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Dinner happened at least once a week. Usually at Joan’s, but sometimes at Vera’s. Joan always cooked, but sometimes she would let Vera do the dishes. She tried her best not to hover over Vera when she completed this task, though when she did, Vera merely chuckled and leaned up on the tips of her toes to plant an affectionate kiss against Joan’s cheek.


Joan’s need for control asserted itself as intrusively as a third person in their relationship but Vera understood now that she needn't be jealous of it.


Joan never stayed the night, but had allowed Vera to stay over a handful of times. During those nights, Vera had worn one of Joan’s sweatshirts and had slept with her back to Joan, conceding to the few inches that her bedmate insist remain between them. During those subsequent mornings, Joan would be awake and cooking a hearty breakfast for them before Vera’s alarm had even gone off. She’d greet Vera in the kitchen with a gentle peck on the lips and a look so tender that it made Vera fall in love with her all over again.


There were no further discussions of the feelings between them. No labels that they afixiated to themselves or to what they shared. There was no need for any of that. Over time, Vera found herself becoming more and more fluent in the silent language that Joan spoke to her. A kiss on the forehead or on the top of Vera’s head meant that she was adored. A gentle stroke of Joan’s thumb against Vera’s wrist meant that Joan’s heart was alight with worry for her. A hand at the small of her back meant that Joan wanted her, though she hadn’t yet acted on this want. A kiss on the lips meant that Joan had missed her terribly. An arm around her waist meant that Joan needed to be close to her.


And dinner, well, Vera had finally worked out what that meant and reveled in it every night that she sat down to a meal that Joan had painstakingly prepared for her.


Tonight they relaxed out on Vera’s balcony. Her fourth floor apartment provided them with a beautiful view of the city beneath them. Vera smiled and let out a content purr as Joan’s arm around her tightened, bringing Vera into the crook of her neck and shoulder. Joan’s lips deposited soft kisses along Vera’s forehead and Vera thought that she might weep at the beauty of this moment.


“Thank you for dinner,” Vera giggled, her nose crinkled adorably against the silken softness of Joan’s sturdy neck.


Joan said nothing, but smiled contently into Vera’s messy curls. Her hand travelled from its spot on Vera’s shoulders down her back to slip under Vera’s cotton shirt and gently caress the muscular back of the petite woman in her arms.


Vera shivered at the contact and nuzzled Joan’s neck. Not since their first two fumbling attempts at a relationship had Joan’s hands wandered underneath the barrier of clothing.


In front of them, the last sunset of the summer bled colours of red, orange, yellow, and pink across the sky as Joan’s fingers traced delicate patterns into the bronzed skin of Vera’s back. Vera squirmed delightfully at the sensation and her arm, which had been wrapped around Joan’s waist, held on tighter. She could discern a change in the pattern that Joan was drawing into her skin, her breath hitched as she felt the unmistakable loop of an elegant ‘l’ against the dimples of her lower back. At the start of the fourth letter, Vera tilted her head up and crushed her lips against the older woman’s, heart soaring.


Pulling back slightly, Joan regarded the woman in her arms carefully. “Will you ask me?” she requested. Her fingers continued in their delicate scroll; with the practised ease of over 50 years experience, they painted another four letter word onto the body of her lover.


Vera smiled beautifully. “Stay?” she asked obediently.


They both knew the answer to her question.


A week after Vera had purchased her new furniture, she’d found herself back at the store exchanging her double sized mattress and bed frame for a king. Now, months later, as Joan gracefully lowered herself and Vera down onto it, she knew that it had been worth the scowls from the store manager and the vast price difference.


Joan kissed her deeply, all the while her clever fingers never ceased their intricate dance across her skin, merely, they adapted to new rhythms.


With a gentleness that belied their first time, and a certainty that belied their second attempt, Joan removed the soft cotton and worn denim from Vera’s body before allowing Vera to do the same for her.


Sweaty hands glided over dewy skin, parting damp thighs and lovingly combing messy hair out of smiling faces. Heat suffused their bodies and adoring hearts as a matching flush spread out across naked flesh. Lips met over and over again, pouring fervored tenderness into one another as hearts beat wildly to a beauteous composition that was as old as time. Chants of love danced in the finite space between them in the form of soft gasps and desperate moans; one by one, each woman bent her head to commit her devotion to her lover at the temple of her sex.


It was frenzied euphoria and yet time seemed to halt as Vera, then Joan found blissful completion at the tender caresses of one another.


After, they lay together in a cocoon of their own joyful making. Joan pulled Vera close, silently removing now, and from this moment forward, the need for space between them.


Vera’s hand ran through her lover’s silver-streaked hair, loving the difference in texture between the varying strands. She wore a dreamy smile which did not cease even as she nudged her face forward every few moments to kiss the reddened lips of her lover. It didn’t take long however for sleep to claim her, and she sighed contently as she felt Joan draw the blankets around their cooling, sated flesh.


As Vera succumbed to sleep against her breast, Joan welcomed the tumultuous tide of her love for this woman as it crested against her heart. Her hand played with the damp hair which curled around Vera’s angelic face and she felt her body adjust to the measured, deep breathing of her lover. Not long after, Joan followed Vera, happily, to wherever the younger woman’s unconscious imagination had taken her, knowing that wherever it was, she was safe by Vera’s side.


The sun had set long ago, but her lover, the moon hung high in the sky watching over as two tender souls dared to heal themselves. Joan had made the choice to stay with Vera until sunrise, and for that, she would return to greet them both with the gentle kiss of morning and earnest possibilities.