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Stumbling Forward

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EPILOGUE...(THIS IS THE EPILOGUE, AS IN, IF YOU HAVEN'T READ CHAPTER SEVEN BACK THE HELL UP)

Bea sat at the kitchen table with a pencil in hand. It had been four months since that night, and so much had changed. So much had gone as expected, like Harry trying one last time to get control of what he felt he owned, but for the most part her life seemed practically unrecognizable. They'd moved even closer to her job, escaping the memories of the home Harry had tormented them in for so long. After the manager of the shop quit, Bea had become the manager for reasons she still didn't understand considering how the women treated her over the years. Something about her strength being encouraging, and her work ethic somehow correlated. It was true, she did work harder than all of them for the most part, and she needed the money so eh. The position freed up a lot more time for her to spend with her daughter, which was what was most important to her after after unraveled.

“Another one?” Debbie asked, walking into the kitchen. She stopped at the table for a second, looking over her mother's sketch of the morning.

It was another one of Allie. One of a very embarrassing amount. Once Harry wasn't around anymore she could get back to some of the things she'd like to do as a girl and teen, without fear of him finding her drawings and making fun of her. Mocking her and telling her how horrible they were, how no one would ever want such pieces of garbage.

“The last one, I hope,” Bea said, with a sad smile as she looked down at the sketch. It was good, and she knew it. Those curved lips, bright inviting eyes, that mole. Each detail filled her heart, creating a dull ache there while also bringing the warmth of her memories to the surface.

“Hmm,” Debbie said, going over to the fridge. “I like them.”

The teen still hadn't gone into the details of what Allie had said to her that night when they'd bumped into each other, but after that night the teen had gone back to being that sweet, focused girl that Bea had always known. Of course they had there differences still, and Debbie was down on any of the days she had to talk to the lawyer about Harry, but she hadn't been lying and sneaking around anymore or failing any exams. Soon the talks with the lawyer wouldn't even need to continue, because they'd found someone else to attest to Harry's abuse. That former friend he'd scared away all those years ago.

After making herself a bowl of cereal, something they both did more often without Harry around demanding a hardy breakfast, Debbie sat down across from her mother. “You have lunch with Brian today, right?”

“Mhmm,” Bea said with a nod. She was nervous about seeing the man after years of not seeing him. They were never friends, he was just one of Harry's mates that actually talked to her sometimes, helped her when she'd made a mess in the kitchen once. Pleasantries never took away from the fact that she knew that he knew about Harry's abuse and did nothing. Apparently, he'd done enough to get himself in a fight with Harry and he was planning to do more. Years after the fact. “Michelle took my only clients for the day.” Which only averaged around two to three max, since she was in charge of way more things in the shop. “Charlotte is always mooning over the fact that Michelle's showing now, which she loves,” Bea said, rolling her eyes.

“Well, she does seem like the type of woman who'd actually enjoy the attention of everyone wanting to touch her stomach,” Debbie said, and Bea smiled at the much nicer way Debbie talked about the woman while obviously still not caring for her. It was true anyways, about Michelle. “You should hang that one up,” the teen said, pointing at the sketch with the end of her spoon.

“Maybe I will,” Bea said. It was hard for her though, seeing Allie, thinking of her but not having her around. Such a short amount of time with someone, and yet so much of it had changed who Bea was and opened up the doors to the life she lived, once the chaos had settled. Knowing that she could be loved, and that she meant something to someone had given her what she needed though, to stand on her own. She often wondered if Allie felt the same.

She dropped Debbie off at school and stopped into the shop anyways, telling the women to hush when they teased her about being a bit obsessive. Going over the books was not obsessive, it was responsible, she told them. They reminded her that she often had the same excuse when she stopped by, just because she happened to be in the neighborhood. By the time she was walking out the front door they were all dropping the act and wishing her luck with the process. She wanted to slap them sometimes for how they'd treated her because they couldn't understand the why's of how long she'd stayed with Harry, but she understood women who hadn't been abused sometimes had a hard time getting what it felt like. Showing support after the fact was all that she could hope for now, it was all over, and without Jo there to gossip and start trouble, without Allie, things had gotten pretty quiet.

