Love Has No Pride
By: S. Lee
Disclaimers: As with the first story, these characters and this story are original
Sex/Language: There isn't much sex, but there is language and some angst.
Author's Note: This story picks up thirteen years after the first story, "Three Days." While you could read this one alone, it would help if you read the first story. Kat has become a mega-superstar and the couple have another daughter, Scout. The third part of the Kat and Beth series, "That Friend of Mine" will be out soon.
Musical Notes: "Always on My Mind," Willie Nelson; "If I Needed You," Townes Van Zandt; "Last in Love," J.D. Souther and Glenn Frey; "Love Like This," Pat Bunch, Pam Kennedy, and Mary Ann Rose; "Take You With Me," Susan Gibson; "Whenever You Come Around," Vince Gill; "Lover Please," Melissa Etheridge.
Acknowledgements: My beta-readers: Julie, thank you for your help and your dear friendship. Both are invaluable to me. Patricia, you make such a difference in my writing and you make me work much harder. Thank you for that. Maria "W", I am so happy to have you as a new friend and beta-reader. May this be the start of a long friendship and working relationship. The time and effort y'all put in to help me create the best story I can, humbles me. I thank the three of you from the bottom of my heart.
Feedback: Your feedback is very welcome and appreciated. You can contact me at email@example.com
Chapter 1- Always on My Mind
Drunk as usual, Kat Green was in her luxurious hotel suite with two sexy twenty-something blondes. She had played for another sell-out crowd in Atlanta. She had a wall full of gold and platinum records, a mantle full of awards, more money and success than she ever dreamed of. She had a wife and two daughters at home in Nashville. To the public, she and Beth were the ultimate example of a perfect lesbian couple. The reality was quite different. Here she was, drinking down a bottle of Jim Beam with two topless women in her bed. This had become her post-concert ritual. The two young women and the inebriated singer were involved in a very heated sexual encounter when there was a knock at the door. She got up from the bed and walked toward the door.
She turned to the women she was with. "Hold that thought ladies. I think that's the champagne I ordered and then we can really get down to business."
She stumbled to the door, opened it, but didn't find room service on the other side. Instead, it was her partner of twenty-three years, Beth. Kat didn't know what else to say but, "Shit."
Beth walked in the door. She had known about her lover's affairs for a long time. She was furious, but kept her emotions in check in order to maintain her dignity. "I can tell you weren't expecting me." She nodded in the direction of the half naked girls. "Do you think you can take a break so we can speak privately?"
Kat looked at the younger women. "Okay girls, party's over."
The women got their clothes and left. Kat faced her wife. "Sweetheart, I know this looks bad. They were here when I got in. They paid the hotel employees off. I tried to get them to leave but........"
Beth held up her hand. "Don't. I know exactly what you were doing. I've known for a long time." She looked at the liquor bottles and shook her head in disgust. "Just who the hell are you? I don't know you anymore."
Kat walked over to her wife and put her arms around her waist, trying to be charming. "Oh baby. I'm the woman you love." She tried to kiss Beth's neck.
The angry woman pushed the singer away. "Leave me alone! Don't touch me!"
Kat shook her head. "Yeah, that sounds familiar. You say that a lot you know."
"Look at yourself in the mirror sometime or maybe smell your breath and you'll know why. I can't do this anymore."
Kat was confused. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm tired of the cheating while you're on the road. I'm tired of your drinking. You've become an alcoholic. I've begged and pleaded with you to get help. You're never home. Presley and Scout never see you. I can't take it anymore. I'm leaving you and going home to Austin."
"I'm leaving and I'm taking the girls with me."
"Whoa, wait a minute. You can't take my daughters away from me."
"What the hell do you care? You're never around. You know nothing about them. And until you clean up your act and stop drinking, you won't see them without supervision. I won't let you keep hurting them or me anymore." With that, she began to walk away. Kat grabbed her arm roughly.
The singer snarled, "You don't walk out on me. Nobody walks out on Kat Green. I'm not letting you go. You're mine and you always will be."
"Get your hands off me!" Beth jerked her arm free. "If you ever lay a hand on me, you will never see me nor your daughters again ."
Kat took a step back. "Fuck you! Fine. Go. See if I care. But you aren't taking my daughters away!"
Beth walked out the door. Tears fell down her cheeks as she made her way down the hallway. As much as she didn't want to feel anything anymore, seeing her lover like that caused her heart to break into pieces.
Kat picked up the bottle of Jim Beam from the desk and threw it against the wall, shattering it into pieces. The singer lifted a chair and threw it into the television. She grabbed an empty bottle of beer and smashed it against the door. She called in her bodyguards who were supposed to be watching out for her.
Kat raged at the team of six, "Who the fuck let my wife in here? Why didn't anyone warn me she was here? You're all fired! I never want to see your lazy, sorry ass faces again!"
She opened the door and the burly men walked out. Kat slammed the door behind them. She began to cry angry tears and opened another bottle of Jim Beam, slid down the wall, and began drinking until she passed out.
Suffering from a crushing headache, the singer woke the next morning to pounding on the door. She was still sitting on the floor with an empty bottle in her hand. She opened the door and her road manager walked in.
"My God, Kat! What the hell happened in here? You smell like a distillery."
Holding her head, the singer looked at her manager. "Hello to you too sunshine. Beth came here last night. She said she's leaving me."
He nodded. "Yeah, I know. Your security team stopped by my room last night. I had to smooth things over with them. Beth also called me this morning. But damn, did you have to do all this? We're going to have to pay for your temper tantrum."
"Just do what you do. That's what I pay you for. I'm going to go take a shower."
Kat stepped into the hot water. It began to hit her; Beth was leaving. She was leaving and taking the girls. The singer thought about Presley with her dark hair, rebellious spirit, and musical abilities. Thanks to a donation from Kat's look-alike cousin, the thirteen-year old was the spitting image of the singer. She thought about her younger daughter who was named after a character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout was only nine years old. She was blonde, a ballet dancer, loved books and loved to write.
Kat became overwhelmed with emotion as the tears of pain began to fall. Images of Beth throughout the years flashed through her brain, causing her heart to hurt so badly, that the singer held her chest. The pain nearly choked her. She stepped out of the shower and reached for instant relief; a vodka and orange juice.
Without speaking to anyone, she stepped into her private bus and waited to leave Atlanta. Her road manager entered and sat beside her.
"The hotel will send me a bill when the damage has been assessed. You can't keep doing this."
"She's leaving me, John. She doesn't love me anymore." She began sobbing and he put his arm around her. "How can she give up on us like that? I feel like my heart is being ripped out. I guess I deserve it. There were two women in my room last night when she came in."
Her old friend shook his head. "Damn, Kat."
"She says I drink too much. She called me a fucking alcoholic."
"Could she be right?"
Kat sat up. "Screw you. Whose side are you on? Just remember who pays your damn salary."
He raised his hands defensively. "Hey, calm down. I'm just trying to look out for you."
"Well, I don't need any fucking lessons on drinking from you, thank you very much. So where are we playing tonight?"
She grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and walked to the bedroom in the back, shut the door, and went back to sleep.
Beth stepped off the plane in Austin and into the arms of Amy, her best friend since college.
"Hey there, pal."
The distraught woman hid her face in Amy's shoulder. "Get me out of here please."
"You got it. We'll go back to my place before you go to your parents' to see the girls."
Nodding, she whispered, "Thank you."
Beth stared out the car window at the familiar surroundings of her hometown as they drove to Amy's house. Once inside, the two women sat down as the old friend put her arm around the blonde.
"So, tell me what happened. I assume you told her that you've left her."
"I got there and she was drunk." Beth began crying again. "There were two young women in their twenties, topless, on the bed."
Amy shook her head. "Oh shit!"
"I know. I was angry, but calm. She proceeded to give me this story about the women being there when she got there and paying off the staff. But I didn't even want to hear her excuses. I knew it was going on, but to actually see it, I thought my heart was going to stop. We had a huge fight and she grabbed my arm." Beth showed her the bruise.
The concerned friend hugged her tightly. "I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I never would have guessed you and Kat would ever split up or that she'd be doing the things she's been doing."
"Neither did I. I made the decision to leave a few months ago, but waited until the kids were out of school for the summer."
"What are they saying about all of this?"
"Presley's having some problems with it. She's angry because of the alcohol and the fact that her mother is never home. Scout is confused and feeling insecure. They never saw her drink all that often, simply because she was around so little. But they saw enough and they know what's been going on. They were sad about leaving their friends in Nashville, but they've always loved Austin. I found the girls a private school where they'll start in a couple months."
"And you're going back to the university?"
Nodding, Beth answered, "Yes. I'm taking on two undergraduate courses and one graduate class."
"Are you going to sue her for palimony or child support?"
Beth shook her head. "No."
Her friend tried to reason with her. "Oh, come on. She's worth tens of millions. You helped her with her career all these years. You're entitled."
"I'm not interested in asking for anything. I'm sure she'll want to help provide for the kids. I have my own income from my books. I'm ready to move on. I'm tired of the lies, the alcohol, the cheating, and the public attention. I'm tired of hurting. I'm tired of waiting for a phone call telling me that she's driven into a telephone pole. I can't do this anymore; it's killing me. I hate seeing the hurt on the girls' faces. I simply want out. I want this to be all over with. I want her to be a part of the girls' lives, but I seriously doubt her involvement will be much more than birthday gifts, phone calls, and occasional visits."
"I can't get over it. You were so happy together."
"I thought we had it made. Twenty-three years together is a long time. I want to concentrate on getting settled here and starting a new life away from the cameras, the music business, and the tour buses that go by our house. I simply want a normal life again."
"Would you take her back if she cleaned up her act?"
Beth sadly shook her head. "No. It's been so long since we put any effort into the marriage. I would plan a romantic dinner alone after the girls went to bed and she would drink too much and fall asleep, or she would get a phone call from the label or one of her managers and go into her office or studio and work. It's too late. I hope she gets help for her own sake. We share two daughters; she will always be a part of my life. My feelings for her have changed. I'm not in love anymore. It just died." That realization hit Beth hard and she cried into her friend's shoulder.
Later that evening in Raleigh, Kat sat in her dressing room, getting ready to play for a packed arena. She picked up the phone to call her wife and kids. She was ready to do anything to keep Beth from leaving her.
Beth answered, "Hello, Kat."
"Hi." The singer replied. "Are you in Austin?"
"Are you alright? Do you need anything?"
"I'm fine. I have everything taken care of."
