Grace barely glances in the mirror on the back of the sun visor before heading into the restaurant to meet Robert. She’s been out running errands all day, so her hair and makeup have both seen better days, but they’re good enough. It’s nice, how she no longer feels like she has to master an illusion of perfection when she’s around Robert. There was a time when she’d have had hairspray and a compact waiting for her in the car, just in case she had to see him without going home to freshen up first. But in the years since the divorce, the facade had fallen, for both of them, and it was easier to breathe.
When she opens the door to the restaurant and spots him sitting in a corner booth waiting for her, a smile spreads across her face. This is another new feeling, born out of the way she and Robert have had to completely re-learn each other in recent years. She’s quite sure she likes Robert more now than she ever did when she was married to him.
She slides effortlessly into the booth across from him. Some things never change—Grace is still, well, graceful. And she’s still gorgeous, Robert thinks as she sits down and greets him excitedly. He’s excited to see her, too. This easiness between them is really a gift she’s given him. He knows it’s taken a lot for her to get over what he did to her and allow this relationship to grow between them. And he’s always been grateful to have her in his life, even if they never could give each other what they needed.
“How’ve you been?”
She laughs and it makes him grin. “You know how I’ve been. You live with me.”
“Well, I still hardly see you. Hell, I’m sure you see Carl more than you see me.”
“Oh I definitely see him.” She rolls her eyes. “I see him every morning when I trip over him on the way to the coffee pot.”
Robert chuckles, eager to move away from small talk. “How’s Nick?” He knows Grace talks to him every morning without fail and can’t help himself from worrying a little bit about her feeling some sort of obligation to Nick, like she did with him. She never fails to uphold the pristine image of a good wife.
“He’s alright. You know, rich guy prison. Not too bad. But he is worried. His hearing is in a couple of months and they’re already prepping.” Her face falls a little, both at the prospect of what Nick’s outcome might be and at the reminder that he’s suffering, in any capacity.
Robert sees the pained look in her eyes. “I know it must be hard having your husband in prison, Grace. Any kind of prison.” Robert says gently. Despite having caused so much of it in the past, he really does hate to see her hurting.
Grace shifts in her seat. She really does miss Nick. It’s been hard adjusting to life without him but she’s getting by. Frankie helps her a lot. Catching up with Robert might just be helping her too.
“Well, I miss him but I have Frankie.”
“Yeah, I know how helpful she’s been. I’m glad. Actually, to be honest, this whole time I would've guessed you just wanted Frankie all along if I hadn’t seen you with Nick.”
Grace’s lips twitch. She raises a brow as she takes a sip of her drink. He doesn’t know about what she does with Frankie and she’s certainly not going to tell, but she will say this, “Nick makes me feel good, Robert. That’s something I never really got from you.”
“Not the way he does.” Or the way Frankie does.
“Sexually?” He asks.
That’s what she’d been implying, but she didn’t expect him to come right out and say it. Wow, things really have changed since the divorce. They’ve definitely changed enough for her to finally tease him more than she ever has. She almost bites her tongue but decides not to. She gives him a teasing glance and leans in to give her words a more dramatic effect.
“Like you could ever make me come.” Her lips round each sound out in such a sensual way that’s so hot it makes the candles jealous.
Robert’s jaw goes slack for just a moment but he recovers quickly. “We were married for 40 years you know.”
Grace raises an eyebrow. “Yeah I know.”
The words hang in the air above him. Grace looks at him just waiting for him to pull them back down. She threw them up there, he can reach for them.
So he does. “Really? Not once? Not even when we were young?”
She purses her lips and thinks back to when they were dating and even early on when they were married. He’d either given her a dull orgasm mostly through her own instruction or he’d left her half-fucked and in need of an orgasm.
“There were a few that I thought were okay, but nothing compared to what I’ve learned I can give myself.” It goes without saying that other people have given her mind blowing orgasms as well.
“Oh well, things are different now. There’s a lot that I would do differently.”
“Oh really? Like what?” She leans in with her chin in her hand. A small mischievous smile tugs at her lips. She bats her eyelashes only to reveal glimmering baby blues at him.
He almost blushes. Almost. He won’t let her get to him. Not like she used to. But it’s an adorable attempt on her part. “Oh I know that look. You gave me that look the night we conceived Mallory.”
“And I still didn’t end up satisfied did I?”
