Prologue | Summer, 1965 | Catra
“He’s going to be home any minute - we can’t -” Adora protested, but her eyes briefly flicked to Catra’s lips.
“That hasn’t stopped us before,” Catra replied softly, pulling Adora’s high ponytail out to fluster her. Right on cue, Adora made a small, displeased whine at the motion.
“Hey! It took me a long time to get that stupid ponytail to look right,” she huffed, patting her hair down. Catra took over for her, running her hands through the blonde strands, scratching slightly at her scalp. Adora’s eyes fluttered shut at the sensation, her exasperation visibly fading. She leaned in to kiss Catra, apparently done with pretense.
Catra couldn't blame her for giving in so easily or for being worried in the first place. They hadn’t had any time alone over the past two weeks, as Adora’s husband was uncharacteristically present. Adora resumed her duties as his housewife and property. Catra resumed her duties as Finn’s full-time nanny, with an additional job from Adora's husband - keeping an eye on his wife.
Catra tightened her hand in Adora’s hair, feeling her shuddering breath against her lips. She walked Adora back to the washing machine and smiled as Adora lifted herself onto the hood. She whimpered as Catra’s hands found her waist again - such a pretty noise, all for her. Catra's hands dipped under Adora’s dress, running her hands up her thighs, groaning when she realized there was nothing underneath.
Adora leaned back, moving her dress out of the way, slowly, spreading her legs wider, so Catra could see more of her. She looked fucking beautiful with her lips swollen, her hair a mess, her dress rucked up against her hips. Catra pulled Adora forward to the edge of the machine wordlessly, dropping to her knees.
Adora gently stopped Catra’s head with her hand, running a thumb over her cheekbone. “I missed you,” she whispered.
“I’m right here,” Catra promised, delighting in Adora’s sharp cry at the first flick of Catra’s tongue.
Catra kept an eye on Adora - just not in the way her husband had intended upon her employment.
January 1965 | Adora
Adora’s husband was away on business, but he’d made himself clear on a few things before he’d left. For one, she was no longer allowed to be alone, apparently. She was accustomed to having this time to herself, free of dresses, dishes, and heels - and not being forced to discipline her child for arbitrary things. The two of them didn’t have to put on a show when her husband was gone; everything didn’t have to be so pristine and perfect. She looked forward to the times she could just be with Finn.
She had never met anyone like her child before. He - they, she corrected herself - didn't really fit into any gender category. Or maybe, there wasn't a name for this one, yet. Adora and Finn talked about this regularly, eventually picking out how Adora would refer to Finn together. Finn loved camping, trucks, and baseball; they pleaded with Adora to teach them how to apply makeup and style dresses. She let them do whatever they wanted when the two of them were alone. Adora didn’t care about the optics of having a son as her husband did. She just wanted a happy child.
“We have to be careful, Finn,” Adora had said to them last summer, a safe night when they had the house to themselves. She had just taught them how to apply lipstick - holding Finn's hand as she traced their cupid’s bow, sharing the importance of blotting before reapplying. “You can’t let anyone know that we’re doing this, especially not your father.”
They’d nodded in agreement, understanding the severity with which this would come to an end should he find out. Adora had kissed them on the forehead, showing them the finished look in the mirror.
“I feel pretty, mom,” they’d said, smiling.
“You’re beautiful, honey.”
That December, Finn had asked her for their own makeup kit in secret for Christmas, and she’d fulfilled that promise on Christmas Eve. Her husband had found the kit a few days later and punished her dearly for it.
Better me than Finn, she’d thought to herself.
That was the reason why Adora’s husband had hired this nanny, this babysitter, to “help around the house” while he was away. Adora knew what he was doing. Ms. Weaver was sent to watch Finn and Adora when he was away from home. He was concerned Adora was indoctrinating their child, embarrassing him and the image he had crafted of their perfect family. Adora was worried that her husband would institutionalize her at the slightest misstep. In her darker moments, she wished he would just get it over with.
She shook her head to relieve herself of her thoughts, flattening a crease in her dress. Just because he was gone didn’t mean that she wasn’t here, watching her on his behalf. Her blissful days of freedom were over. Adora sighed, pouring herself a large glass of red wine when Ms. Weaver walked in.
“Mrs. Hope? I just put Finn to bed,” she said, pausing in the hallway. Adora winced at the mention of her married name. She hated the sound of it coming from the nanny's lips, but she couldn’t quite place the reason why.
“Thank you, Ms. Weaver - and please, call me Adora,” she replied, briefly sipping her wine.
“Catrina,” the woman replied in turn. "I prefer Catra, though."
“Catra," Adora said, smiling despite herself. "That's a lovely name."
She's actually quite pretty, Adora thought. She hadn't looked at Catra properly before now.