"I wanted to call to tell you that I'm sorry and I love you and I don't want you to move. I want to work this out 'Scilla. You can't leave me. I need you. I'll make things better."
"It's too late. There's too much pain. The girls and I can't do it anymore."
"God, baby. I'm sorry I messed up. I swear I'll never do it again. Please, you promised me forever."
The singer's words fell on deaf ears. "And you promised me that you'd be faithful. Let's just part as friends and try to be parents to the girls. You don't have room for me in your life anymore, not with the entourage that is around all the time. We both wanted a family. I'm tired of waiting for you to be a part of it."
Kat began to cry. "I'll never see the girls if you stay in Austin."
"You never see the girls now."
"Don't do this to me Beth. We'll take a vacation after this tour is over on New Year's Eve. Maybe you and the kids can come out on the road with me for the summer. Please, we can be happy again. Didn't I give you everything a woman could possibly want?"
"All I ever wanted was you."
Kat paused for a few seconds. "So you're sure about this? This is a done deal?"
"Yes, I've already found a school for the girls and I have a position teaching at the university."
"How long have you been planning this?"
"For a few months. I didn't want to make any moves until the kids were out of school."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
Beth shook her head. "I tried and I was hoping we could work things out. You didn't listen. Your drinking and business were always in the way. You never listened to me anymore. The final straw was last night. I found you with, not one, but two women. You grabbed my arm so hard, I have a bruise. I can't take the chance it will escalate. What if you lose control and hurt me or the kids?"
Kat was stunned by Beth's concerns. "I would never do that! I uhhh...I left a bruise?"
Feeling defeated and guilty, Kat continued. "I guess we need to start separating things. Get yourself an account, and call my sister with the information. I'll have a couple million put into your account to start with."
"That's not necessary, but I appreciate it."
"I'll do anything Beth, please don't do this. We can make this work. I want to work this out."
Beth resisted easily. "No, Kat. Damnit, just accept it. I'm gone."
"Hold off on decisions about the furniture and stuff in Nashville. I'll be in touch and we can settle things more permanently." Kat sniffed and wiped the tears from her eyes.
Beth agreed, "Alright."
"Can I talk to the girls?"
"Of course. Hold on a sec."
Kat stopped her. "Hey, Beth?"
"Do you think you could ever forgive me?"
"It's too soon to ask me that."
Kat nodded and fingered the drink in her hand. "Alright. Can you go ahead and get the girls please?" She wiped the tears off her cheek.
Presley came on the phone. "What?"
Kat responded in a motherly way. "Don't 'what' me young lady. I called to see how you girls were doing. Are you doing okay there in Austin?"
"We're fine. Can I go now?"
"Hey, you don't speak to your mother that way."
"You're not my mother. You're a drunk who makes my mother cry. I hear her at night and it's your damn fault."
The words cut through Kat's soul. "I'm not going to force you to talk to me. I love you regardless of what you believe, or how you feel about me. I was your mother before you were born, I am now, and will be until my life and your life are over. You can be angry all you want, but I am still your mother."
Presley rolled her eyes. "Whatever." The teenager set the phone down and walked away.
Kat's younger daughter, Scout, came on the phone. "Hi, Mom."
"Hey there baby girl. How are things in Texas? Are you having fun?"
"Yeah. We've been doing lots of cool stuff. Where are you?"
"I'm in North Carolina honey."
"Mom says we're going to live here now and you're going to live in Nashville."
"It looks like it, Scout."
"Well, if you live there and we live here, when are we going to see you? Are you still gonna be our Mom?"
Kat had to keep her voice from breaking. "Of course, baby girl. I will always be your Mom and I will come to see you as often as I can."
"What if you stop loving us or something, because you never see us?"
"That will never happen. I will always love you."
"Why do you have to work so far away? Why can't you get a different job where you can spend time with us?"
"I don't know honey."
"Don't you want to be with us anymore?"
"Of course I do."
"Why can't you stop drinking and come home? We can be a family again."
Kat's heart broke at her daughter's words. Her road manager knocked on the door and stuck his head in. "Kat, it's time to go."
The singer reassured her daughter. "Listen Scout, I've got to get on stage. Everything is going to be alright. I love you and your sister very much. I'll talk to you soon baby."
She hung up the phone and looked at the drink in her hand. She killed the glass of Jack and set it down. She wiped the tears from her eyes and checked herself in the mirror before walking out. The words of her children rang in her ears. Her entourage led her to the stage, before walking out she turned to her manager. "Get rid of all the booze by the time I get done. Get me somewhere tonight before I change my mind. I need to get clean before I lose my girls too."
"What about the tour?"
"Just do it, please."
The manager reacted to the desperation in her voice. "Alright. There's a place in Asheville. I'll get the number and we can get there tonight."
The singer stepped out on stage as the crowd cheered and roared and chanted her name. She faked a smiled as she cued her band to start. She pulled out everything within her and sang for the excited audience. After an hour and a half, she unexpectedly stopped the band between songs, sat in front of the piano and adjusted the microphone. She began playing alone.
"Maybe I didn't love you quite as often as I could have.
And maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should have.
If I made you feel second best
Girl, I'm sorry I was blind.
But you were always on my mind.
You were always on my mind.
Maybe I didn't hold you all those lonely, lonely times.
And I guess I never told you I'm so happy that you're mine.
Little things I should have said and done
I never took the time.
You were always on my mind.
You were always on my mind."
Visions of Beth ran through her head. She remembered when the girls were born. She thought of Beth's smile and her deep green eyes. Her voice grew stronger as she sang to her wife.
Tell me that your sweet love hasn't died.
Give me one more chance to keep you satisfied.
I'll keep you satisfied.
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time.
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind."
Her voice broke as she finished the last verse. The audience applauded and cheered. She couldn't stay on stage any longer. She waved to the crowd and spoke into the microphone, "Good night and thank you."
She walked off the stage, sobbing. Her manager wrapped her in his arms and led her to the limo waiting outside and shut the door behind them. Kat cried her eyes out. "How long until we get there?"
"We'll be there in a couple of hours and they're expecting you. It's a four week program. I know people who have been to this place. It's tough, but it works. I'm going to reschedule the tour dates and you'll finish them at the end. I'll take care of everything. The band is going to be told about everything and given some paid time off."
"I've got to get my family back. I can't lose them. I've been with Beth since I was eighteen. I don't even know how to be without her."
"You need to get better first and then you can take care of everything else. I'll call Beth to let her know what's going on."
"God, I need a drink."
"I know, but hang on and relax. Try to get some sleep."
Chapter 2-Last in Love
Kat awoke the next morning, throwing up, sweating and trembling. She screamed for help and a nurse came in. The nurse sat and held the singer's head while she threw up. "Relax, don't fight it. Let it go."
Kat laid back, exhausted, but unable to sleep. As her body purged the alcohol from her system, her recovery began.
Meanwhile, Beth spoke to Kat's manager. She was shocked at the news of Kat going through rehabilitation. "She did what?"
"I took her to a rehab hospital last night. She's going to be there for a month. Could you hold off on any major decisions on buying a house in Austin and selling the home in Nashville? She doesn't want this to happen, but she plans on making this as amicable as possible. She wants you to be treated fairly in all of this. Kat called her sister before she went in; she'll give you whatever you need."
"I appreciate that. I'm happy she's getting help. I know she loves the girls and I think their talk last night opened her eyes."
"She still loves you too, Beth. This breakup is tearing her apart. Last night, she finished the show nearly an hour early. She sang "Always on My Mind" and cried through it. After the song, she and I left for the treatment center in Asheville. She really needs you right now."
"I wish her well, but I can't. I do want her to get better, for the girls' sakes."
The press reported Kat's concert cancellations and alcohol problem and rehabilitation. Her friends and fans expressed their concern for the singer. Her management company promised to reschedule the cancelled dates.
As the days progressed, Kat felt her mind clear. She went through several counseling sessions a day and completed her daily duties around the facility. She started taking interest in her body again and began working out. She played her guitar in the woods. The first two weeks went by quickly and a family day was looming ahead. She summoned up the courage to call Beth.
"Hey there, 'Scilla."
"Hi, Kat. How are you doing? I heard you were in rehab."
"Yeah. It's hard and I've been going through therapy out the wazoo. But I haven't had a drink in fourteen days. I'm feeling good."
"That's great. I'm glad you're getting help."
"Listen, there's a family day coming up here this Saturday. Could you and the girls come up? It's really important to me. I need to speak to the three of you. I do warn you, there will be some group family therapy."
Beth agreed, "We'll be there."
"Thanks. I really appreciate it."
Family day came and Kat nervously waited for Beth and the girls. She smiled when she spotted them walking in the door. Presley's arms were crossed over her chest, as if she didn't want to be there. Beth observed cautiously. Scout just wanted to see her Mama. She jumped into the singer's arms. Kat wrapped her up tightly, lifting her off the ground. "How's my baby girl?"
"I'm good. Look what I brought you." The little girl handed her mother several sheets of paper. "I've got some new song lyrics for you."
Kat looked at them proudly. "Why, Miss Scout, these are wonderful. I've got my guitar with me. I'll put them to music. I'm so happy to see you. I've missed you little one."
The singer looked at her older daughter. "Don't I get a hug?"
Beth admonished their child. "Presley, don't be rude to your mother."
Kat held up her hand. "It's alright. You don't have to hug me until you're ready. I'm not going to force you."
Her gaze focused on her wife, who seemed to be more beautiful than ever. Kat's heart nearly jumped out of her throat. "It's good to see you, Beth. You look wonderful. Thank you so much for coming. There's so much I want to tell all of you. Why don't we go sit down?"
The family sat down outside at a table under a large oak tree. Kat spoke, "First of all, I want to tell you that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for tearing up our family; I'm sorry for not being there; and I'm sorry for letting y'all down. I love you three more than anything in the world. I was sick for a long time and I did things that I wouldn't normally do, but that isn't an excuse. I'm getting better. It's been nineteen days since I've had a drink. I've been working out and spending my days going to therapy session after therapy session. I feel really good. I've made some decisions while I've been here. I want us to be a family. I'm going to retire after the New Year's Eve show in Las Vegas and move to Austin. I want to be able to see you girls and be a part of your lives, even if we aren't in the same house."
Beth was shocked. "You're going to do what?"
"I'm leaving the business and moving to Texas to be near you and the girls. I'll be going to AA. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do yet, other than spend time with our daughters, if they'd like that."
Scout smiled. "Oh yeah, definitely."
Presley shrugged her shoulders. "Whatever."
Beth appeared confused and upset. "Girls, why don't you two take a walk for a few minutes. I'd like to talk to your mother alone."