The restaurant that Brian asked for them to meet at was also quiet. Most of the people that were there were wearing clothes that made her feel a bit too casual. Fortunately Brian himself was just in a button down and slacks. Nice as they were, at least he wasn't wearing a nice jacket.

“Bea, it's good to see you,” he said, shaking her hand across the table.

His hair was a salt and pepper color she didn't remember him having, and he'd lost a few pounds, but the man had a timid smile that he'd use to send her way the times they spoke. It had made her uncomfortable, it was so unlike Harry, and typically she'd have the two men's gazes to compare directly when Brian was around more. Uncomfortable and all, Brian had given her a faint hope back then that someone would care enough to help her. Then he'd disappeared.

“Thanks for meeting me,” she said, with a tight lipped smile. His head was a bit moist, so she rubbed it off on her pants. “Debbie and I really appreciate you helping us with this.”

“I should have done so years ago,” he said. “I'm really sorry that I didn't back then when I was around. Harry just.” He unfolded his napkin, silver clinking together and the cloth unrolled. “He scared the shit out of me to be honest.”

Bea knew all about how scary Harry had been. If she had been bigger, and stronger she couldn't imagine being half as intimidated. So many times she'd wished that she'd just had the strength to defend herself, the literal physical strength. Brian could have at least provided a challenge, she thought.

“What happened?” she asked. Their waiter brought them over glasses and filled them with water. She took a large drink from it, waiting for his answer.

“I finally confronted him. Told him it wasn't okay, what he was doing to you,” he said, hands gesturing. “He went fucking crazy.” One of the few couples near them turned to look and he cleared his throat. “I'm embarrassed to admit it, but he beat the shit out of me,” he said, with a bitter laugh. “Threatened to come after me and my family if I said a word to anyone, and that was that.”

“I understand,” Bea said. That was how people like Harry won. Fear. She knew all about wanting to protect someone from Harry's wrath, doing what you had to do to keep them safe, and not because of Debbie. “Hopefully we can make sure he doesn't hurt us or anyone else we care about ever again.”

Brian tapped his water glass with hers, then picked up his menu off the table. “Order anything you want,” he said. “This conversation will be easier to get through with a bit of good food, I'm sure. Do you still make that fantastic pink sauce? I've tried and tried...”

As the man went on and on, Bea looked at him curiously. She'd honestly only planned to get a small salad and make the conversation as short and direct as possible. It was practically over if you asked her. He'd helped her in the kitchen that one time, so she knew he enjoyed cooking, but that was all irrelevant to her then and especially with all that had happened. Brain was helping them, however, so she picked up the menu and looked it over, responding pleasantly and often enough.

They talked about him changing companies, what their children had been up to, even laughed a bit at some of the faces Harry used to make when he was mad. With the man being in jail for at least a few years, they hoped, it was easy to laugh at him. Bea hadn't had anyone to really talk to about it other than Debbie, no one that really knew Harry anyways. The women at the shop had questions, and tried to show an interest in her life but she didn't have much of an interest in talking about that part of it. Still, it felt good to do so. Brian began to apologize over and over for not doing something sooner, and was going fine until Brian reached and touched her hand across the table. She pulled it back slowly, awkwardly shifting her eyes.

“Wine?” he asked, with an awkward cough.

“No,” she said simply.

That had been part of her plan when she was still trying to figure out a way for her and Allie to be together. She'd never been much of a drinker anyways, and Harry's being an alcoholic always irked her, so she'd figured it would be easy to do right by Allie and help ease the process of being sober. Of course, none of her plans had actually worked out. Go figure. Things were still much better, however, and that's all that she had wanted for so long.

After they ordered, Brian sat back in his chair. “I went to see him, after I heard what had happened.”

Harry had made bail but gotten arrested again for showing up in the parking lot at Bea's shop one night. It wasn't surprising to her that he had come to threaten her once he'd gotten out, she'd expected it. What he didn't expect was for her to still stand her ground and to have him thrown back in jail for violating the restraining order she'd gotten into place upon his release, as they waited for a court date to be set.