"T-thank you," Catra said, looking a bit flustered.
Oh, was that too much?
"Catra," Adora said again, clearing her throat a little. "My husband might have given the impression that I can’t handle Finn on my own, but I promise that I can. You can take the night off if you'd like.”
“Oh,” Catra hesitated before sealing her lips, her face falling. Adora panicked a little at the sight, wondering if she had made the wrong move. She didn’t want Catra to tell her husband she was a bad hostess. Adora wanted the time alone, yes - but it could also be advantageous to know her warden.
Another part of her, the one that was much more dangerous, wanted Catra closer.
“Or...” Adora started with a careful smile, “you can have a glass of wine with me if you’d like. There’s plenty.” Catra nodded, accepting the glass that Adora provided, and thanked her.
One drink turned into two, three into four. Adora had stepped into her room to change into her nightgown after glass number three, sighing in relief as she slipped on one of her high-necked negligees she usually wore when she was alone. She’d opted to go braless, too, letting her skin breathe after a day in restrictive, coarse fabric. Catra had changed into her own nightgown as well, a deep red color that complimented her complexion. Adora was acutely aware of their knees brushing as they faced each other on the couch.
“How are you finding the guest room?” Adora asked.
“It’s perfect for what I need. The bed is comfortable, too,” Catra reassured her.
“That - that’s good,” Adora stammered. If Catra noticed the flush that was surely creeping up Adora’s neck, she was too polite to say anything. Adora cleared her throat to recover. “How did you get into this line of work?”
Catra began speaking to her overall employment history, and Adora was mesmerized. The smattering of freckles across her face bunched up when she laughed - and her eyes. Her eyes were different colors and looked like they glowed in the low light of the living room. Her lips looked so soft -
What would it feel like? Adora thought. To finally kiss someone I wanted to?
Adora was in deep, deep trouble. Her husband employed Catra, and he had a bad habit of controlling what he felt belonged to him. Part of her was terrified - the other didn’t care in the slightest. If this woman were to be her death, she’d gladly accept that fate.
“My employment confused me, candidly,” Catra said after a few minutes, her lips stained red from the merlot. “Your husband made some…very interesting requests of me.”
“Shit -” Adora nearly spilled out her wine onto the carpet, sputtering at the bluntness.
“Cursing isn’t very ladylike,” Catra quipped. Adora ignored the teasing, knocking back another swig of her wine. She swallowed, swearing she saw Catra’s eyes flicker to her neck at the motion. Adora was suddenly unsure under the watchful gaze of her keeper.
“Neither is a married woman sitting with a guest in nothing but her underwear,” Adora hesitated, carefully choosing her next words. “Are you going to tell on me?”
Apparently, Adora’s anxiety was not as subtle as she thought it was. She could see Catra’s demeanor shift, sensing the tension, becoming more serious. “I see the way he treats you and Finn, and I wouldn’t put you in a position that jeopardizes your safety, no matter what he paid me,” Catra replied. It was a nice sentiment, but sentiments didn’t keep her family safe.
“How do I know I can trust you?” Adora asked bluntly. Catra winced. She liked Catra, but her comfort didn’t matter when asking about Finn’s wellbeing. Adora silently waited for a response.
“Finn asked me if he could borrow one of my dresses the other day,” Catra cautioned after a moment.
Adora froze. Was that a threat?
“And-and what did you say to my husband?” Adora asked, cursing herself for sounding so timid. She felt a hand rest on hers and met Catra’s eyes.
“I didn’t tell him anything. I won’t put either of you in danger. It’s okay if it takes a while to believe me - I don’t think you’ve had a friend in a really long time. I’d like to be yours if you’ll let me,” Catra said, rubbing her thumb across Adora’s knuckles. The gesture shot through the anxiety and gave way to an entirely different feeling, one that made her pulse race.
“I’d like that,” Adora finally answered, distracted by Catra’s touch, feeling like embers were dancing on her skin.
Catra worried her bottom lip between her teeth, contemplating her next statement. “I have a younger sister, Lonnie. I’m sure that I can nab one of her dresses in Finn’s size.”
“You’d - you’d do that?”
“Sure. I’m helping take care of the kid, right? That means doing whatever will make them happy. I’ll hide it in my room. If your husband finds it, I’ll say I keep it with me so I can fix my sister’s dresses while Finn is playing.”
Adora smiled brightly, launching herself into Catra’s arms, hugging her tight to her chest. Her skin was as soft and warm as she’d thought it'd be. Adora felt the woman inhale shakily at the contact before she realized how inappropriate she was being.
“Sorry - I just -” Adora stammered.
“No, no, it’s - it’s fine,” Catra said, her face redder than she’d ever seen it.