Kat smiled and reached into her pocket for some quarters. "Here's some money for the Coke machine inside. There's a walking path right over there that goes to the lake. It's not far. Your mom and I need a chance to talk."
Beth turned toward the girls. "Don't go too far."
The girls walked away and Beth showed her anger. "What the hell are you doing promising them that? How could you do that to them? How could you possibly retire? So, what, are you never going to perform again?"
"I've made a decision and I'm going to follow through with it. My contract with the label is up at the end of the tour this year. I was going to record under my own label. I'm sure I will perform at some point. I may even record in Austin, but I'm not going to be away from them for months at a time anymore. Something happened when I spoke to them that night. Presley hates me. She can't stand me. She's such an angry young woman. She was put in the position of your comforter and protector whether you wanted her to be or not. She did it because of me; because she felt you needed it when you were upset about me. She deserves to be an irresponsible kid. Scout is so insecure about my love for her. She's such a sweet, loving, innocent child and I'm breaking her heart. I can't stand to do that anymore. Then, there's you. I've virtually ignored you, and you see what's happened."
Beth answered firmly, "I'm not taking you back."
Kat shook her head. "I'm not asking you to. You're ethically entitled to half of everything."
"I don't want it."
"'Scilla, it's a lot of money. You would be more than set for the rest of your life."
"I said, 'I don't want it.' "
"At least let me set you and the girls up. Were there any problems with the initial transfer?"
"Good. Have you found a house yet?"
"Good. Let me buy your house and I'll give you an additional ten thousand a month in child support. If you need anything, just ask. I would appreciate it if you found me a house near yours, within walking distance. If you can find a large stretch of land where we can put two houses, like around thirty or forty acres, that would be great and would give us the security and privacy we need. I'd like to pick up the girls from school and have every other weekend with them and during the week whenever they would like."
Beth shook her head. "Slow down Kat. Your sobriety is too new. I don't want you seeing them alone yet. I don't want to take any chances."
"By then, I will have been sober for over six months. But, I can see your point and I won't fight you on it. I'm changing Beth. I feel such a clarity that I haven't felt since, I don't know when. I'm terrified, but excited. I know what I have to lose. I lost you, but I won't lose our children. They need me right now. Their family is splitting up and they're scared. I'm going to be there for Scout and Presley. I'm going to do what I have to in order to maintain my sobriety."
Beth smiled. "Well, I'm happy to hear that. I can see a difference in your eyes. They sparkle again."
"That's because I'm around you. I don't feel like me anymore without you. Even when I was on the road, I knew you were home waiting for me. I'm so scared of living without you. I'm sorry 'Scilla. I broke my vows to you. I wasn't there when you needed me. I didn't see your pain, and I let what we had slip away. I love you baby. I will always love you. We're meant to be together."
Beth sighed and said, "No. I don't feel the same way. I don't love you like that anymore. You've hurt me too deeply and too often and my feelings died. I found you with two women. You can't expect me to forgive you after three weeks. We still have the girls and it's important that we salvage a friendship, if you're sincere about all this. You've been too much a part of my life for me to cut you out of it completely. I will find houses for both of us. We can work out visitation. The kids will want to see you and maybe we can all spend time together, every once in a while. But, we're not getting back together."
"You're my soul mate. You still love me. I know you do. I can feel it. It may not be for twenty years, but it will happen."
Beth didn't know what to say. Luckily, the girls walked up. The women smiled at their daughters. Beth asked, "So, did you girls have a nice walk?"
Scout was excited. "Yeah. It was cool."
Kat turned to her other daughter. "What about you Presley?"
The teenager rolled her eyes. "It was alright."
Kat stood up in front of her older daughter. "I think you and I need some time alone. Why don't we go talk?"
Without a word, Presley got up and walked with her mother, with her arms folded across her chest. Once they were alone, Kat spoke, "You've grown up pretty quickly, haven't you? It's my fault that you felt you had to be there for your mother. You're angry with me and that's understandable. But, I love you and I know I screwed up royally. I have no excuses for my behavior. I've been a lousy mother and a crappy wife. I can't change my past mistakes. I can only fix the present and future and that's what I'm doing now."
Presley still hadn't spoken and looked everywhere but at her mother. Kat knew she needed to draw out the teenager. "Presley, look at me."
The teenager glared at her. "What do you want from me?"
Kat focused on her daughter. "I want you to talk to me. I want you to tell me how you feel. Hit me. Scream at me. Do something for God's sake."
"Fine!" The adolescent yelled, "I hate you! You're a fucking drunk who's never home! I had to leave all my friends and move to Texas and it's your fault! Mom cried herself to sleep all the time and it was your fault! I hate you for never being home! I hate you for hurting us! I hate you for splitting us up! I hate you for not loving us enough!" The teenager began crying and hitting her mother. "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" She repeated these words over and over until collapsing against Kat, who wrapped her arms around the young woman.
The singer comforted her daughter. "It's okay. That's my girl. That's my girl. I'm sorry Presley. I'm so sorry I hurt you. I love you. " Kat began singing the song she used to sing to the young woman when she was a little girl.
"If I needed you would you come to me?
Would you swim the seas for to ease my pain?
If you needed me I would come to you.
I would swim the seas for to ease your pain.
Well the night's forlorn and the morning's born
And the morning shines with the eyes of love.
And you'll miss sunrise if you close your eyes
And that would break my heart in two.
If I needed you would you come to me?
Would you swim the seas for to ease my pain?
If you needed me I would come to you?
I would swim the seas for to ease your pain."
The girl's tears began to subside. Kat pulled back and looked into her daughter's green eyes. "Everything's going to be alright. I'm coming home real soon; for good. You're going to see me so much, you'll be sick of me."
"Are you and Mom getting back together?"
Kat wanted to keep her personal beliefs to herself. "I don't think so."
"Don't you love Mom anymore?"
Kat tried to reassure her daughter. "Yes, of course I do. But sometimes that's not enough. We're going to raise you and your sister together. We won't live in the same house. But, I'll live close to you. You'll live with her, but see me nearly every day. You can come to my house any time you want. You will never be expected to choose between us. We both love you and your sister more than anything."
"What about my music lessons?"
Kat grinned. "You've hit the jackpot there. Until I get home and we can work together, I've got several friends who are excellent teachers. Some of the coolest musicians are in Austin. I'll set you up."
"That's awesome. I want to start working on the mandolin."
"How's your piano and guitar coming?"
"Tell you what, maybe you'll get one for Christmas. I'll be home for the holidays, then I've got to get to Las Vegas for my New Year's Eve show. After that, I will be in Austin permanently. I'll teach you if you like. So, are we good?"
The young woman answered. "Yeah. I don't really hate you."
Kat smiled. "I know. It might be kind of hard sometimes, but we'll get through this. I love you and your sister more than anything."
The teenager nodded her response.
"Let's go back and see your Mom and sister."
The mother and daughter walked back to the rest of the family. Kat had one arm around her older daughter's shoulder. She sat down next to Scout.
"So, Miss Scout, do you have any questions?"
The young girl nodded. "So you're really moving to Austin too?"
Kat grinned. "Yes, I am."
"And you're not going out on the road anymore? I can really see you all the time?"
"That's right. As much as you want."
"Are you and Mom ever going to live together?"
"No. I'm going to have my own house."
"Can I keep some of my stuff there?"
"Of course you can, sweetheart. You're going to have your own room. We'll go shopping and you can pick out a new bed and decorate your room however you want."
The young girl nodded. "Cool."
"So are you alright with all of this?"
The young girl thought for a minute. "I wish we could all live together in the same house as a real family. But, as long as I get to see you, I guess it's okay."
The singer hugged her daughter tightly, kissing her on the top of her head. "Scout darlin', we're still going to be a family, but live in different houses. We'll always be a family."
Soon after, the family sat in a group therapy session. Family members talked about how alcohol impacted their lives. Soon it was Kat's turn to stand up.
"My name is Kat and I'm an alcoholic. This is my partner, or rather ex-partner, Beth, and our two daughters. That ex-part is one of the consequences of my drinking. I think I started drinking when I was a teenager. I played in bars from the time I was sixteen until I started touring major venues. Sharing beers with my band became a tradition and then kind of a habit. Over time, it continued, and twenty years later, I was drinking more and more after my shows. There's a lot of excess in my job and I was expected to participate in it and I did. When I was under the influence, I did things I wouldn't normally do. I hurt my family deeply and my partner couldn't take my behavior anymore. I've hurt her and I've hurt my girls. But, I'm here so that I can get better for myself and my daughters."
The therapist responded, "Beth, let's hear from you. How did Kat's drinking affect you?"
Beth stood up to speak. "Kat and I were together for twenty-three years. Her drinking caused her to be absent the few times she was home. It kept her separated from our family. It caused her to break her vows. I never knew if I would get a call from the police telling me she was in jail, in a hospital, or dead. She wasn't usually violent, but easily agitated. She would yell and throw temper tantrums. I think it would have been more difficult if she had been home more frequently. But, from the stories I'd heard about when she was on the road, she was verbally abusive to her crew and roadies and other staff around her. People would quit after only a few weeks because she was too difficult to deal with. She made it so damn hard to even want to be around her, much less love her. The thing is, she only behaves like this when she drinks. She was the most amazing person to be with. Everyone loved her. She had some of the same band members for twenty years. All the people in her life who truly love her, have left her, other than her parents and our girls. It hurt so badly to see what she'd become. I really hope she's sincere about what she's promising."
The counselor looked at Beth. "So how does all of this make you feel?"
She answered, "It hurts more than I can express. It hurt so much, I had to leave and move to Texas."
Kat wiped the tears from her eyes. Hearing what Beth said was like a mirror being put in front of her, and she didn't like what she saw. She hated the way Beth felt. The singer ached for a drink with every fiber of her being. She didn't like the pain of coming to terms with the consequences of her actions. Kat wanted to lose the pain; to forget.
When the day ended, Kat walked her family out. She hugged the girls tightly. "I love you both so much. I'm going back on tour after I get out of here. Maybe y'all can come meet me and spend a few days. I'd really love to see you."
Beth nodded. "I'll try to coordinate something with your parents. I bet they'd love to spend a few days with you and the girls."
Kat felt deflated. "Oh, I was hoping you would bring them. I'd love the chance to spend some time with you too."
Beth pulled her to the side away from the girls. "I don't think that's a good idea. We need time apart as a non-couple. I'll have the furniture moved out of the house in Nashville and the house put on the market. I'll start looking for places for us. We can split the furniture. You can keep all your personal things. I'll put them in storage for you." Beth had felt the pain and shed her tears. All that remained was numbness where her heart had been.