Robert always loved how quickly she could cut with her words. Her tongue has always been sharp enough to cut glass and strong enough to choke a man, much like her favorite scarf.
“I could satisfy you now.” He says and he means it. It’s her turn to choke.
She really shouldn’t have had water in her mouth. She coughs. “Robert.” It comes out strangled and weak and not at all as silky smooth and seductive as she sounded before.
“Let me rephrase. I bet I could.”
“And I bet you couldn’t.” She smiles. Her charm is coming back to her.
There’s a pause. There she goes pitching those words up into the air again. This time he doesn’t have to reach. He catches them as they cascade back down.
“Feel like making a bet?” He asks.
“What do I get out of it?”
“An orgasm hopefully.”
Graces scoffs. “Yeah, right.”
“Fine. If I… win, you have to pay for the damage your God-awful toilet caused. And if you’re right… I’ll fund the aforementioned God-awful toilet.” He smirks, proud of himself.
Grace thinks for a split second, then looks him straight in the eyes and leans in closer. “You’re on.”
Grace pulls up behind Robert and puts her car in park, her heart beating a little faster than usual. She catches up to Robert just as he’s unlocking the front door. She suddenly feels the need for a point of contact with him, so she takes his hand and places her other hand on his bicep, rubbing up and down. Neither of them is expecting it, and they’re both pretty sure this is more sensual than anything they did in 40 years of marriage.
Without thinking, without remembering that this is a bet, Grace lets herself get a little needy, desperate for attention and desperate to please Robert. Falling back into her old ways. She shakes herself out of the need to please, but figures she may as well enjoy this, so she leans into the neediness.
She lets go of Robert’s hand and moves the hand that was holding his to rest on his chest. She tilts her head up so she can look into his eyes again. They’re both holding their breath, scared to move but also scared to look away.
Finally, Grace is the one to break the silence. “Your bedroom or mine?” she says sheepishly, not sure where this goes from here. It’s not like there’s precedent for this sort of thing.
Robert falters. “Grace—just one thing.” He needs to talk to Sol. He squeezes her hand and tiptoes to the guest bedroom—his and Sol’s bedroom—and knocks quietly, his heart hammering.
“Come in.” Sol says. He perks up when Robert enters the room. He’s laying back on the bed with a book and a sleeping Carl is tucked into his side.
Robert makes his way around the bed and sits next to his husband. He greets him with a kiss on the cheek. “Hi sweetheart.” He doesn’t even know how he’s going to ask this.
“I missed you. How was dinner with Grace? I know how important it is for you two to catch up and maintain a relationship. I think it’s so wonderful that you do so and it’s actually quite important for the kids to have two parents that love each other even as a friendship even in their adult years they’re still just as fragile.” Sol does that thing where his eyes crinkle when he smiles and he’s nodding as he’s rambling.
Robert finds it endearing. His hands shake as he places one on Sol’s arm. “It was great. Grace and I actually did talk about our relationship and actually,” He laughs to soften the blow. “We had the strangest discussion about it. We talked about sex.”
“Well that’s not strange at all but I can see how that would be uncomfortable for you two.” Sol laughs and it’s so adorable that Robert melts. He’s always so warm and inviting. Why can’t Sol be a bitch like he is?
“Well, my love, you'd be proud of us. We talked about how I didn’t love her the way she needed and how I never gave her a good orgasm. We joked about it, really, and then we made a bet.” He pauses. “She bet me that I couldn’t do it.”
Sol is shocked by this. He’s mostly shocked that it’s Grace and Robert. However, he’s intrigued. “And you took her up on it?” He’s not stupid. He knows how competitive those two are. Of course they made a bet out of this.
Robert nods shyly but Sol doesn’t see an ounce of guilt in his eyes. He’s asking for permission. “And you want to have sex with her?”
“No one said anything about… that, exactly, specifically. But I do want to win the bet. And I think she deserves this from me.”
“It might open up something new in you two. When Frankie I did it it gave us the closure we needed. For you two it might give you what you’ve been missing.”
Robert raises his eyebrows. He wasn’t expecting such an open response, but Sol makes valid points.
Sol smiles genuinely. “Bet or not, I think this will be healing for you two. I’m proud of you.” He leans in and gives Robert a meaningful kiss, holding the promises of trust and understanding.