“He accused me of trying to steal you away back then, of caring too much.”

Bea felt like he'd cared very little, and this conversation was taking a turn she hadn't anticipated when he said he wanted to meet her there.

“Said it'd be easier now that you'd settle for anyone and everyone. The last being a, to put it way nicer than he did, a street worker with a drug problem.”

She couldn't believe it.

“How's your wife?” Bea asked, pointedly.

“We're divorced,” Brian answered quickly. “Jenny and I have had joint custody of the children for years now, it was for the best.” He toyed with his napkin again, flipping it's corners. “It's none of my business, and I know Harry's a liar anyways. You were always so – and Debbie was your world, which meant that you'd never.....This is not a good time for this, is it?”

For what? Bea wanted to ask, her confused expression making the man uncomfortable. When she realized what the man was getting at and what he expected, she literally laughed. She thought about the people who'd suggested she'd just been desperate to connect when that whole thing with Allie happened, including a therapist that she immediately stopped seeing. Was this what they meant? Any small ounce of compassion and small bit of effort to help and she'd be swooning?

“It really isn't,” she said. “And honestly, I just need you as a witness not anything else. Not a friend, or whatever it is you'd thought would come out of telling me to meet you here. Please,” she said, getting up from the table. “Just show up for the court date and finally be helpful for once.”

Having so much time before she had to pick up Debbie, Bea tried to go back to the shop to get some work done, but all the women kept bugging her about taking an actual day off then. Free of any other obligations than Debbie, she could actually sit and enjoy the day. That was something she was still getting used to. She decided to stop at a park, and got about half way through sketching a cute elderly couple before they slowly got up and struggled away together. Never could that have been her and Harry. He would have been bitching about how slow she was going, and something stupid like the sun being too bright one his age really started to get to him. She still couldn't believe how her lunch with Brian had turned out. The very idea of her even caring a single bit about another man seemed laughable, and not because of the sex as a whole, but because she couldn't see her falling for anyone really. Not again. Not for a long time.

It was hard to keep her mind from imagining what it could be like if Allie were with her. Would she have gone to the lunch, or would Bea have called her right after and laughed hysterically at the man's idiocy. Maybe Allie would have met her at the park, sat down close beside her and watched Bea's pencil move, complimenting her skills while making fun of her ever sappy subject matters. They were quite gross in that department, she'd agree. Not what one would probably expect to find in the sketch book of someone going through a divorce after years of a loveless marriage. If they spent enough time with her though, according to her daughter, they'd see that Bea got this look on her face every once in a while. A fond, but sad smile would spread across her face like she was a million light years away, somewhere beautiful and yet painful to revisit.

The sketch from that morning, of Allie, it had to be the last one. She had to stop thinking she'd see the blonde walk through the shop doors, or that she'd get any phone call, especially since she'd had to change her number thanks to Harry. That had been hard to do when she'd still been holding onto so much hope. Her plan may have fallen apart, but what had happened had left even more doors open. Or so she'd thought. With Jo gone, there was no way to ask if Derek knew anything, not that she would have found it easy to talk to the woman without wanting to hurt her.

She pulled her phone out of her bag, and checked the time. Debbie would be calling her any moment to tell her she was ready, so she started to pack up. Her phone went off just as she stowed her favorite pencil away, it was getting pretty short.

“About to head your way now,” she said, struggling to hold the phone with her shoulder and ear. “Stopped by the park for a bit and there was this lovely--”

“That's great, Mum,” Debbie interrupted. “I'm sure the sketch turned out wonderful.”

“Way to prove I'm predictable,” Bea mumbled.

There was the sound of another voice in the background for a split second before Debbie kept on. “Uh, so, I kind of found a ride home. If that's alright.”

They'd come to an agreement that any time Debbie spent with friends or classmates had to be discussed way beforehand. With all the lies that the teen had been telling about what she was doing, and where all those months before, they'd both thought it was best that she purely focus on getting caught up in school. Of course she still saw friends, but most of the studying and hanging out happened at their new place to help ease Bea back into trusting her, and Debbie was extremely agreeable with the terms of her 'punishment'. Which was why a call like the one she was getting wasn't exactly well received.