Kat didn't want to have this conversation. Everything in her was fighting the acceptance of the situation. She nodded. "Be safe. I'll talk to you soon. I get out of here in eight days. I'm going to find a music teacher for Presley. I'll call you with all the information. As far as houses are concerned, I want to again suggest you get a place with about thirty acres and we can build a house for me on the opposite side."
Beth nodded. "I'll let you know when I find something. Good luck, Kat. You're doing great. Please keep it up. The girls really need you."
"Thanks. I know they need me. I'll be there."
"Good. Take care."
The singer smiled. "You too, 'Scilla."
Tears fell from Kat's eyes as she watched her wife and daughters walk out the door. Beth felt like her heart was being ripped out as she left Kat behind. She hated it, but she still loved the singer. Kat went back to her room and picked up her guitar and began playing a series of chords beginning with G, going into F sharp minor, then into E minor, and A. She reached for a pen and paper and started writing out her pain.
"Blues outside my door.
Don't even know if it's raining.
But, I've been here before
And I don't wanna be here again.
Every now and then
Voices on the wind
Take me back to the first time.
Far away and clear
You can hear the teardrops falling for the last in love.
If I let you down
All I can say is I'm sorry.
Now it's all over town
So I don't wanna hear it from you.
Please don't look away
It's hard enough to say.
This could go on forever.
When the night is clear
You can hear the teardrops
Falling for the last in love.
Every now and then
Voices on the wind
I may love you always and always.
Far away and clear
You can hear the teardrops
Falling for the last in love.
Calling for the last in love
Will we always be the last in love?"
Kat finished her time in rehabilitation feeling more alive and stronger than she had in years. The pain of losing her wife bit into her sharply, but the ability to feel it, was almost a relief. She prepared to continue her tour.
Her manager picked her up and drove her straight to the airport for a flight to Virginia, where she was to meet up with her band for two days of rehearsal. She walked into the room and her band was already there playing and waiting for her. They stopped when the singer stepped into the room.
She smiled. "Damn y'all are good. I want to apologize to everyone for my behavior. I was a real bitch. Things are going to be different around here. You can keep alcohol in your bus, but it's not going to be backstage. This isn't going to be easy for me, but we're family and I know y'all will support me in this. I am sorry for the interruption and for the disruption. I also want to tell you that after the New Year's Eve show, I'm leaving."
The band looked at her shocked. "I know you weren't expecting it. I know this leaves each of you without a job, and I feel terrible about that. I'm going to try to hook y'all up with other gigs though. My wife has left me and my kids need to know that I am there for them and that I still love them. I need them too, so I am going to be a mother for them. I don't know when or if I'll be back. I'm going to announce it at a press conference in Richmond."
Silence invaded the room and lasted for several seconds. Kat's drummer stepped out from behind his drums and walked up to the singer, wrapping his arms around her. She started crying in his embrace. He had been her drummer and friend for ten years and she loved him like a brother. The other band members came up and took their turns and hugged her tightly.
She pulled back and wiped the tears out of her eyes. "Let's cut this mushy crap and get to playing some music. I need to stop crying. I'm going to screw up my voice." They all laughed and started running through their set.
Two days later, Kat sat at a long table with her managers and record label executives in front of a room full of reporters. Her leg shook nervously as she tried to remain cool. She wanted a drink so badly she could barely stand it. Instead, she drank the water in front of her. Soon it was time to start and the head of her record label expressed his support for the singer. Then it was time for Kat to speak.
"First of all, I'd like to thank all of the people who sent me tokens of their love and support while I was in rehab. I received all the cards, letters, and gifts when I got out a few days ago. I am an alcoholic and have had a serious problem for about two years now. I apologize to my family and to my fans for the impact my drinking has had. The cancelled concerts will be rescheduled and the original tickets will be honored. Second, I want to announce my retirement. After my New Year's Eve show in Las Vegas, I will be returning home to Austin. I thank all of my fans for this amazing life they have given me. I have been touched in ways that I can't ever fully express. You've given me so much over the years; more than I can ever repay. My partner and I are separating and my daughters need me to be available for them completely. To be perfectly honest, I need them right now too. It's time for me to leave the party before I overstay my welcome. I need to put my family first. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I will now be taking a few questions."
"Are you leaving the music industry permanently?"
" I doubt it. It's what I do. It's what I know. I am taking a break for a while. I may perform here and there on occasion, but not for long tours."
Another reporter asked. "Will you be doing any recording?"
"It's possible. I've always wanted to have my own label. Right now, I'm going to concentrate on my kids."
"How do you feel about being seen as a role model for other lesbian couples now that you've split up with your longtime partner?"
"Quite frankly, I'm simply trying to get through my own reaction to my breakup. I know many in the lesbian and gay community admired us, but couples split. I'm sorry if we've disappointed people, but Beth and I would appreciate some space so that we may deal with it privately and focus on our daughters."
The head of the record label spoke up. "That will be all for today. Kat has to save her voice for her concert tonight. I want to urge people to catch Kat when she comes to their town, as this will be her last tour. Thank you all for coming."
The singer was ushered back to the concert arena to get ready for the show that night.
Beth returned to Austin and began her life as a single mother. She was house hunting with her daughters and a realtor when she got a call from her mother.
"Beth, Kat just announced her retirement. I saw it on the entertainment news channel."
The professor was stunned. "She actually did it. I didn't think she would, but she did. Good for her. The girls are going to be thrilled."
"And what about you?"
"I truly hope she means what she says and can keep herself together."
"You aren't looking forward to her being here even a little?"
"Mom, knock it off. I can't go into it right now."
She hung up the phone and turned to her girls. "Well, your mother officially announced her retirement."
Both girls were excited at the prospect of having their other mother around all the time. Beth was happy for her girls but prayed that her ex-partner was sincere.
Beth bought a four-bedroom house on fifty acres of land just outside of town. She arranged to have another four-bedroom house built on the back of the property for Kat. They had a large pond, horse stables, and an advanced security system and gate. The professor began her new job and the girls settled into their school routine. The house in Nashville was put on the market and was sold by Halloween.
Kat prepared for her next phase of life and worked tirelessly on maintaining her new sobriety and whipping her body into shape. She went to ninety AA meetings in ninety days and then continued to go at least twice a week. She spoke to the girls every day and saw them at Christmas. Beth and the girls went to Las Vegas for Kat's final show, which was televised. Afterward, she had a few odds and ends to take care of before she returned to Austin. She was eager to see her daughters on a regular basis.
Chapter 3-Take You with Me
Two weeks after her last show, Kat stepped off her label's private plane and waved at Beth and her daughters who waited for her. Scout ran to her mother, who dropped her bags and wrapped the little girl tightly in her arms.
"Hey there, baby girl."
"Hi, Mom. Welcome home."
Kat laughed. "Thank you, sweetheart."
Presley walked up and hugged her mother as well. "Hey, Mom."
"Hey there, squirt."
Even Beth had a smile for her. She put her arms around the singer in a friendly hug. Kat nearly began to cry as she felt the woman she loved in her arms. They held one another for an extra few seconds. Kat noticed a change in Beth's breathing as they embraced.
Beth, filled with conflicting emotions, stepped out of the singer's arms and without facing her. "Come on guys. Kat, I'll show you the house. It's nearly done. The builder said they would be finished in a month. I think you'll like it."
The family walked toward Beth's SUV. Kat turned to Beth. "What about the soundproof room for the recording studio?"
"They were given strict instructions about it. It's one of the things they're finishing now. How have you been, Kat?"
The singer smiled. "I'm good. I'm excited about being home. I've missed this town. We were happy here."
The foursome climbed into the large vehicle. Kat turned to her ex-wife. "How about you? How is the semester so far?"
"I'm doing well. The semester starts this week, and I'm teaching a course on American women writers. You know how much I love that topic."
The singer smiled, "Yes, I do." Kat turned to her girls in the back. "How's school going for you two? Do you still like this new school?"
Presley answered. "Yeah. We're getting ready for UIL competition this spring in Choir and the spring musical. We're doing Oklahoma. Could you help with that?"
The singer grinned. "I'd love to. I was in that one many years ago in high school; I played Aunt Eller."
The family laughed in response.
The teenager smiled back at her mother. "Thanks."
Kat asked her younger daughter, "What about you, Miss Scout? How do you like school?"
"It's fun. I'm writing for the school newspaper this semester. I've been studying for the Spelling Bee. If I win in my class, I go up against the other fourth grade class winners at my school. If I win that, I go up against all the fourth grade winners in the city."
Kat grinned at her enthusiastic daughter. "Well, honey, I think you're going to do great and I'll even help you study."
"Will you come watch me?"
The singer nodded. "Yep. I will be at everything."
Beth smiled. "Have you been going to your meetings?"
"Yes. Twice a week and more if I need it. There's one tonight."
The professor looked at Kat. "I'm glad to hear that. So what do you plan to do now that you're retired?"
"I plan on staying sober and being a mom. I've been writing like crazy. I'm going to work on getting the recording studio together."
"That sounds good. I have some pictures for us to go through. After we see your place, you can come over and have dinner and you can pick out the photos you want. Plus, I'm sure you want to spend some time with the girls. Are you staying at your parents' place?"
Kat nodded. "Tonight only. I'm going to get a hotel suite until the house is finished. Dinner sounds nice, but I need to leave around eight. I have a meeting I want to go to."
They pulled up to the expansive ranch and Beth used her remote control to open the gates. Beth drove down the gravel road between her house and Kat's. She stopped in front of the nearly finished structure. Kat stepped out of the truck and assessed the large house. Beth came up behind her.
"So what do you think?"
Kat felt sad when she realized she would be living in this big house all alone. "It's great. I have no idea how I'm going to decorate. You've been decorating our homes for the last twenty years."
"I can help you if you want."
"I'd appreciate it."
Kat walked around the rest of the house and spoke to the builder and the men and women working on her house. After inspecting the structure in progress, she and her family went to Beth's house. The teacher opened the door and started walking up the stairs to her room. "Kat, would you start a fire in the fireplace? It's chilly in here. I'll get the pictures so we can start looking through them. Would you like some hot chocolate?"
"That sounds perfect. Hey, Presley, go get your guitar and mandolin. We'll play a little."
The teenager walked up the stairs. "'Kay."
Kat started a fire and Presley brought her guitar and mandolin from upstairs. The singer took the mandolin. "Is your guitar in tune?"