Robert grins. “Alright, love. I’m gonna do it. I’m actually kind of excited, weirdly.”
“You should be. Go get your closure, honey. I expect details in the morning.” He thinks for a moment. “But not too many, actually!”
Robert gives him a nod and off he goes. The door clicks behind him and he sets off to find Grace.
Now having Sol’s approval Robert can’t help but feel a little giddy about having this with Grace. Sol’s words really stick with him. It will be a healing experience for them both. It will definitely be better than before with their newfound friendship and trust. Bet or not, he’s ready to give Grace the love and affection he didn’t know how to give her before.
He finds her sitting at the kitchen island nursing a martini. He smiles fondly. She looks nervous yet determined. That’s the Grace he knows and loves. He walks over to her. She gives him one look through the glass of her drink.
“What did he say?”
Robert smiles and gives her a nod. “He thinks it’s a great idea.”
“Really?” She’s skeptical. She tilts her head to the side. The vodka rests on her tongue. She swallows.
“He thinks it’ll be healing for us and I have to agree.” He says honestly. He notices he’s getting too excited. He’s too energetic about this. Yet, he doesn’t want to turn it down. The look on her face tells him that she is just eating up this attention.
So, he softens it instead of dialing it back. He takes her face into his hands and brushes his thumbs over highlighted cheekbones. He watches her expression soften. He holds her gaze for a split second and goes in for a tender kiss. He feels her smile against his lips and it makes him smile too. He pulls back and they’re both grinning the way they did on their first date.
It’s fresh and exciting and it fills her stomach with butterflies. Her heart is beating at an alarming rate but she likes it, likes the feeling she’s chasing. Robert hasn’t made her feel this alive in over 40 years. His hands fall from her cheeks and he instead takes both of her hands in his own.
He kisses each of her hands. The knuckles on her left hand have some rings, but not the one he gave her, and that actually gives him a feeling of relief. She’s free and it looks beautiful on her. She’s not wearing Nick’s ring either.
He drops one of her hands and gives her a wink. “Let’s make this bet happen, kid.”
Another rush of excitement courses through her. She’s always been a sucker for that nickname. She nods and allows him to lead her up the stairs.
It’s strange. When Robert pushes Grace’s bedroom door open with his back, they land in simultaneously familiar and brand new territory. They must’ve slept together in this bedroom before, but Grace honestly can’t remember when. Robert’s hands are on the small of her back after he pushes the door shut, and they just stand there for a minute, drinking each other in.
It’s Grace who leans in this time, brushes their noses together as their eyelids flutter closed. Robert’s right hand slides down to grope her ass right as their lips meet. It’s the second time tonight, but tonight is the first time in nearly seven years.
Everything they do seems to erase parts of the past. Grace breaks the kiss and this time she leads him to the bed. She knows he’s supposed to be either getting her off or leaving her high and dry, but a little foreplay never hurt anyone. She’s not going to come from that.
She sits on the bed and he stands over her. They kiss again. This time his hand catches just under her chin to lift it up. It makes it easier to capture her lips. He breaks for air and she’s looking up at him in such a vulnerable way. She looks like she actually needs him and it gives him such a bittersweet feeling. He wants to promise her he’ll give her what she needs but he’s not entirely sure he can do that. He can only hope.
She’s watching and waiting for the next move. She does want him to take care of her. She wants him to give her the attention he’d deprived her of when they were married. She takes his hand and brings it to the collar of her shirt. He hesitates and then unbuttons it.
“If you’re going to act all nervous then you’ve already lost.”
“I’m not nervous and I’m not losing.”
“You’re a terrible liar. I can see your hands shaking.”
“You’re trying to intimidate me.”
She smirks. “Then do something about it.”
He takes in a sharp breath and plants his lips on hers and it sure does make the room warm up. He can’t remember the last time they kissed like this. It’s electrifying. His hands unbutton the rest of her shirt and before he realizes it, he’s got her pinned to the mattress beneath him.
Her hands begin to roam. They sneak all around his torso and her fingertips settle for the back of his head. Her nails stroke over the base of his neck and it feels deliciously soothing to him. He doesn’t want to pull her hands away but he does only so he can push the shirt off her shoulders and throw it to the ground.
It’s already way more passionate than it was in their marriage. Grace’s chest is red and so are the tips of her ears. They’re both breathing heavily.
