids and Vybrant! And a million other good things I’m too tired to remember right now.” She lets her head fall back again and closes her eyes.
Grace looks at her, watches the rise and fall of her chest. The way the dim light casts a glow across her soft features. She’s so beautiful she thinks, and the thought feels natural.
“This was also the only decade I’ve gotten to come home to you every day.” It’s quiet, the way it comes out; and warm. Grace reaches out and takes her hand into her own. Frankie’s eyes open.
“I hope-“ A dozen ways to finish the sentence tumble in her mind. “I want that to continue. For all of 2020. And... for whatever we get of the next decade.” She squeezes Frankie’s hand and the gesture is reciprocated.
“Does that mean no more divorces?” Frankie asks playfully, letting go of Grace’s hand so she can move closer. She takes it back once her head rests comfortably on the other woman’s shoulder.
Grace breathes through her nose, “God. No more divorces. If there’s anything I’ve learned this year it’s that marriage is not for me.”
“So does that mean no more men?”
The question sends a flash of panic through Grace’s body. The thought of being alone for the rest of her life. But she isn’t alone, is she? She gets to spend the start of the new decade here next to Frankie’s warm body, their fingers entwined.
“No more men.” She nods against Frankie’s head. “It took me too long to realize my life was complete. With you. Here.” For a second Grace wants to take it back, worries the confession is too raw, but when Frankie lifts her head and grins Grace remembers that it was Frankie who taught her to say what she feels, after all. It was Frankie who taught her how to do what makes her feel good, taught her how to allow herself to be happy. And it hits her all at once; that this was easily her favourite decade too. She’d laughed more these past few years than she had in her entire life combined. She woke up in the morning and didn’t climb into that costume of a woman she once was. She fell asleep feeling safe.
Frankie looks into her eyes, as if silently encouraging her to feel what she’s feeling, and her heart leaps with gratitude. She’s so grateful that they were stuck together so that they could learn to choose one another time and time again. Peace settles into her stomach when she realizes she wants to spend the rest of her life choosing Frankie.
“What are you thinking about?” Frankie asks, and there’s no pressure in the question, her thumb tracing soft lines against her knuckle.
I love you she wants to say all of a sudden, but instead “I didn’t get a New Years kiss” comes out and Frankie’s eyes widen. She gasps softly at the sound of her own words and her ears ring slightly, which she can’t even blame on the alcohol. Frankie knows she isn’t drunk; it was part of the agreement when Grace was welcomed back into their home post-Nick. Drinking is okay but drunk is not. And Grace has held up on that promise, because she’s willing to do it for Frankie.
“Grace.” It’s serious. It’s not playful or dismissive, it’s heavy.
“I’m sorry-“ she starts and then stops herself. “No. I’m not sorry. Frankie you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The whole time our families were here I couldn’t wait for them to leave so we could have our time. Just you and me on the couch, like this. It’s the most important thing to me.”
“It’s the most important thing to me too. But- I... I didn’t think you wanted that. From me.” Frankie’s voice is shaky and it hurts Grace to hear it.
“I didn’t know that I did.” She whispers. “But I do.” Her heart is beating so fast she has to take a deep breath to try to calm it. Frankie takes her hand away and reaches it up to cup her cheek.
She doesn’t wait for Frankie, she moves in and kisses her on the lips. It’s quick, but it gives her butterflies and if she wasn’t so distracted she would chastise her body for having such an adolescent reaction.
When she pulls back Frankie is grinning. She claps her hands and lets out a delighted laugh. It isn’t dismissive, and instead of fear it fills Grace’s heart with an adoration she didn’t think she was capable of feeling. It reminds Grace’s mind of the two and a half martinis and she lets herself giggle.
“Oh my god Grace! Can we do that again?” She asks, her eyes so bright Grace can’t imagine a world where she could say no. She doesn’t know when she became this person. The person who kisses her best friend and wants to. Before she can think more about it Frankie grabs her face and kisses her again. It’s longer this time and she lets her body move into it, wrapping her arms around the other woman. When it’s done Grace kisses Frankie’s cheek before pulling her into a tight hug.
When their grip loosens Frankie is still smiling. “Okay I think the 20’s are already my favourite decade.”
It makes Grace laugh. She couldn’t argue.