Presley nodded. "It should be. I tuned it to the piano this morning." She strummed the strings and heard that they were in tune.
"Good. Give me an E." The girl played the string and her mother tuned the mandolin. "Alright. Let's do "Love Like This." You wanna sing the harmony or melody?"
"I'll do melody."
The teenager started playing and her mother joined in. The girl began to sing the upbeat tune.
"A king would trade his finest crown for love. Love like this.
And warriors have laid weapons down for love. Love like this.
Hearts will break a thousand times for love. Love like this.
And arms will wait a thousand nights for love. Love like this.
Love may come and love may go
But here inside your arms I know
That only you could ever show me love like this.
You and I have finally found love. Love like this.
A place to lay our burdens down. Love, love like this.
Hearts can speak without a sound. Love, love like this.
What makes the world keep turnin' round? Love, love like this.
Love may come and love may go
But here inside your arms I know
That only you could ever show me love like this
The moon has never shown before. Love, love like this.
And I have never wanted more than. Love, love like this.
Love, love like this."
The mother and daughter looked up when they heard clapping. Beth and Scout were applauding and smiling.
Beth spoke, "I love hearing the two of you play together like that."
Presley smiled. "Yeah, but I'll never be able to play as good as she does."
The singer laughed. "Honey, I think you're going to be better than your old Mom. Give it time."
Beth spoke to her daughters, "I have hot chocolate in the kitchen for you two. Presley, take your mandolin and guitar back to your room." She handed a steaming cup of cocoa to Kat, who was sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace with her back against the couch.
Kat looked up at the blonde and smiled. "Thanks."
Beth returned the smile and set her cup down. She went to pick up a large Tupperware container and some photo albums. "We have a ton of pictures to go through. We won't have time to go through them all today, but we're not in a hurry. I thought you'd like to have some to start with."
"I would, thanks."
The women didn't see the two girls watching them and whispering. The older girl leaned down to her sister. "Look, they're smiling and getting along. Let's leave them alone and go upstairs."
The Scout nodded. When they reached the upstairs, the young blonde looked up at her sister. "Do you think they'll ever get back together?"
Presley shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. But I hope so. I think they still love each other."
"I hope so too."
The girls made themselves scarce while their mothers went through the old photos. The former couple laughed and shared old memories.
Kat pointed at the wedding photo. "Oh, my God! Were we ever that young?"
Beth laughed. "Yes. We were only twenty. All of our friends helped us fix up the back yard. You looked like Elvis with your black suit with that gold lame` jacket. You were breathtaking."
"Your mother nearly had a fit because you were barefoot. You were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen." Kat brushed her hand through Beth's hair. "You still are."
Beth shook her head and gently removed the singer's hand. "Please, don't."
"I'm sorry 'Scilla. It's hard for me. You've been my lover for twenty-three years. We've been separated for seven months. It's hard for me to sit here with you and not touch you. I still love you baby."
"Kat, we can't do this. It's over. We aren't together anymore. This is hard for me too. I'm so proud of you, getting yourself together and moving here to be with the girls. You look wonderful and I will always love you. It's taken us seven months to establish a friendship. Honestly, I need you in my life. You are the person who knows me better than anyone and you are the other mother of my children. But I can't go there again. It was too hard and the hurt is still there, although it's not nearly as bad. I need you in my life but I can't be your lover anymore."
Kat began sobbing. "I don't think I can do this. I feel like I'm dying inside."
Beth rocked her, holding her tightly. "I know. I was dying for two years."
"I'm sorry baby. I'm so, so sorry. Today in my house, I realized that I haven't lived alone since I was nineteen. I can't believe I ruined our relationship. Can you ever forgive me?"
The blonde looked in her eyes. "I forgive you Kat. Be my best friend for the rest of my life?"
Kat held her hands. "If you'll be mine?"
Beth smiled sympathetically. "I will."
Kat tried to smile through her tears. "So will I."
They continued going through the rest of the pictures. Beth held up a photo of Kat and Presley onstage when their daughter was four. The little tyke was up on stage standing next to her mother, singing and playing a small guitar. Both wore black leather jackets. "Oh, look how cute you two were. She was and is the spitting image of you."
Kat laughed. "You took that one. That was in Montreal when you were pregnant with Scout, right before we moved to Nashville. Can I have this one?"
Beth smiled. "Of course."
The two women spent the afternoon laughing, crying and reliving old memories. Kat looked at a picture of Beth in their bed, holding a newborn Scout. "I love this picture. She's such a beautiful little girl. I was so afraid I would miss her being born. There I was, backstage at the Opry, and you went into labor."
Beth laughed. "My mother and I watched you on TV as I was doing my breathing, waiting for the midwife and nurse. You had the strangest expression on your face. I think you played your songs twice as fast as normal."
Kat shook her head. "But, I got there. I think I was more nervous when she was born. When Presley was born, we were at least in a hospital. Scout was so little and sweet. She had strawberry-blonde hair just like yours. She's had me wrapped around her finger ever since."
Beth smiled. "I was sometimes a little jealous. I would wake up at night and you weren't in bed. I'd get up to look for you and find you slow dancing with her in your arms. You were usually singing Van Morrison or the Beatles."
Kat grinned softly at the memory. "'Blackbird.' I used to sing 'Blackbird' to her. Occasionally, you'd come join us and the three of us would slow dance in her room in the middle of the night."
They talked for hours, purging themselves of some of the pain that had been building for so long. They even made dinner, sharing more memories and laughter. Afterward, Kat grabbed her bag of photos. "So what kind of visitation do I get?"
Beth smiled. "Let's start with dinner once a week, and every other weekend they can stay with you. You're doing such a great job maintaining your sobriety and if this works, then you can start picking the girls up from school soon. That is, if they would like that." Beth turned to her daughters, who were clearing the dishes. Both girls grinned and nodded their heads. "I'll walk you out." Kat hugged and kissed her two daughters.
Beth faced the singer. "I think it's great that you're going to these meetings. It was nice spending today with you. It's been a long time since we've had so much fun together."
Kat nodded. "Yes, it has. Thanks for everything. Would you and the girls like to go do something tomorrow afternoon?"
"Sure. It's supposed to be cold, so why don't we go to a movie or bowling?"
The singer grinned. "I'd like that, friend."
Beth reached up to kiss her on the cheek. "Have a good night, friend."
Kat arrived at the meeting, poured a cup of coffee and sat down. The meeting began and she listened to other people speak and tell their stories. She stood up and introduced herself. "Hi. My name is Kat and I'm an alcoholic. I've been sober for seven months, one week, and three days. Alcohol cost me my partner and nearly cost me my children. When I was drunk, my wife caught me with another woman. My thirteen-year old daughter wouldn't speak to me. I broke my nine-year old daughter's heart. I think that's what led me to seek help. I was afraid of hurting my daughters even more than I already had. So, I checked into a rehab center. I'm spending every minute of every day focused on my sobriety."
Late that night on her parents' back porch, Kat played her guitar and thought about all the pictures and her past with Beth. She began to write.
"The mail's been piling up for the last two weeks
Give away two dollars for every dollar I keep
I can't even find my ends, let alone make them meet.
Heading out the door again on four hours sleep
I know you are waiting on my return,
Anticipating all the lessons I have learned
Dreaming about it having money to burn
Maybe, someday baby it'll be our turn
I'd do it all for you
There ain't nothing that I would not do
I'd do it all for you
Everything I ought to do
If I could do it all again I'd take you with me when I go
I'd take you with me when I go
I pull in the driveway, I walk through the gate
Came home a day early but it was too damn late
The house it feels so empty, that's the one thing I hate
The note on the table said you could not wait, could not wait
I'd do it all for you
There ain't nothing that I would not do
I'd do it all for you
Everything I ought to do
If I could do it all again, I'd take you with me when I go
I'd take you with me when I go
I'd take you with me when I go
I'd take you with me when I go"
As she was finishing her song, writing out some final touches, her father walked out the sliding glass doors. Kat smiled at her father. "Hi, Dad. I'm not keeping you up, am I?"
The older man returned the smile. "No, sweetheart. Your mother and I were watching Leno. You know, it's not the same since Carson left."
Kat chuckled. "I guess not."
"Do you mind if I join you?"
"No, go right ahead. I was just out here thinking."
"About Beth and the girls?"
"Yeah. I really messed things up. I'll tell ya, I never thought this would be my life."
"I understand where you're coming from. I want to tell you something. When you were little, about three I guess, your mother left me and took you with her."
Shocked, Kat said, "What? Why?"
"I'm an alcoholic. One night, I was drunk and raging and knocking things over. You got out of bed and looked at me and your mother with such fear. You wrapped your arms around your mother's legs. You trembled. I tried to comfort you and you wouldn't let me touch you. That was a hard thing for me to take. Your mother took you and went to your grandparents that night. I got help and I've been sober ever since."
Kat looked at her father with tears in her eyes. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was so grateful that you forgot. I didn't want to remind you of something that horrible. Maybe if I had, you wouldn't have taken the path you did. I did you an injustice."
Kat shook her head. "I guess that makes sense. Why did you let me play in all those bars then?"
"You had a gift. At that time, it was the only way for you to really start your career. Besides, you were a very determined child. If I had told you not to, you would have snuck out and done it anyway. Parents make mistakes. I was in denial about what you would be doing in those bars. I was afraid to go because I was worried about my own sobriety. Your cousin, Jeff was in your band. He was an adult, and I trusted him to know better. I thought he'd watch over you."
"It's alright. What's done is done. I only hope I can make it up to my kids."
"You've taken responsibility for your actions and your family. I'm proud of you."
Kat's father nodded and stood to go back in the house. "Goodnight, Kat."
"'Night. I appreciate the talk."
Kat exhaled deeply as she considered her father's words.
Chapter 4-Whenever You Come Around
Kat had spent the previous two months helping with her daughter's school musical and trying to be the best parent she could be. She went to her AA meetings religiously, picked her daughters up from school, and worked on the recording studio she was designing. She had dinner with Beth and the kids at least once a week. She spent every other weekend with her girls. Her house was finished and her ex-wife was helping her decorate. The former lovers had forged a strong friendship and worked together to raise their two children.
She was downtown on Lamar Street one day and decided to stop by the old music store where she had worked so many years before. Grinning, she walked in the door. The old man who had been her boss long ago was still standing at the counter. She walked up to him. "Mr. Johnson? I'm not sure if you remember me..."
"Kat Green," the old man interrupted. "How the hell you doin', girl?" He walked around the counter and hugged her tightly. "It's good to see you. I heard you had yourself a bit of trouble."