“Well, that’s just gorgeous.” He says.
He snaps the bra strap against her skin. It’s blush pink and it’s girlish and lacy and it’s overall so adorably Grace.
“You’re really not supposed to snap a woman’s bra strap, Robert.” She exhales upwards and it blows her bangs back.
“I’ll make it up to you.” He reaches around and unhooks her bra with one hand.
“Impressive for a gay man.”
“Hey, I touched a lot of breasts before I knew I was gay.”
Robert lets it go. Grace takes her bra off herself and fights the instinct to hide and cross her arms over her chest, decades-old insecurity creeping back in.
Robert notices that she’s no longer looking at him and he can’t help but feel a little responsible for her insecurity. “Look at me.”
She looks up with that same shade of blue vulnerability. He touches her cheek and runs his thumb along her chin. “You are beautiful.”
The corner of her mouth turns up. She knows he means it. He smiles down at her and kisses her again. The hand that was on her cheek abandons it for her breast. He hasn’t touched a breast in a long time, but he does what feels right. He gently squeezes at first. She lets out a gasp. She must’ve liked that, so he does it again and then he brushes his thumb over her nipple, eliciting a lower sound from her, something he hasn’t heard in years.
Involuntarily, she arches her back towards him a little and he takes that as a sign to keep going. He moves his thumb back and forth, faster and harder until the nipple is completely hardened underneath. He switches to her other breast and before long he’s gotten the same reaction out of that one.
He’s absolutely fascinated by her. Her body is so intriguing and delicate and the way it reacts to a simple touch draws him in. He decides to use his mouth on her, mostly out of curiosity. When was the last time he did this?
He tentatively licks one of her nipples. She squirms beneath him. She closes her eyes and lets out a deep breath. She must’ve liked that too. He does the same to the other one and she squirms again, this time with a whimper.
“Robert.” Her lips are parted. She’s looking up at him desperately.
He puts his lips around a hardened peak and sucks. She cries out and her hips buck into his. He releases her nipple just for a second only to suck on it again even harder.
Grace’s hips roll. She never in a million years thought she’d be getting her nipples sucked by her gay ex-husband. And enjoying it.
He lets it go and blows cold air on it to keep it hard. She gasps and he knows she wants to yell at him for it. He laughs. “Feeling good?”
She rolls her eyes. “Shut the fuck up.”
He takes the other nipple into his mouth and sucks again. He rakes his teeth over it and her back arches beautifully.
“Oh fuck, Robert.” It’s at this point that she realizes she might actually lose this bet if she doesn’t reel it in.
He kisses the valley between her breasts, presses another to her cheek, and a last one to her lips.
Her eyes flutter shut. Maybe he’s giving her a break.
He’s not giving her a break. Before she can even take another breath he pops the button of her jeans open.
The feeling of his hands almost where she needs him is overwhelming. Her needy feeling returns. She wants him to give her attention. She wants to feel his fingers plunging into her. However, she also wants him to fund her joilet.
Robert slides the denim down her legs so quickly she doesn’t realize it’s happened until his hands are warm on her thighs. He looks up at her and she fights the urge to smile. She knows he’s nervous but she also knows he wants to win and she wants to win fair and square.
He toys with the waistband of her panties. They match the bra she had on earlier. It’s really a lovely set. She looks absolutely gorgeous in it. Robert is panicking though. He’s got an almost fully naked ex-wife beneath him and he’s promised to make her come and he’s realizing he isn’t confident in his ability to do that. It can’t be hard to figure out. When he was high with Frankie she explained it but all he can remember is that there’s a clitoris—whatever the hell that is but he’s sure Grace has one—and he knows there’s a labia and there’s more than one hole according to Frankie but he only remembers the main one and he’s sure that’s the one Grace wants him to touch.
“Cold feet?” Grace asks.
She really doesn’t have to look that smug. “Hm? No. Just thinking.”
“Need some help?”
“You’re going to help me?”
“In order for one of us to win the bet you have to at least try.”
He nods. She’s right. He wants to win the bet but mostly for her sake. He doesn’t even care about the money. He cares about giving her an orgasm.
“I don’t know if I can do this, Grace.”
She sits up with one arm to cover her chest. She places a gentle hand on his shoulder and rubs it. “Do you just not want to or do you think you can’t?”
“I want to but I’m not sure if I can. I want to give you this. I want you to have this.”
