Three Days by S. Lee

Three Days

by S. Lee

Summary: In the romantic first story of a trilogy, Kat Green is a singer/songwriter on the verge of super-stardom. She is away for weeks at a time, missing her pregnant partner, Beth desperately. Kat comes home from being away on the road for a visit and the couple have three glorious days to reclaim and reconnect their love. In the second part of the story thirteen years have passed and Kat has become a mega-superstar. She and Beth have two daughters. Kat succumbs to the temptations of extreme success. Can the couple’s marriage survive as Kat deals with her demons?

Part 1

Standing under the bright lights, Kat Green pounded on her guitar, and sang her heart out on the hot stage in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Wearing a brown, lace-up, sleeveless shirt with faded jeans, and running around the stage barefoot, she rocked the enormous crowd. Her band backed her up and the audience screamed as she sang a cover of “Honkeytonk Woman.” She was on the verge of stardom, touring as an opening act for one of the biggest names in music. She had recently signed a deal with a major record label and was making her dream come true, but she missed the one at home waiting for her. She finished her set and went offstage. She wiped the sweat off her face and looked down at her watch. She wanted to call home, but she knew Beth would already be asleep. That night, she was going home for a few days and couldn’t wait. She hadn’t seen Beth in over a month and missed her desperately.
The red-headed legend came up to her on his way to the stage and said in his nasal twang, “You had a great set. Why don’t you come out and sing a few with me?”

Kat was blown away at the thought of singing with her hero. “I’d love to.”

He smiled, putting his hand around her shoulder and squeezing in a fatherly kind of way. “Hang out close by and I’ll call you up on stage.”

Kat grinned. “Thanks. I’ll be right here.”

When given the cue, Kat went out on stage and the band started the upbeat song.

The older man began, “Love doesn’t come with a contract.

You give me this I give you that

It’s scary business

Your heart and soul is on the line

Baby why else would I be standing round here so tongue tied.”

Kat joined her singing partner, “If I knew what I was doing

I’d be doing it right now

I’d be the best damn poet

Silver words out of my mouth

Well my words may not be magic

But they cut straight to the truth

So if you need a lover and a friend

Baby I’m in, I’m in, I’m in, Baby I’m in.”

Kat sang the next verse alone, “Baby come on in, the water’s fine.

I’ll be right here

You take your time

Just let me hold you

And we’ll both take that leap of faith

It’s like I told you there’s no guarantee when you feel this way.”

The two musicians sang together, “If I knew what I was doing

I’d be doing it right now

I would be the best damn poet

Silver words out of my mouth

Well my words may not be magic

But they cut straight to the truth

So if you need a lover and a friend

Baby I’m in, I’m in, I’m in.

Baby come here next to me

I’ll show you how good it can be

I’ll breathe each breath you breathe

I can pour out everything I am

If I knew what I was doing

I’d be doing it right now

I’d be the best damn poet

Silver words out of my mouth

Well my words may not be magic

But they cut straight to the truth

Now if you need a lover and a friend

Now if you need a lover and a friend

Baby I’m in, I’m in, I’m in, I’m in

Baby come here next to me

I’ll show you how good it can be

I’ll breathe each breath you breathe

I can pour out everything I am

Baby come here next to me

Baby come here, Baby come here.”
The crowd cheered and the duo sang three more songs. Kat waved and walked offstage. Before leaving the stadium, Kat took a quick shower in the dressing room to wash off the sweat from performing under the stage lights. When she finished, she ran out to her tour bus where her band had the motor running to get out of Houston as soon as possible. She wasn’t the only one in a hurry to get home to Austin.

She felt alive as the bus pulled into town around two in the morning. Kat caught a ride home with one of her band mates. She quietly walked into the dark house. She set her guitar and bags down by the door. The singer crept to her bedroom and saw the most beautiful sight. Beth, round and seven months pregnant with their first baby, was on her side sleeping. Kat kicked off her shoes and crawled into bed. She whispered into her partner’s ear, “Wake up baby.”

The sleeping woman didn’t stir. The singer grinned and wrapped her arm around the bulging stomach. “Wake up.”

With her eyes still closed, Beth smiled at the comforting feel of her lover against her back. Without turning around she said, “I have to warn you. My wife is going to be home after being away for such a very long time and she’s quite jealous and tough. If she catches you here, I can’t be held responsible for what she would do to you.” With that, she turned around to cuddle with her partner.

Kat brushed the blonde hair off Beth’s face. She kissed her softly on the lips. “Hey there ‘Scilla.”

Beth brushed her lips against her lover’s. “Welcome home E.”

Kat was an Elvis fanatic and these names were their little pet names for one another. She slunk down and lifted Beth’s shirt, rubbing the protruding belly. She kissed the taut skin softly. “Hey there little E. How’s my baby?” She felt the baby move under her hand. She laughed. “There ya go. That’s my little one. Mama’s here now. I’ve missed you and your Mommy. Have you been good?”

Beth smiled watching her partner interact with their unborn child. The two women had been together since their freshman year of college and they wanted this baby very badly. She ran her hands lovingly over Kat’s head. The performer continued to talk to their baby, “You can go on back to sleep now. We’ll play tomorrow. Your Mommy needs some attention now. I love you little one.”

Kat then moved back up to her partner, kissed her deeply, then wrapped her arms around her. “I’ve missed you honey, so very much,” she whispered.

Beth smiled and burrowed into Kat’s chest. “I’ve missed you too. It’s good to have you home. I’ve been lonely without you.”

The singer touched her wife’s face. “You look so beautiful. I can’t believe how much you’ve changed since I saw you last. How are you feeling?”