"It's good to see you too. I've been good. I've got a drinking problem, but I got some help and I'm doing much better. I'm back in town now and I've got two daughters. So, how about you? I can't believe you're still here. It's been twenty years."
"Oh, I've been good. Can't complain. In fact, I'm retirin' and sellin' this old place."
"Good for you." Suddenly Kat was struck with an idea. "You got a buyer yet?"
"Not yet. I just put it up for sale."
"Let me buy it."
"Let me buy this place. I loved working here. I'll keep it going like you have."
"You don't even know what I'm askin' for this old place?"
Kat laughed. "I don't care. I want this store. I had some of the best times of my life here. I can have the money sent to you by the end of the week. Besides, you know I'm the only one who will run it the way it should be."
The old man grinned. "Kat, you got yourself a music store with a full inventory."
Kat returned the smile and hugged the man. "Thanks, Mr. Johnson. How many employees do you have here?"
"Ten. They're mostly part-time."
"Why don't we call a staff meeting for tomorrow night? I think the transition would work better if we could get any questions out of the way together."
The man nodded. "I agree. I've got three employees here now. Come meet them."
"I'd like that."
Mr. Johnson called the staff over. Two men and one young woman walked up. "Guys, this is your new boss. This is..."
The woman grinned. "Kat Green! Oh wow! Oh wow!"
Kat laughed. The former owner continued, "So you already know her. She used to work here back in college. She worked here in the store and gave lessons, so she knows what she's doin'. She's also one of the best damn pickers I've ever worked with."
Kat shook her head. "Thanks. Basically, I'm not going to change things too much. We'll go over any ideas we all have as they come up. It's good to meet y'all."
The staff smiled and looked excited about working for someone as famous as Kat. The old man walked with Kat behind the desk and began to show her around, pointing out where everything was kept. He explained the payroll and before she knew it, she had been there several hours and it was time to meet the girls.
"Mr. Johnson, I've got to go pick up my daughters from school. But, I will see you in the morning. Have the papers drawn up and I'll sign them and have the money wired to your bank. I'm really excited about this. You won't be sorry."
Her old boss smiled. "I know I won't. You've always been one of my favorite kids." He handed her a set of keys. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Kat could barely contain her excitement. Ideas were buzzing around in her head. On the way to the school, she dialed Beth's mobile phone.
"Hey, Kat. What's up?"
"Hey, 'Scilla. What are you doing tonight?"
"Tonight is your night with the girls, so I was going to work on a paper that I'm preparing for publication."
"Come have dinner with us. I've got a surprise and I'm taking everyone out."
"What's the surprise?"
"You'll find out tonight. It's really, really great. I'll come pick you up this evening and drop you off in the morning."
"No, why don't you drop me off at my truck after your little surprise. I don't want to leave it downtown all night. Pick me up at five."
Scout and Presley climbed into Kat's tan Escalade.
Scout greeted her mother, "Hi, Mom."
Smiling, Kat looked at her daughter. "Hey, baby girl. How was your day?"
"It was great! I got an A on my math test."
"That's my girl. You're smart like your other mother. Do you have a lot of homework tonight?"
"I've got my vocabulary sentences to write and a science worksheet to do."
The singer looked over at her other daughter. "And how was your day sweetie?"
"It was good. My voice lesson went really great. Ms. Walker thinks I'm going to do well at the competition. Don't forget, I've got the District Solo and
Ensemble competition this Saturday."
"Super. I haven't forgotten. Ask the girls in your quartet if they'd like to spend the night and all go together on Saturday."
"That would be so much fun. I'll call everyone tonight."
"What kind of homework do you have?"
"I've got to diagram sentences. I hate that. And we got this new book today in reading. It's called Go Ask Alice. It's an old book, have you ever read it?"
"Yes, years ago, when I was a teenager. There's a lot of controversy surrounding it."
"That's what our teacher said. I've heard some parts are gross."
"It's very graphic, but a good book for you to read. I want both of you to work on your homework immediately. We have to go pick up your mother at five. I've got a surprise for everyone and I'm taking y'all out to dinner."
Scout got really excited. "Cool. What is it?"
Kat laughed. " I'm not telling. You'll have to wait."
Later that afternoon, Kat and the girls picked Beth up. Beth smiled at her family. "How was everyone's day?"
Scout smiled. "It was great."
"How about you Presley?"
"It was good. I need you to check my sentence diagrams."
The blonde looked over at her former lover, "So what is this big surprise?"
With a sly grin, Kat suggested, "Why don't we go get dinner first?"
The group interrupted her. "NO!"
Laughing, the singer gave in. "Okay, okay."
She pulled up in front of the music store. Beth immediately recognized the place. "This is where you worked when we met."
Kat nodded, with an enormous grin on her face. "Yep. Let's go in."
Presley began to get excited. "Am I getting a new guitar?"
Her mother shook her head. "No. Well, not yet anyway." She opened the door and held out the keys. "I bought it today. This is my new store."
Beth looked at her, surprised. "Really? You bought this place?"
"Yep. Mr. Johnson was still here. I came in this morning to check out guitars and a new piano because I gave mine to you for Presley to use. He said he was selling the store and retiring. I offered to buy it and the inventory on the spot. I got the keys and he is having the papers drawn up. I spent the day here and will probably completely take over on Monday. I'll still come get you girls after school every day and your Mom can pick you up from the shop. You can do your homework in the rehearsal rooms."
Presley was beaming. "This is so cool, Mom. Can I work here? Can I play any instrument here?"
"Yes, if it's alright with your mother, and yes, if you're careful with them."
Scout chimed in, "I wanna work here too."
They all looked at Beth. "Look at your three hound dog faces. Yes, of course, you can both work here; after your homework is done."
Kat grinned and winked at her. There were two new staff members at the shop who excitedly came up to the singer.
"Ms. Green? We heard you bought the place. I'm Robin and this is Joey. We're big fans of yours."
Kat chuckled. "Please, call me Kat and yes, I'm the new owner. These are my girls, Scout and Presley. They'll be here with me every afternoon. This is their other mom, Beth."
Robin stared in awe of the famous singer, "You're actually going to work here too?"
"Yes I am. I take over completely on Monday."
"That's really cool. We're all buzzing about the news, even the people who didn't come in today."
"Good. I used to work here myself many years ago."
A customer came in the store and began looking at amplifiers. Robin noticed. "I've got to go help that man, but I'm looking forward to working with you."
Kat nodded and looked at her family. "What does everybody think?"
Presley was on cloud nine. "This is way cool!" Her mouth nearly watered, as she viewed all the instruments that she couldn't wait to get her hands on.
Scout was also enthusiastic. "Do I get paid a commission?"
Kat laughed. "Just slow down there hot shot." The singer looked at Beth.
"What do you think, 'Scilla?"
The teacher looked up at her. "I think it's wonderful hon. I'm very proud of you."
Kat leaned down and hugged her ex-lover tightly. "Thanks, it means a lot to me. I want you to be proud of me. I want you to see that I've changed."
Beth stared into her ex-wife's vulnerable face and could feel her heart melting. She shook off the urge to kiss the taller woman. 'No, stop that. It's over. We're through and I can't go back there.'
The women shared a few short electrical moments as everything seemed to stop around them. They didn't even notice that they were holding hands. The two girls grinned, watching their mothers connect. The ringing of the doorbell broke the shared moment. Kat smiled shyly. "Why don't we go ahead and get dinner? The girls still have school tomorrow."
Beth returned the expression. "Let's go."
A month had passed since Kat bought the music store. She had an opening celebration and christened the new store and name. "Guitar Town" replaced "South Austin Music." Some people came specifically to see Kat, but were impressed by the selection of instruments and usually bought something. She grew accustomed to the new schedule, spending her days at the store. Presley was earning a new guitar by restringing guitars, mandolins, banjos, and violins. One morning, a woman walked into the store and stood and stared at Kat who was standing behind the counter, going over employee schedules.
The woman spoke, "Well, well, well. I had heard that some big celebrity bought this old place, so I had to see with my own eyes."
Kat looked up and grinned. She quickly walked over to the woman and embraced her enthusiastically. Kat pulled back to look at her old friend. "Oh, my God! Lainie Albright! I haven't seen you in so damn long. You look great."
Lainie beamed. "It's good to see you too. You, my friend, look awesome. How've you been?"
"I've been good. I'm on the wagon, working out, working hard, and hanging out with my kids."
"I'm glad to hear it. Are you still playing?"
"Of course. I put a studio in my house and I teach Presley."
"Oh wow. How old is she now?"
"She's going to be fourteen in June."
"You're kidding? I remember when she was born. You were nuts about that kid."
"I still am. She's a hell of a little picker and singer. I've also got another daughter, Scout. She recently turned ten. She doesn't play, but she's a great writer, dancer and the sweetest thing. She takes after Beth."
Both women laughed. "How is Beth? I heard you two split up."
Kat confirmed, "Yeah. It's been almost a year now. We're best friends now and we're raising our girls together. It took us several months to get to that point, but it's good. She's doing well. How about you and Kim?"
"She's great. We're still together. It's been fifteen years."
"That is wonderful. So are you still playing?"
Lainie nodded. "Yes, I am. In fact, it's one of the reasons I stopped by. I heard you were in town and then I found out you bought this old place. I've got a group of women who play together. We don't tour or anything. We mostly hang out one night a week and play. We do bluegrass, country, some acoustic rock. I was wondering if you'd like to join us. We meet every Tuesday night."
"I'd love to. Why don't you meet here next Tuesday? We close at seven."
Lainie grinned. "That would be great. I'll let the girls know. I've got to go. It's good to see you Kat. Take care of yourself."
"Thanks for coming in. I'll see you."
The two women shared a hug and the old friend left.
Beth sat in her office working on her paper when there was a knock on her door. "Come in," she called.
Emma, her colleague and friend, poked her head in the door. "Hey, you. What are you up to?"
Beth smiled. "Hey, Emma, I'm working on this damn article. I welcome the distraction. Come in; have a seat."
Emma sat down. "How's it coming?"
"Alright. It should be done by the deadline."
"Good. What are you doing this Friday night?"
Beth thought for a minute. "Nothing I know of. What do you have in mind?"
The woman grinned at her friend. "I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner and then maybe go to a jazz club?"
Beth was taken aback by the question. "Are you asking me out on a date?"
Emma laughed nervously. "Yes, I am. I've liked you for a long time. I enjoy your friendship and your company. I think you're a wonderful woman and I'd like to take you out on a date."