Everything shifts for Grace. Orgasm or not, Robert needs this experience with her just as much as she does. So Grace does what she does best. She takes control. She thinks it’s sweet that he’s so nervous. He just wants to make her feel good. That thought alone makes her wetter. It also makes her butterflies come back.
“Just relax. I’ll walk you through it.” She lays back and looks up at him. This time it’s him giving her that vulnerable look. She holds his gaze and soaks it in.
He hooks his fingers in her panties and pulls them down and off. Now she’s completely naked and baring it all for him. His eyes rake over her and for the first time she doesn’t cower under his gaze at her naked body.
That’s growth and he’s proud of her for it.
“Oh Grace. You are stunning.”
That catches her off guard but it makes her smile when she realizes he’s not saying it just to be nice. He really means it.
He takes his hand and runs it along her side. He does this a few times before placing it on her thigh and guiding her legs apart. They’re both biting their lips in anticipation.
No response. He’s just staring. He looks at the beautiful details of her. She’s glistening which means he’s definitely turned her on. Her lips are plump and slightly open. He’s not sure where to start but from prior knowledge he knows whatever he does he needs to pay attention to the swollen little bud at the top.
“The clitoris.” He says to himself.
“Nothing.” He makes a face. He hadn’t meant to say his revelation out loud. But looking at her kind of made the angels sing in his head. Vaginas aren’t his thing but Grace sure has a beautiful one. “Just said it was beautiful that’s all.”
“Well, thank you.” She blushes from the compliment. “Well are you just going to stare or..?”
“Tell me where to start. Do you need lube?” He asks. He’s inspecting her again. She looks wet but he knows she might need more than that.
“Just a little.” She reaches over and pulls out a small jar from her nightstand drawer. “Warm it up first, I’m begging you.”
“Alright.” He does as he’s told and opens the jar. He dips his fingers inside and rubs the contents into his fingertips. He looks at her for the next direction.
“Start with the clit— actually don’t cause then I’ll… anyway start by just sliding through the folds at first and be gentle. Then you can start prepping one finger and then add another and maybe another.”
“Have you seen my vibrator?”
Before Grace can get out another word, Robert’s tentative, lubed-up fingers land on her lips and stroke slowly up. She honestly can’t tell if he’s just nervous or if he’s teasing her on purpose. He moves up and down a few times, pushing deeper into her folds with each stroke.
Maybe by accident, he hits her clit on an upstroke and Grace’s hips buck upwards, accompanied by a strangled noise that’s close to a moan. On the next stroke, he leaves her clit alone.
“Are you teasing me, Robert?” she breathes incredulously. She’s not even sure whether to be happy he’s finally learned it’s what she likes or mad at him for doing it now.
“Do you want me to be?”
“Well that depends on whether you want me to come or not.”
Having already established that he does, indeed, want her to come, he decides to test the waters and brings his finger back to her clit lightly. She twitches beneath him. He applies a tiny bit more pressure, making little circles with his finger. She moans again and her hand lands on her own breast.
Breathlessly, she lifts her head up. “Good to know you’ve discovered my clit,” she pants, a lazy smile on her face. She lets her head fall back again.
“Oh is that what that is? Hm.” Now he’s really teasing her. He stops touching her clit altogether and goes back to stroking her folds. This time with enough pressure to part her lips around his fingertips.
“Are you fucking kidding?” she groans, annoyed but also loving how playful he’s being.
He takes his index finger and pushes it in a little further until he’s reached her slit. He strokes over it and pushes inside just enough to make her gasp.
“More.” She manages to say.
He decides to continue teasing her with the one finger. He pushes it in as far as it’ll go. He starts fucking her with it and her hips raise slightly off the bed.
She moans below him and reaches her hand down to rub at her clit. Clearly she’s forgotten about the bet. He takes her hand and pins it above her. She finds that to be incredibly arousing and it makes her even wetter, which catches him off guard.
“Robert.” She whines. He’s never heard her use that tone before.
“Alright, alright.” He pushes another finger into her and finally she’s starting to get what she wants. But she still wants more.
She tries to use her other hand to rub her clit and he stills what he’s doing. “You really wanna do that?”
She whimpers. “Please?”
He’s so proud of himself at this moment. He stills the fingers inside of her but rubs a hard circle into her clit with his thumb.