“Um,” Adora said, lifting her glass to cheers. “To the start of our - our friendship.”
Catra paused, clinking her glass against Adora's. “To our friendship.”
February 1965 | Catra
Catra had been living with the Hopes for about a month and a half, but she realized something was wrong within the first week of her employment. The tension between the married couple - the arguments she overheard, the weird power plays she saw firsthand - was unbearable. Catra didn’t know how Adora survived before her arrival. Since she was still technically a guest in Mr. Hope’s eyes, she was witnessing him behaving himself, apparently. Based on how Adora recoiled at his touch, Catra was afraid to see what he did when he didn’t feel like keeping up pretenses.
She overheard arguments between the couple when Mr. Hope was home, and their bedroom door was shut late at night. He was drunk when they argued, most of the time - she picked up pieces through the walls of him asking why she won’t touch him anymore, telling her she was a horrible mother. Adora would often bolt to Finn’s room before quietly shutting and locking the door, trying to prevent waking them. Her husband never followed her. When Mr. Hope was home, Adora slept in Finn’s room.
At this point, Catra felt as though it was her job to care just as much for her employer as she did Finn.
The word employer wasn’t quite right, though, was it? Catra and Adora were closer than that. The nights where the two of them could sit on the floor and share a bottle of wine, giggling quietly when Finn was asleep, were her favorite. She didn’t have to hold herself back from looking at Adora’s blue eyes or from admiring the delicate lines of her wrists and hands when they curled around her wine glass. She gladly watched Adora describe things that she loved as if she was starving for space to speak, and Catra was the first person to give it to her in years. She wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Adora was so animated when she felt comfortable and safe - especially when she was caring for Finn. Adora was a wonderful mother. There was no reason for Catra to be there, and yet she never wanted to leave.
It was one of those nights where they were blissfully alone. The weather was dreary this time of the year, and Adora had lit a fire to keep both of them warm, her shoulder bumping into Catra’s occasionally as she spoke.
“Has my husband asked you to sleep with him yet?” Adora blurted, her eyes widening before snorting and laughing.
“No! Uh -“ Catra squeaked, horrified, remembering that Finn was asleep and switching to a whisper. “He hasn’t. Will he?”
“He just - pfft, he always does, and I don’t understand why women agree to it,” Adora said, shrugging. "Promise me you won't?"
"I promise," Catra mock-whispered. Adora laughed - this time, definitely loud enough to rouse a sleeping kid. Catra was shocked Finn hadn't woken up yet.
“Shh, Adora - you’re gonna wake Finn,” Catra chastised, leaning closer and placing her palm against Adora’s mouth to quiet her. She saw Adora’s eyes widen, felt her breath stutter on her palm. Catra removed her hand hastily, looking away to hide the flush burning her cheeks.
“You’re right, hah, sorry,” Adora giggled, wiping a tear and inhaling quietly to calm her breathing down. She took a sip of her wine, still struggling to hold it together.
“Since we’re on the topic,” Catra trod carefully, “why did you marry him?”
Adora paused. “I knew I was never going to marry for love, and he was...there, I guess? I think I convinced myself that this would make me happy, even though I knew deep down I was only doing it to appease my parents. I know he sleeps around, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered to care.”
Catra nearly choked on her wine, sputtering, “I-is that so?”
“Yeeeeep,” she said, drawing out the word and finishing it with a soft pop of her lips. That sound shouldn’t have been as attractive as it was. “We had Finn about nine months after we were married. I never really wanted children before I had them. So despite...everything, I’m glad they’re here.”
Catra met her eyes and agreed. “They're wonderful, Adora.”
“Thank you,” Adora sighed, and a comfortable silence fell over the two of them. They talked on and off for hours, sometimes in heated, whispered debates, other times just recounting things Finn had said to them that day. Adora quietly played some records; Catra told some stories about the times she spent caring for nightmarish children. Before they knew it, it was nearly three in the morning. Adora had sleepily rested her head in Catra’s lap when her realization hit.
“Can I ask you something?” Catra breathed, scared to break the spell.
Adora nodded contentedly. “Sure.”
“Why do you care if your husband propositioned me?”
She felt Adora freeze. Catra took the chance, running her fingers through her hair with shaky hands. This was risky, Catra knew that, but she also couldn’t stop herself from taking the leap. Catra knew her eyes were desperate, trying to communicate how much she’d wanted her over the past few months. It’s safe, Adora, she wished she could say, but her chest was fit to explode, and the words died in her mouth.
Adora lifted herself slightly, suddenly closer than she had ever been.
“I…I think you know why,” Adora whispered.
Catra closed the distance.
April 1965 | Adora
Spring felt warmer this year. It was the weather, maybe, but Adora had an inkling it had to do with the woman who had entered her life that winter.