"I'm sorry. I guess I'm just surprised. It has been so long since I've been out on a date. I was with the same person for over twenty years. Dinner sounds nice, Emma. I'd like that. I enjoy your company as well."
The teacher smiled. "Good. So, I will pick you up at your place at seven on Friday."
"I'm looking forward to it."
Friday evening came and Beth was in her room throwing clothes around. 'What do I wear? I haven't been on a date in over twenty years.' She looked at herself in the mirror. The black dress fit her slim waist beautifully. She looked through her jewelry, picking out a black onyx necklace and earrings. The phone rang. It was Kat on the other line.
"Hi, Beth. We're about to rent some movies and get some Chinese. Why don't you come over and join us?"
"Sorry, I can't. I have a date."
Kat's heart stopped. "A date? Since when? With whom?"
"Emma, from the department. She asked me a few days ago and I said 'yes.'"
"Why didn't you tell me sooner? Well, where are you going and what are you doing? What is she like? What does she look like?"
"I wasn't sure how to tell you. She is another professor at the university. She is a very nice woman. We're going out to dinner and a jazz club and it's none of your business."
Kat had to force herself not to cry. "I guess not. You're right. I'm not used to it."
"I know and I'm sorry if this hurts you. But, we both have to move on. Can you please wish me luck?"
Kat swallowed the lump in her throat. "Good luck. Have fun." She wiped the tears from her eyes.
The teacher hung up the phone, distracted. She decided on a pair of black pumps. Beth looked at herself in the mirror while she sprayed perfume on her wrists and neck. 'Not bad.' The phone ringing again caught her attention. "Hello."
"Hi, Beth. I'm at the gate. Can you buzz me in?"
"Hi, Emma. Sure. Come on in."
Emma rang the doorbell and was greeted at the door with a smile. She held out a large floral bouquet. "Hi. You're beautiful."
The blonde teacher smiled and appraised her date in a tan suit. "You're quite lovely yourself. These flowers are gorgeous, thank you. Why don't you come in for a minute and I'll put these in some water?"
Emma stepped into the house and looked around. "This place is amazing."
"Where are the girls?"
"They're at Kat's for the weekend."
"That's convenient, isn't it?"
She put the vase of flowers on the kitchen table. "Yes it is. I'm all done. Let's go."
Emma smiled and offered her arm, which Beth accepted. The two women walked out the door, arm in arm. As they approached the car, Kat and the girls drove by. Kat couldn't take her eyes off Beth, who was stunning. She watched Emma open the door and the smile on Beth's face. She felt her heart tear. The girls noticed too.
Presley was angry. "Who is that with Mom and where are they going?"
Kat answered, "Your Mom is on a date. That is a friend of hers from the university."
Presley protested. "She can't go out on a date. She's supposed to be with you."
Scout looked confused. "Am I gonna have another Mom?"
Kat's temper was short. "Your mother has every right to date. We aren't married anymore. You can't expect her spend all her time with us. Just don't worry about it, okay?"
Scout questioned, "But....?"
Kat didn't let her finish. She raised her voice, "Leave your mother alone. It's none of our business. Don't ask anymore questions."
The car became very quiet. The singer heard her younger daughter sniffling and crying softly in the back. She turned to her other daughter sitting beside her, looking out the window. She felt badly about her reaction to their questions.
She pulled the SUV over to the side of the road and turned to them. "I'm sorry girls. I didn't mean to snap at you. Your Mom has been alone for over a year. I left her alone a lot when she and I were together. I made your mother very sad. She deserves to be happy. I didn't make her happy, which is why we split up. Your mother and I have worked very hard to become friends. I want her to be happy. She's a beautiful woman and there are lots of women who will want to spend time with her."
Presley looked at her mother. "You still love her, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. We had something very special and wonderful, which is why we had you girls. But, it's over. Sometimes, it's hard for me to face that. I'm sorry I took it out on you two."
"I'm sorry you're sad Mom."
The parent responded to her daughter. "Thanks Presley. But, I'll be fine. So, let's get some movies; the funnier, the better."
Beth enjoyed spending the evening with her date. Emma was intelligent, attractive, and very easy to be with. Beth had forgotten what it was like to be out with another woman like this. After dinner at Mezzaluna, the couple went to listen to some live jazz. Conversation came easily and Beth found herself attracted to her date. At the end of the evening, Emma walked the blonde to her door.
"I really had a great time Beth. You're a beautiful, sweet, and brilliant woman. I'd really like to see you again." The tall blonde held the smaller woman's hands.
Beth smiled softly. "I'd like that too."
Emma leaned down and kissed her date gently. "I'll see you at school Monday."
"Goodnight, Emma. Thanks for a great night. Bye."
After the girls went to sleep, Kat sat in her room with a pencil, a paper, and her guitar.
"Face of an angel; pretty eyes that shine.
I lie awake at night, wishing you were mine.
I'm standing here holding the biggest heartache in town
Whenever you come around.
I get weak in the knees; and I lose my breath.
Oh I try to speak but the words won't come
I'm so scared to death.
And when you smile that smile, the world turns upside down
Whenever you come around.
I feel so helpless; I feel just like a kid.
What is it about you that keeps my feelings hid?
I wish I could tell you, but the words can't be found
Whenever you come around.
I get weak in the knees and I lose my breath.
Oh I try to speak but the words won't come
I'm so scared to death.
And when you smile that smile
The world turns you upside down
Whenever you come around.
Whenever you come around."
Chapter 5-Lover Please
Two months had passed and Kat was becoming accustomed to the idea of Beth being involved with Emma. The girls still hadn't met their mother's girlfriend, but the family spent less and less time together as Beth spent more time with the new woman in her life. Kat died a little more each time the couple went out. The one saving grace was that the women hadn't made love yet.
The music store was doing very well and Kat played with Lainie's group every Tuesday night. Presley and Scout were finishing up the school year and Kat was about to celebrate her first year of sobriety. She still went to her meetings at least once or twice a week.
Beth was finishing her paperwork for the summer, when Emma walked through her office door. An instant smile came to Beth's face.
The taller woman shut the door and Beth walked into her open arms. "Hey there, sweetheart. How's your morning going?"
Beth had her arms around Emma's waist. "I'll be glad when I get this paperwork turned in." She leaned up and placed a kiss on soft lips. "I'm so happy to see you."
Emma grinned. "I'm happy to see you too. I had a great idea this morning and I want to run it by you. What do you think about a romantic getaway at a bed and breakfast in Gruene this weekend? We can leave Friday and be back on Sunday."
Beth kissed her again. "I like it. Kat has the girls this weekend, so it works out well. We can celebrate being done with the semester."
"That's not all I want to celebrate. I want to make love with you so badly."
Beth's body became tense, which wasn't lost on the other teacher. "Talk to me. Why did you stiffen up when I mentioned making love?"
"Honestly, I'm scared. Kat is the only woman I've ever been with. I haven't been with her for over a year. What if I'm not exciting enough?"
Emma embraced her tightly. "It'll be alright baby. We'll go slowly and I have no doubt that we are going to be beautiful together."
"Thank you, that makes me feel better. But, to warn you, I may need more reassurance."
Emma smiled. "Anytime."
"If you'll excuse me, I need to call Kat to make sure this weekend isn't a problem."
Emma kissed her quickly before walking out. "Lunch today?"
"Sounds good. I'll meet you at your office at twelve-thirty."
Beth called Kat at the store. Kat was in a good mood. "Hey 'Scilla, how's your day going?"
"So far so good. You have the girls this weekend, right?"
"Yep. What do you have in mind?"
"I'm going out of town for the weekend with Emma and I wanted to make sure you had the girls."
Kat's heart ripped in half. "Where are you going?"
Kat swallowed hard. "Yes. I have the girls. Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes, of course I do. Why wouldn't I?"
"Because......I..." Kat wanted to tell her she loved her, but lost her nerve.
"Because why Kat?"
"Nothing. I hope you have a good time."
Beth could hear the pain in Kat's voice. The pain she heard made her ache. She had to admit to herself that even though her relationship with Emma was pleasant and sweet, the depth couldn't come close to the love she shared with Kat. Beth had to remind herself that they could never be together again. It would never work. She hurt too badly the first time and was afraid she wouldn't make it through a second breakup with the singer.
Kat continued, "Listen, I've got a customer. I need to go. I'll pick up the girls on Friday. It's their last day of school."
"Thanks, I'll talk to you tonight. I'll be there at five to pick up the girls."
"That's fine. Bye."
Kat hung up the phone and left the girl at the counter in charge of the front while she went back to her office. With the door shut, she broke down. She wanted a drink. She looked at the pictures of her daughters and Beth on her desk. She knew they were counting on her to remain sober. She called her sponsor and told him about what happened and how much she wanted a drink. The gentle man comforted her and helped talk her down. When Beth came to get the girls, the storeowner could neither speak to nor look at the teacher.
Kat was grateful to her group of musician friends for taking her mind off her problems. She lost herself in the music as she played the mandolin and took turns singing harmonies and melodies. She played as if her mandolin were on fire. Kat closed her eyes and freed her pain. Between songs, the singer was quiet and a little withdrawn. During a break, Lainie spoke to her.
"Hey Kat, you don't seem yourself. Is something wrong?"
"Beth is spending a romantic weekend away with her girlfriend, which means she's going to be sleeping with her. I can't stand the thought of another woman touching Beth. In my heart, she's still my wife."
"Have you told her this?
"No. It took us too long to become friends. I don't want to make things harder than they have to be. I want her to be happy and I want us to raise our girls together. Besides, she's obviously over me."
"Are you sure?"
"You've been apart for a year. You haven't been on one date. I think you need to find a nice woman and ask her out. You never know what could come of it. Let your heart feel some joy again."
"How am I going to do that? Where do I go to meet women?"
"Look at Natalie over there. She has a huge crush on you. She's sweet and pretty. She's a hell of a fiddler. Ask her out to dinner. Allow yourself to think about someone else."
Kat exhaled. "I don't know."
"Just think about it, okay?"
The singer nodded. "I will. C'mon it looks like they're about to get started again."
Kat led the group in a mournful version of "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry." The group then moved into a fast-paced bluegrass tune. Kat watched Natalie. She seemed like a nice woman. She was cute and a great musician. Kat knew she needed something to take her mind off Beth. After the session, she walked up to the thirty-something fiddler.
"Hi Natalie, you really did a great job tonight. You're a great musician."
The red-haired woman grinned, flattered. "Thanks. You really flew through those songs. You were wonderful."