“Kind of is a bit vague, Debbie,” she said, starting to walk back to her car. “Who are you with?”

More voices, and this time Bea could tell that Debbie was covering the phone to have a quick conversation with whomever she was with. “No one, really. Just someone who needs some help with an assignment.”

Bea frowned, picking up her speed. “This is sounding a lot like a lie.” As if her day hadn't been weird enough with Brian hitting on her during a lunch they were meant to just discuss her abusive, hopefully soon to be ex-husband. Now Debbie going against their agreement. “You know the rules, Debbie. I have to meet your friends, and know the address of where they stay, if their parents are going to be home, all of that,” she said, as she unlocked her door and got in. “I'm coming to get you.”

“No,” Debbie said loud enough that Bea had to take the phone away from her ear. “I'll meet you at home.”

“Debbie,” Bea said, her tone giving a warning. “I'll come get you.”

“If you go up to the school I will not be there,” Debbie said, matter of factually. “Just meet me at the house.” She must have moved the phone away from her mouth because her last words were quiet, but Bea could hear Debbie complaining about something being ridiculous before hanging up.

“Hello?” Bea said, her phone chirping to let her know the call ended. “Son of a, I'm going to ground her for life,” she said to herself, navigating home. There was a bit of traffic to her annoyance but she got home pretty quickly, dialing Debbie's number repeatedly as she pulled into the driveway. No answer. Bea parked her car in the drive-way instead of the garage. She walked up the small front steps, phone still pressed between her shoulder and ear. “You better be inside,” she said, leaving a voicemail as she put her key into the front door.

Just whens she moved to step inside, she heard a car pull up behind her and turned angrily towards it. Debbie was getting out, talking very quickly to the person driving the car.

“Debbie,” Bea called. “Come inside, right now,” she said. “Tell whoever that is today isn't--”

“Get out of the car,” she heard Debbie say, sounding just as frustrated as she did, which did not make Bea any less angry.

“What the hell is going on?” Bea asked.

The teen just walked up to her, driver getting out with a gray hoodie hiding their face. “Calm down, already. I'm not screwing things up again. I'm making it right, actually.”

Bea was about to question the girl but her eyes went back to the person who was driving the car. Strands of blonde hair stuck out from behind the hood, and seeing them made all of what Bea was about to say vanish from her mind. She looked back to Debbie with a confused look, and the teen was smiling at her, shaking her head before she walked inside.

“Where are you going?” Bea asked, her voice coming out a little panicked.

“I don't need to be here for this,” Debbie said, walking inside and closing the door behind her.

Bea stared at it for a few seconds before she turned around. She felt lightheaded, and like maybe she had actually fallen asleep on that bench and staring at that old couple had made her dreams cruelly turn in this direction. Allie pulled the hood of her hoodie back, looking up at Bea like she had so many times at the shop.

“Hey, Bea,” Allie said, putting her hands into her pocket. Her hair was a bit longer, and less blonde than the last time they'd seen each other, but there were no bags under her eyes or bruises or cuts on lip. The blue eyes that Bea had been dreaming of were clear and focused. “Sorry to just show up like this. I told Debbie that you wouldn't really want to, you know, see me.”

“Of course I'd want to see you,” Bea said, walking down the steps. She struggled to stop herself from reaching out, mind still unsure of whether the blonde could actually be there. Things had gone they way they'd gone. Passing weeks had taught her to love the silence and solitude she had, and to understand that that was better than she could have imagined years before. “You look good.”

“Sober, you mean,” Allie said, with a smile.

It wasn't quite the cocky smirk, but Bea could see it lurking underneath. “That too,” Bea said. One of her neighbors pulled into their driveway, waving at Bea as they got their family out of the car. “Come in,” Bea said, gesturing for Allie to follow her. She was tried to calm herself as she led Allie into the kitchen. “Want anything to drink? We have water, and some sort of sugary punch crap that Debbie likes.”

“That sounds perfect,” Allie said. “Mind if I sit?” she asked, already pulling out a chair.