“Oh fuck.” Her words are as drawn out as the circle he’s drawing into her. Her eyes roll back.
He continues to play with her clit. He alternates between hard circles and light strokes which make her thighs shake.
“Fuck me.” She says lowly.
The sound of it makes him twitch in his pants. Well that’s new. “Excuse me?” He presses his thumb into her clit.
She gasps. “Oh, fuck me. Please.”
He likes this side of her. He starts fingering her again, harder, now incorporating it with rubbing her clit. Her cum is already dripping onto the bed. He’s never seen her this turned on before. Her vulnerability is showing in a brand new way. She needs him.
For a split second she remembers why they’re doing this in the first place and she’ll be damned if she loses this bet. She wills herself to stop grinding into his hand and tries to think of anything else. She can’t lose the bet, and she certainly can’t lose a battle of willpower. But she’s still too far gone and in a few moments she’s sure to be coming all over his hand.
“Fucking hell, Robert. You’re really going to win this.” She’ll still hold out, but with every thrust of his fingers she’s losing confidence in her ability to resist this.
“I told you I would honey.”
The sounds of his fingers moving within her fill the room, along with her desperate pants and moans. Her breathing picks up and that’s how he knows she’s extremely close.
“Grace, you’re so close. Sweetheart, let go.” He says it with so much love in his voice that it sounds like he’s forgotten the bet altogether. He really just wants her to come.
“Can’t… lose… gotta… rise up,” Grace gets out in between pants. Still comprehensible, but barely. She’s so determined to win that she’s trying harder than she ever has not to come, but all it's doing is getting her more worked up. Robert can feel her starting to pulse around his fingers, and his hand is already soaked in her cum.
Her face is screwed up, either in agony or in pleasure, and all he wants is to let her have the release she needs.
She’s breathing so heavily and the sweat is collecting on her forehead. Her hips are still rocking into him and betraying her in the process. Her whole body is aching for release. “Rise… up.” She can barely say the words. They sound more like moans.
“Grace, you can let go sweetie.”
“Needtarise.” She says all as one word. In her mind she’s saying exactly what she wants but to Robert he can just hear the need in her voice. He wants her to let go. He needs her to come for him.
“Come for me, baby.”
Grace just shakes her head, biting down hard on her lip.
“Grace, honey, please, come for me. No bets. No one’s paying anybody. Just let this happen.”
“Yeah,” he says, and that’s all she needs. With a moan that Robert is sure Sol can hear, Grace’s back arches and her walls tighten around Robert’s fingers. He’s kind of surprised by how long it lasts, and by how beautiful she looks with her head thrown back and her chest and neck covered in sweat.
Finally, she starts to come down from her orgasm, and when she comes to her senses again Robert is still transfixed. “That was beautiful, Grace. Really.”
Grace is coming down from her orgasm and suddenly her senses are coming back to her. The room is no longer spinning but she’s still left reeling from the journey she just embarked on with Robert.
She just had one of the best orgasms of her life and it was given to her by Robert Hanson, of all people. Her gay ex-husband. He’s finally given her what she needed all along and it came so organically and from a place of love.
She feels overwhelmed and it shows on her face when Robert tells her how beautiful it was to see her come.
She doesn’t say anything. She just lays there and she looks at him with so much adoration in her eyes that he is so eager to return. She locks eyes on him until her sight becomes blurry from the tears that just cascade down her cheeks.
It doesn’t last long and she turns her head just hoping if she squeezes her eyes tight enough he won’t think anything of it. She takes in a sharp breath and wills herself to stop crying. A few more deep breaths and she can finally grip onto her emotions and keep them from overflowing. She’s not sad. She’s just feeling relieved and like everything is finally falling into place. She’s finally comfortable enough to be intimate with Robert.
Robert takes his hand and gently turns Grace’s head to face him again. Her eyes are searching his just waiting for an anchor. So he casts it and she docks right here in this moment with him.
He swipes the last few tears away and presses a gentle kiss to her cheek. “Grace, are you alright?”
Grace sniffles. “Yeah. Really. That was…” she’s searching for words. That was certainly something she thought she’d never get from Robert, and as much as it pains her to even think it, Sol was right. It was healing.
“Thank you,” she settles on, really meaning it. The tears are almost gone by now.
“I love you, Grace. Not in the way I always should have, I know. But I do love you, kid.”