Their affair had started shortly after their first kiss, at the first opportunity they had to be alone. They couldn’t risk making out on the couch and having Finn walk in on them - luckily, Catra agreed with those boundaries wholeheartedly. That didn’t make it easy. Adora had never wanted anyone like she’d wanted Catra. The power that Catra had over her was terrifying - but she never took Adora for granted.
The final snow melted in March. Adora’s husband traveled for work frequently in the spring, and Finn’s baseball season was ramping up, leaving indulgent stretches of time for the two of them to be alone.
They’d enjoyed each other all morning, now lazing in Catra’s bed, limbs tangled. Adora could feel Catra’s chest rise and fall with her steady breathing. She admired the freckles smattering Catra’s nose and cheeks, the slope of her jaw, her lips slightly pink from use on Adora’s body. Her skin glowed in the afternoon sun. Adora reached for Catra’s hand and brought it to her lips, kissing the inside of her wrist.
“When did you first know you liked women?” Adora asked softly, tracing Catra’s fingertips with her own.
Catra hummed, contemplating her answer. “Freshman year of high school, women's tennis team.”
Adora’s hand stilled. “Um, a player in particular? Or -”
“The entire women’s tennis team,” Catra reiterated.
“So it was the skirts, huh?” Adora teased, laughing at Catra’s annoyed huff.
“Yes, it was! Okay? I hadn’t seen that much of another woman’s leg in my life. I became... very dedicated to the sport.”
Adora started giggling, lifting her bare leg ungracefully and pointing to it. “Does this do it for you?”
“Okay, okay, very funny. I’ve seen a naked woman since then.”
Adora let her leg fall back to the bed, brows furrowed in confusion. “It has to have been more than one, based on - uh.” Adora stopped herself, mouth closing and ending in an embarrassing hum.
“No, no, Adora - please continue. Based on what? ” Catra teased, smirking at how furiously red Adora had undoubtedly become, based on how hot her face felt.
“You know how I came to that conclusion,” Adora grumbled. Catra giggled a bit, moving on top of her, sighing into her neck as she nuzzled there. Adora’s hand lowered from the dip of her back, brushing her ass and squeezing a little, just for the sake of touching her there. She felt Catra smile against her pulse point.
“How about you?” Catra asked, kissing Adora’s neck right below her ear, making her shiver. Adora had come three times that morning, and she idly wondered if it would be selfish to ask for a fourth. Catra brought her hand to Adora’s cheek to recapture her attention.
“When did you notice women for the first time?”
“Oh,” Adora said, running her hands through Catra’s hair. “I saw Roman Holiday at a drive-in when I was thirteen. All of my friends wanted to be Princess Ann, but I wanted to marry her.”
“So what you’re saying is,” Catra tilted Adora’s head to meet her, kissing her once and lingering there. “You’re into brunettes.”
“Pffft -” Adora pinched Catra’s ass lightly, laughing at her yelp. “Can you blame me?”
Catra shook her head, her breathing settling as the minutes passed. A question had been weighing on Adora since they’d started sleeping together, and she realized now was as good as any other time to ask.
“Catra - I’m going to ask you a question, and - and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. I have no right to ask this. It’s none of my business -” Adora rambled.
Catra laughed a bit uncomfortably. “You’re making me nervous, Adora.”
“Um, how many women - people - have you slept with?”
“Oh,” Catra sighed, looking relieved. “I’ve had eleven partners, but none of them were serious.”
“Oh, ” Adora parroted, “Can you - can you tell me about them?”
“You want to know about other people I’ve slept with?” Catra asked cautiously.
“I mean...yeah? Is that strange? I feel like you’ve had this life I’ve always dreamt of living, and it’s - it’s not even really about sex. It’s more like...life experience, having a community of people that are like us. I want to know more about that, the sex included,” Adora clarified.
Catra smiled and nodded, launching into stories of previous lovers, friends, and roommates - how the lines between those groups were often blurry and how people in her life would fluctuate between those states. She talked about the private parties she attended with drag queens and other lesbians, how the faint scar she’d gotten above her eyebrow was from a particularly nasty fight with a cop when they raided her favorite bar. Adora held her hand, asked her questions about names and places, and felt less alone as she learned more about this greater community outside of her home.
“Thank you,” Adora said, lips brushing Catra’s forehead. “I just...thank you.”
Catra kissed Adora’s neck softly in response, sucking lightly at her pulse point. Just enough pressure to make her feel it, but not enough to leave a mark. It escalated, like it always did - their kisses becoming more heated. Adora slotted a thigh between Catra’s legs, watching her grind above her.
Catra came with Adora’s name on her lips and Adora with Catra’s soon after.