“Please,” Bea said. Every time she came home she removed her sketchbook, pencils, and a few other items out of her bag before hanging it up on rack near the kitchen entrance. She went ahead and went through that routine, hoping it would help ease the tension she felt. The instant she made the mistake of glancing over at Allie she felt her cheeks flush, catching the blonde watching her. Not that she was trying to hide it. “One moment.”

“Take your time,” the blonde said. “This is a nice place.”

She hung up her bag and went over to the cabinet with the glasses in it. “We were lucky. One of my coworkers knew someone who needed to move suddenly, and it so happened, so did I.” Her hands were shaking, she realized as she got the pitcher punch out of the refrigerator. “They even left most of their furniture. It's a rental, but that's better than I've ever gotten for myself.”

“I hear you on that. Just got a place myself. It's shitty as hell compared to this place, but you gotta start somewhere.”

Bea picked up both of the glasses. “That's what they say.” She turned around and nearly dropped them both. Allie was looking at her sketchbook, slowly turning one of the pages. Then another. Bea tried not to think of the time Harry had found something she'd drawn, but Debbie was the only other person she'd ever let see her work, and he'd always been so hurtful. Allie could think she was just some obsessive weirdo.

“Debbie told me that you've been drawing a lot,” Allie said, continuing to turn through the pages. Bea walked up and could see it was one of her earlier ones of Debbie, back when she'd just gotten back into the habit. But if she kept turning the pages...

She heard the blonde gasp, her fingers freezing on the corner of the page. Bea set down the glass of red punch beside Allie and continued to stand over the blonde, unable to see her face. Bea was afraid to see her reaction, whether that gasp was one of shock and awe, or humiliation. Allie's hand moved from the corner of the page, digits tracing along the edges of the sketch. The curve of her cheeks and chin. Bea had worked hard to get it right, but an artist always felt so critical of themselves. Nothing was every good enough. She felt that especially in then, with Allie there in the flesh.

Bea's hand hovered above Allie's shoulder, blonde strands tickling the tips of her fingers. That softness that she'd craved to run them through called out to her, but she felt so unsure. She started to pull back when Allie turned the pages a few more times, revealing that most of the sketches were actually of her. Bea didn't expect to hear sounds of the blonde getting chocked up, but it was enough to shock some sense into her and let her hand fall to Allie's hair, and neck.

The blonde pressed herself into Bea's touch, turning her head. “Fuck, I'm sorry,” she said, a tear drop dampening the page she was looking at. Her attempts to rub it away only made it worse, of course, which Bea laughed at.

“It's alright, it'll dry,” Bea said, getting her to stop. Allie turned to her with eyes filled with watery, question filled eyes, and suddenly her arms were wrapped around Bea's waist. Bea put the other glass down and put her arms around Allie's head, placing her cheek on top of it.

“Not just for that,” the blonde said. “I thought after everything had calmed down there'd be no way you'd want me around.”

“Allie.” Bea put her hands on either side of Allie's head, making the blonde look up at her. “You've been the one thing missing.” She pushed some of the hair out of Allie's face, and gave into her need to kiss the other woman. Every morning, and night that's all she had thought lying in bed by herself. It would all be so perfect, everything, if the blonde had been by her side. Divorce drama and all, nothing could have taken away from all the good in her life because she finally knew that she was ready to be free of her dark, lonely past. Yet there she'd been, alone and yearning each time she lie in bed.

The blonde stood up, hands moving to Bea's back bringing them closer together. Bea's hands stayed where they were, holding Allie's lips to hers and letting herself drown in them. This time she wouldn't let go.

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Bea could hear the shower already running when she walked into their bedroom. She'd been a few minutes late getting back from stopping at the shop one last time on her day off, an excuse her daughter wouldn't appreciate if she and Allie were late. The bathroom door was unlocked. She opened the door slightly, and listened to the sound of the water hitting Allie's skin, letting her mind create an image of it cascading down her body. Being squeezed from her long blonde hair.