Kat smiled. "Thanks. Would you like to go get some coffee or something to eat?"
Natalie beamed. "Yeah I would."
During dinner, Kat noticed how friendly the other musician was and how easy it was to talk to her. She found herself smiling and even feeling better for a minute or so. The singer made plans to have dinner with her new friend the following Tuesday night. She was surprised to find that she was actually looking forward to it.
Friday weighed heavily on Kat's mind throughout the week. She dreaded that night because it meant that Beth would be lost to her.
She picked up the girls and went straight home instead of to the store. The raindrops pouring down were like the tears that lingered in her eyes. Kat was distracted by the pain. She stared off into space while the girls talked about what they would do that night. They were excited about being out of school for the summer.
Late that afternoon, Beth knocked on the door. Kat opened it and had to resist the temptation to fall at the blonde's feet.
The teacher was obviously in a good mood. "How are my girls?"
The girls looked at their mother and waved. Each answered, "Hi Mom." "Hey, Mom."
"Did you two have a good day? Do you have your report cards?"
The girls brought the grade sheets to their mother. The teacher looked them over. "Both of you did well. I'm very proud of you. We'll celebrate on Sunday night when I return. Do you have any special plans for this weekend?"
Presley answered, "Not yet."
Beth smiled. "I wanted to stop by to see you two before I left. I'm leaving the number here on the table. Call me if anything comes up. I'll be home Sunday afternoon. Y'all have fun."
Kat tried to smile. "We will."
"Good. I need to pick up Emma."
Kat's heart was breaking as she watched the blonde hug their daughters. Her eyes filled with tears. She was dying to ask Beth not to go. " Beth...I don't..." She struggled with her words. "Please...."
Beth tried to figure out what her ex-lover was trying to say. "What? Tell me."
She swallowed her feelings and said, "Please be careful. The roads are a mess."
"I will. I'll see y'all on Sunday."
They could both sense that something was changing between them. Beth opened the door and walked out into the rain. Kat paced in front of the door trying to figure out what to do. Finally, she let her heart take over. She ran out into the pouring rain, just as Beth was pulling away. Beth stopped the car and rolled down the window. Beth looked at her, confused and annoyed at the interruption. "What is it?"
With tears in her eyes and her heart in her hands, Kat pleaded, "Don't go. Don't do this."
Beth stepped out of the car and had to shout over the rain. "What are you talking about? Why not?"
"Because we love each other. We were meant to be together. We aren't meant to be with anyone else. I don't want you to make love to anyone else. I want to make love with you. I've changed 'Scilla. I'm solid as a stone; you know I am. You used to say that I was your hero. Give me the chance to be that again. I'm right here and I'm not leaving anymore. Give us one more chance. Don't go away with Emma. "
"Why are you doing this to me? Why now? We've talked about this before. I can't face the pain again. How can you do this to me?"
"I love you Beth. I need you. We belong together. I know you believe it too."
The angry blonde began to argue more when Kat placed her hands on her cheeks and pulled her into a kiss. Electricity went through both women as the rain poured down on them, drenching them. Beth melted against Kat as the kiss deepened and continued for several minutes. They were home. For Beth, it was a place she was afraid to go. Emma was safe and she didn't want to feel out of control again. The teacher pulled out of the kiss. The women stood breathlessly in the rain with their foreheads pressed together. Kat was the first to speak with tears pouring down her cheeks, mingling with the raindrops.
"You still love me. I could feel it in the way you kissed me back."
Beth shook her head. "I can't do this. I have to go." She climbed into her truck and pulled away. Kat stood in the driveway watching the love of her life drive off in the rain. Beth cried as she watched her heart's desire standing alone in the pouring rain.
When the truck was out of sight, Kat walked back into the house, broken and crushed. The girls had been watching out the window.
Presley was the first to comfort her mother. "It's going to be alright Mom. I promise. She loves you too. She'll realize it."
Kat tried to put on a brave face. "Thank you, honey. Why don't you guys put a pizza in the oven? I'm going to get dried off."
Scout approached her mother. "I love you, Mom." She wrapped her arms around her rain-soaked mother.
Kat held the little girl tightly, kissing the top of her head. "Baby, that means the world to me. Thank you so much. I love you both too. I'll be back downstairs. Pick a movie and we can watch it."
Kat walked into her bedroom and looked at the wedding picture on her dresser. She wanted a drink. She thought about the two girls in the living room. She exhaled deeply and began to change her clothes. She spotted her guitar in the corner and started playing out her feelings in the key of E. She picked up a pen and wrote down the words as they came out.
"A shot in the dark I woke up to find
You had broke all the rules
And you changed your mind
Didn't I love you good
Didn't I love you right
Tell me where are you going dressed to kill tonight
Oh this one's gonna hurt like hell
Answer my prayer
Answer the phone
Think twice about it baby
Turn around and come on home
Lover stop Lover don't
Lover stop Lover, lover please
It's the same old tune
I have sung before
It's the same old game
It's just a different score
If there was just one thing
I could call my own
It would be your love
That's sinking like a stone
Oh this one's gonna hurt like hell
Answer my prayer
Answer the phone
Think twice about it baby
Turn around and come on home
Lover stop Lover don't
Lover stop Lover, lover please
And they hold you like I want to
And they give you what I want to
And they take it like I want to
And they make it and they break it
Why must you reject me
Why can't you protect me
Answer my prayer
Answer the phone
Think twice about it baby
Turn around and come on home
Lover stop Lover don't
Lover stop Lover, lover please."
Kat looked over her words and wiped the tears from her eyes. She laid the wedding picture of her and Beth face down on the dresser.
She walked downstairs to the living room and sat down with her daughters. Throughout the evening, the girls tried to make their mother smile. They watched several comedies that night, as the rain continued to pour.
An hour away, in a quiet, candlelit room, two new lovers were beginning a slow exploration of one another. Emma was gentle and loving. "God, Beth, you are so beautiful."
Beth smiled shyly. The words were exactly what she wanted to hear but the voice was wrong. Long fingers caressed her soft skin, but they were too smooth. Where were the callused fingertips? The lips were strong and tender, but where was the knowing command of the kiss? The teacher looked into the brown eyes of her partner. The eyes were supposed to be blue. The body lying on top of hers was light and warm, but it took a minute to get into position. This body didn't fit with hers. Her heart was screaming out that this was the wrong lover. Her heart ached for the lover who knew her body so well. She longed for the husky whispers in her ear. She needed the long black hair cascading over her breasts. She didn't fit this new lover. This wasn't working. The heat and passion of Kat's kiss was burned in her heart, in her mind, and most of all, in her soul. Beth kept seeing the despair in her ex-wife's eyes as she drove away. She shook her head and put her hand against Emma. "I can't."
Emma looked at her confused. "What?"
"I'm sorry. I can't do this. I'm still in love with Kat. I want Kat. I need Kat."
Emma sat back and began to cry. "I was afraid this would happen. I've fallen in love with you. How could you forget what she did to you?"
"She's changed. I can't explain it. You are so sweet and I care about you deeply. But my soul is crying out for Kat. I need to go home."
"Can it wait until morning? It's pouring out and it's late."
Beth shook her head. "I'm sorry. I need to go now. I feel as if I don't see her right this minute, my heart will stop."
Emma sadly nodded her head. "Alright, let's get dressed and pack."
The teacher looked at the jilted woman gratefully. "Thank you. Again, I am so sorry I did this to you. I really wanted tonight to happen."
"So did I."
A while later, Kat was awakened by a pounding on the front door. She looked at the clock. 'What the hell? Who could have made it through the security gates?' She opened the door and found Beth standing in the rain. "What are you doing here?"
"Damn you, Kat Green."
Kat was confused. "Get in here. What did I do?" She pulled the teacher into the house.
"This." Beth reached up and placed her lips on the singer's in a demanding kiss. Kat wrapped her arms around the drenched woman in her arms.
After many breathless kisses, Kat pulled back. "What's going on? Why did you do that? Why are you mad at me?"
"Because I was with a very sweet, kind woman and I could have had a nice, comfortable relationship with her. You and your damn kiss. You showed me that I may want nice and easy but I need you. You are my soulmate. I never stopped loving you even though I wish I had. You scare the hell out of me. You showed me in that kiss, that I can't be happy or satisfied with anyone but you."
Kat kissed her again. Both women began to cry. The singer pleaded. "Don't play with me 'Scilla. I couldn't stand it."
Beth looked into Kat's eyes. "I've never been more serious. I love you E."
The nickname was music to the singer's well-trained ear. "You haven't called me that in over a year. I love you too."
The women held one another tightly, crying. Kat noticed Beth shivering. "Oh honey, you must be cold. You're all wet."
They both laughed. Beth teased, "I'm not cold. But, I am wet."
Kat grinned wickedly. "Then, let's get you out of those clothes and get in bed." She leaned down and began to kiss the moist neck.
Beth was on fire with the familiar touch. "No. I don't want to rush things. Besides, if the girls find me in your bed tomorrow morning, they'll be so excited and I don't want to raise their hopes until we're sure."
Kat agreed. "I'm not letting you leave my arms tonight."
"I won't argue with that."
The taller woman chuckled. "Go up and get something out of my drawers. I'll make some coffee and we can talk. There's still a lot for you to tell me about tonight. I want to know how you came to this conclusion."
Beth stole a last kiss before going upstairs. She looked through Kat's things and found a baggy t-shirt and pajama bottoms. She noticed the picture frame that was face down on the dresser. She lifted it and saw their wedding picture. She noticed sheets of paper with words and chords. She read the painful words. New tears came to her eyes when she realized how much her wife was hurting. She put the paper back down and went downstairs.
She walked up behind Kat, who was making coffee. The tall woman turned around in the loving arms. The singer ran her hands through the smaller woman's hair.
Loaded with coffee and chocolate chip cookies, the two women cuddled on the couch, and talked about Beth's night with Emma.
Kat lazily ran her hands over the familiar body. "I want to date you again. I want to woo you. We had so much fun the first time. I want to do it all over again. I want to make you fall in love with me. I want to give you the romance you deserve. I love your smile and I'd do anything to make that come out."
Beth brought the larger hand to her lips. "I love that idea. You are the sweetest woman."
"And I'm yours."
The blonde giggled. "That's the best part."
"Let's get your parents to watch the kids tomorrow or should I say tonight. I want to take you out. Maybe we can go dancing."
Beth grinned. "I love it. It's a date."
Kat whispered softly into her ear, "I'll pick you up at seven."
The teacher nodded. "That sounds perfect. I can't wait."