She walked all the way into the bathroom, closing the door behind her to keep the heat of the steam within. Allie was humming a song she didn't recognize, nothing new. Bea almost laughed when the hum turned into a some sort of beat boxing, but she held it in, pulling her shirt over head as she crept closer to the shower. She removed the rest of her clothes and stood there for a moment longer. Just the idea o f Allie's naked form on the other side of the curtain caused her to throb with desire, but the image in her mind could never prepare her for the sight of her curved back as she stepped in.

Many months had passed since the blonde had come back into her life. They'd barely been apart from one another, and after so many nights of Allie waking up at Bea's they'd agreed it was better for the blonde to move in. Debbie had agreed, pointing out that their initial attempt to hide that they were sleeping together again was an embarrassment and not necessary, or believable anyways.

“Are we really going to do this again?” Allie asked. She glanced back over her shoulder with a soapy towel in hand, and a knowing grin on his face.

Bea's eyes traveled to the Allie's firm, round butt, and shapely thighs. She walked forward and placed her hands on Allie's shoulder blades. “Do what?” One of her hands moved to grip Allie's hip while the other swept some of Allie's hair aside. Her mouth hung open in anticipation of her lips meeting Allie's skin.

“Be late and you pretend it's me that can't keep my hands to myself,” Allie answered, sounding amused. She finished squeezing out the towel in her hands and turned around.

Bea's hands hung in her air. Her bottom lip was pulled in between her lips, eyes trained on Allie's breasts. “Uh, usually it is you, so'” she said, always amazed that such a beautiful body was hers to touch.

When her eyes finally met Allie's, the blonde laughed. “That's a yes, then.”

“Yes,” Bea said, getting rid of the small amount of space between them. Their kisses rarely started off delicate and slow anymore, and Bea didn't hesitate in running her hands up Allie's sides to take the blonde's breasts into her hands. She'd never thought she'd be so mesmerized by another human being, enjoy palming and massaging a woman's breast. For most of her life she hadn't ever done that to her own.

Allie moaned against Bea's lips, pushing her chest against Bea's hands as they deepened their kiss. The blonde reached back and turned the water off just when Bea pulled a hand away from Allie's chest to move the shower curtain back. Neither one of them even pretended to try and dry off well, one of them even using their limited time as an excuse as they stumbled to the bed. Bea turned them so it was the back of Allie's knees against the bed, trailing kisses down the blonde's neck, while teasing and pulling on the younger woman's nipples. Allie's hands were moved from Bea's ass to her hair, and shoulders, her breathing ragged.

Months before Bea's hands would have been unsure, and a bit aimless, but she'd learned just what to do to drive Allie up the walls. Sometimes literally. It was easy for her now. Understanding the desires she felt, and giving into them. She placed her hands on Allie's hips, getting her to sit on the bed and guiding her a little further up onto it. Bea looked down at the blonde, reveling in the way her grin was broken by excited pants. Never had she thought anyone would react to her in such a way, and or that she'd want them to. But seeing Allie's lidded dark eyes and her glorious body beneath her begging to be touched was more exhilarating than anything Bea had ever experienced. Well, almost.

Bea grinned, running her hands along Allie's thighs. She listened to the way the blonde's breathing changed any time her hands seemed to be heading for towards the apex, but never quite getting there.

“We don't have time for all this, Bea,” Allie said, propping herself up on her elbows. Bea just laughed it off because she knew Allie wasn't really all that concerned with the time. When Bea started to dip down unto her knees she proved it. “I take that back,” Allie said, slowly licking her lips. “We have all of the time.”

Bea laughed. They didn't have all of the time. “We won't need it,” she said.

This wouldn't be like the first time Bea had done this, and she'd stared for so long that Allie had tried to convince her she didn't have to do it just then. Bea wouldn't stop a lot to ask stupid questions like, is that okay, instead of trusting the sounds that Allie made and her twitchy movements as good indication. She kissed the inside of the blonde's thighs, sucking on the skin there as one of her hands moved to Allie's hip, and the other one moved back to one of her stiff, pink nipples.

When Bea began to trail her tongue towards her glistening core, Allie reached down and pushed some of Bea's hair back so she could watch it begin. She wasn't kidding about having a thing for watching, as it turned out. Whether it was moments like the the one they were currently having, or a bit of solo play, which Bea had grown much more comfortable with after the first time she watched Allie get herself off. She looked up at the blonde, lips pulling back into a smirk and then finally placed her mouth where Allie wanted it. Bea dipped her tongue between moist lips, the taste of Allie's wetness making her hum in delight. The hand she'd placed on Allie's hip moved to grip the blonde's ass, as she began to lick and suck, until Allie fell back moaning and writhing.

Bea knew that when she looked up the curved expanse of Allie's stomach she'd see the blonde massaging her other breast, mouth hanging open and head thrashing. And she expected Allie to then place that hand on hers, aiding Bea in massaging it before pulling Bea's hand up to her mouth and sucking two fingers into her it. That would never cease to be sexy, Bea was sure. She didn't have to guess what the blonde wanted and before long Allie's fingers were digging into her scalp as Bea's fingers curved inside of the blonde, her lips sucking as her tongue tapped and swirled around the other woman's swollen bud. Allie's movements grew erratic, her back arching off the bed. Bea could hear Allie's breath get caught in her chest, and feel the walls tightening around her fingers rapidly. Then the short jerking of her hips stopped, and she just pushed herself against Bea again and again, moans increasing and growing higher in pitch before she finally came apart. Bea moved her hand back to Allie's hip then, holding her down as she ran her tongue along Allie's sensitive core until Allie was pulling her up into a slow, wet kiss.

The blonde sat up, making Bea rise to keep their mouths connected. She was still twitching and panting beneath Bea's touch, but it didn't stop her from pulling Bea down to straddle her lap. Her hands gripped and squeezed Bea's thighs, as she pushed her tongue further into Bea's mouth, taking control of the kiss. Bea's chest ached for oxygen by the time that Allie pulled away, immediately moving to Bea's neck. Bea was quickly getting lost in the sensations of the other woman kissing her, and the hands running up and down her thighs, then one moved up to kneed her breasts firmly. The lips on her neck started to move lower, and Allie placed a hand on Bea's back so the older woman could lean back, and took one of Bea's nipples into her mouth, her teeth and tongue clouding Bea's mind even further. Bea couldn't resist rolling her hips against Allie after a small bite, followed by a soothing tongue. The blonde moaned when Bea's heat slid across her and moved her mouth back to Bea's, their kiss fast and desperate. Suddenly there was a hand between her legs, fingers sliding against her and then into her.

Bea wrapped an arm around Allie's neck, the other gripping the blonde's shoulder as her thighs began to burn, knees pressing into the mattress. She pulled back from their kiss, chest heaving. Allie grinned up at her and then looked down in between them, nodding for Bea to do the same. Bea was more focused on the pulsing warmth spreading through her body instead, and the fact that someone so beautiful wanted to bring her to such a point of ecstasy. Just when she thought she wouldn't be able to push through the burn of her thighs Allie's arm pulled her close and she turned them over, sliding them both higher on the bed. Bea moaned the blonde's name as she shallow strokes then grew longer, and deeper, then harder until she was coming, body shaking with pleasure.

When she opened her eyes Allie was still grinning at her, watching her as she tried to catch her breath and still her twitching form. They both laughed at their eagerness leading them to where they were, tangled up in one another for the billionth time.

“I love you,” Bea said, looking up into those blue eyes.

Allie's grin turned into a genuine smile. She placed a finger under Bea's chin, and kissed her. “I love you too,” she whispered. “And...Your phone has been going off for at least five minutes now,” Allie said, the sounds of it vibrating no longer having to compete to be heard.

“Shit.” Bea fought against the pooling relaxation she felt edging through her. She gave Allie a chaste kiss and sat up. “So, about that shower.”

They showered and got dressed quickly, Bea wearing a form fitting black pants suit while Allie went with a more casual skirt and top. If Bea had had anything more casual but still dressy she would have gone that route, but there was no time to go shopping again, and jeans were out of the question. By the time that they made it they weren't late exactly, they just had to park super far away which is what actually put them at risk of being late. That was Bea's story and she was sticking to it. Her daughter was graduating that day, and she couldn't have been more proud, relieved, and excited about what future lay ahead.

Over the past months they had all managed to get into a nice routine with one another. Allie had gotten a job at the market near the shop, which had eventually called Bea about her application, but it was at the height of trying to get divorced from Harry. She and Allie went there so often, however, that they offered Allie a job when hiring season rolled back around. That made it easier for them when the blonde moved in and Debbie needed to use one of the cars to go to class when Bea had to get to the shop super early. That had only happened after Allie convinced Bea it was a good idea for the teen to start taking herself, with her moving out into the world on her own soon. A few weeks after that Allie and Bea celebrated the one year anniversary of Allie's sobriety with an ice-cream outing, and dinner, in that order, followed by screwing on multiple surfaces in the house. They'd done the same when Bea's divorce went through. With Debbie moving out, Bea imagined those kind of celebrations happening more often than they already did.

She and Allie made it past the rows of parents and siblings, a few of them giving disapproving looks as they made their way through hand and hand, Allie so close you'd think she was afraid of being separated but her cheeky smile said otherwise. So did the middle finger she held up when one couple in particular looked rather disgusted. Bea laughed while pulling Allie along and telling her to leave it. Not a single one of the non-pleasant stares made a difference to her, and the supportive ones didn't matter much either at the moment.

“They're starting,” Bea said, getting them to their seats. She pulled one of Allie's hands into her lap, holding it affectionately. Memories of the three of them laughing and talking over dinner, going out to the movies as a family, or Allie and Debbie showing up at the shop to get her to come home filled her mind. Soon the teen wouldn't be there, and Bea still wasn't sure how she felt about that.

By the time the ceremony was done she'd gone through most of the tissues that Allie knew to bring just in case she started crying. They both knew she would but she liked that Allie at least pretended like she hadn't been a blubbering fool for the past week when talking about Debbie's graduating. They searched through the swarm of freshly graduated teens, and squealed in delight when Debbie spotted them and raised her diploma for them to see. She handed it to her mum and then stood on her tip-toes to wrap her arms around the both of them.

“You were late,” Debbie said, pulling back with a smile on her face.

“We weren't,” Bea defended.

Allie laughed, linking her arm with Bea's and staring down at the diploma with her. “Almost though,” she admitted. Bea swatted at her and she pretended to be offended.

Debbie rolled her eyes. “Come on you two,” she said. “Please tell me you at least got a decent parking spot.”

The two women looked at each other, Bea blushing and Allie smiling as she spoke. “Well, we were almost late so...”

“You two are gross. I cannot believe that you were almost late to my graduation.” She didn't sound remotely upset, which Bea was actually really happy about because she did feel a little bit bad about having to park so far away, and almost missing the opening, albeit boring, speech.

“Oh hey, this is what you wanted when you got us back together,” Allie said, poking the girl in the shoulder. “All the grossness is included, you're old enough to understand that.”

Debbie groaned. “What I wanted was to have my mom stop mooning over sketches, and getting that dreamy look in her eyes whenever she thought of you.”

Bea looked between the two of them, smiling at their banter. She and Debbie had gone through so much together, the years with Harry putting a dark shadow over so a lot of it. But the past year had been so amazing. Debbie had gotten caught up in school and turned her act around, ditching the boy she'd grown attached to forever, to Bea's absolute relief. Then there was the whole tracking Allie down to reunite the two of them. She could remember coming home and hearing Debbie and Allie laughing at the kitchen table about shows they were both into, how idiotic teenagers can be, and music videos that Bea knew nothing about. Whenever herself and Debbie got into any kind of weird place, Allie was there to help them through, and Bea could see how much that meant to Debbie. She felt honored to have raised such a wonderful and caring daughter in such harsh situations, and she also felt privileged to have someone like Allie in their life.

“What I didn't want,” Debbie began, continuing her faux argument. “Was to be traumatized by the two of you getting it on like a bunch of teenagers all the time.”

Allie looked to her, head practically on Bea's shoulder as they walked. “See,” she said, with a mischievous grin. “You are loud.”

Bea's eyes widened. “Stop.”