“I still have morning sickness some days. My feet and back are killing me, I’ve been nesting like crazy and your child loves to do the Cotton-Eyed-Joe in the middle of the night; other than that I’m great.”

Kat kissed the top of her lover’s blonde head. “I hate that I’m not here to share it all with you. There’s so much I’m missing.”

Beth reassured her partner, “Honey, we’ve been together for ten years. The entire time, you’ve been a touring singer and musician. I knew that going into this marriage and I knew that going into this pregnancy. We didn’t get pregnant by accident. I knew what it was going to be like. Your music videos are shown regularly. You have your own booth at Fan Fair and you’re touring with a country music legend. Your songs are played on the radio now. Your career is taking off. I’m very proud of you and I’m the envy of lesbians everywhere for being married to you.”

“Yeah, but is that enough consolation on those nights when you’re sleeping alone or when you get a midnight craving and there’s no one here to run and fetch it?”

Beth held her lover’s face in her hands. “Baby, your gift is one of the reasons I fell in love with you. I love you enough to let you live your dream. I can’t rein you in like that; you would be miserable. I love you and accept you just as you are.”

Kat kissed her deeply, and touched her stomach. “I love you both so much.”

The teacher looked up at her lover. “Aren’t you tired?”

“I was until I got home. I could lie awake with you in my arms and talk to you like this all night. You are so beautiful. I just can’t say it enough.”

Beth smiled sheepishly. “God, you just take my breath away. You are so sweet. If you insist on holding me all night long, who am I to stop you?” Both women giggled. “How long are you going to be here?”

“Three days like usual. I’ve got the Backyard concert here on Friday night and then I’ve got to be in Oklahoma City the next day to meet back up with Willie.”

“Well then, it seems as if we need to make the best use of our time don’t we? Why don’t you get out of those clothes and show me how much you missed me?”

Kat grinned. “Gladly, darlin’.” The singer pulled off her t-shirt and unclasped her bra. She took off her shorts and boxers. She moved back to the bed to cradle her wife gently in her arms and softly touched her face. “I love the way you shine in the moonlight. You look even better than in my dreams.”

Beth chuckled. “You’ve been spending too much time on the road with a bunch of guys. It has clouded your judgment.”

Kat shook her head and brushed her lover’s cheek with the back of her hand. “No, you look like an angel, glowing and so full of life.” She lowered herself to Beth’s stomach and began to slowly lift the t-shirt and kiss her way up until she reached her wife’s mouth. Their lips parted and came together in a sweet, slow dance. Without speaking, they poured all of their love and devotion into their long kisses. After several minutes, the singer lowered herself and licked and sucked Beth’s swollen breasts, continually caressing her wife’s body. The smaller woman moaned her pleasure, as she ran her hands over her lover’s strong shoulders. Beth pressed her thigh between her wife’s legs. The taller woman held herself above her pregnant partner. Kat entered her lover gently, stroking her secret places. As she moved inside her wife, the singer rode the offered thigh. Sounds of passion filled the quiet house as the two women reconnected. Beth called out as she climaxed, “Oh yes! That’s it!” Those words drove the dark haired woman over the edge as she ground hard against Beth’s thigh, letting the force of her pleasure claim her. Afterward, the two women laid naked, wrapped around one another.

Beth ran her hands along the warm body next to her. “I’ve missed you. I hate sleeping alone.”

Kat kissed the top of her wife’s head and caressed her blossoming stomach. “I think that’s when I miss you the most. I lie there in my bunk, or hotel bed thinking about you and the baby. I just ache for you.”

The teacher smiled. “I play your CD for the baby all the time. I rest the headphones across my stomach. I want him or her to recognize your voice. Your voice seems to calm the little munchkin.”

Kat grinned. “Really?”

Beth nodded. “Yes, and I love it too.”

The tall woman lowered herself to lay her head on the other woman’s stomach. She began to softly sing as she rubbed the baby’s home.

“Wise men say only fools rush in

But I can’t help falling in love with you

Shall I stay

Would it be a sin

If I can’t help falling in love with you
Like a river flows surely to the sea

Darling so it goes

Some things are meant to be

Take my hand, take my whole life too

‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea

Darling so it goes

Some things are meant to be

Take my hand, take my whole life too

For I can’t help falling in love with you

For I can’t help falling in love with you”

Kat could feel the movement of her unborn child. She looked up and saw her wife sleeping peacefully. She climbed back up to her pillow and wrapped her arms around Beth, falling into a deep sleep.

Late that morning, the singer could feel her partner stirring against her. She opened her eyes and looked down at her very pregnant wife. “Good morning baby. How do you feel?”

“Like I’m going to throw up. Could you please get me some crackers? Quick!”

Kat jumped up, rushed to the kitchen, and began tearing it apart. “Crackers…crackers…where are the damn crackers?” She grabbed the bag and hurried back to the bedroom. She ran her hands through Beth’s strawberry blonde hair while the woman munched on the crackers. “You feeling better sweetheart?”

Beth nodded and settled against her body. “Bless you. I usually have some on the nightstand, but I finished the package yesterday morning.”

Kat smiled and rubbed her partner’s belly. “You poor thing. It is kind of late for you to eat, isn’t it? How does breakfast in bed sound?”

Beth smiled. “That sounds incredible. I am so glad I cancelled classes for today. The baby and I would like some potato latkes and a strawberry cheesecake shake from Katz’s Deli.”

Kat giggled. “Really? That’s what you want?”

Beth nodded. “Yes, with applesauce and sour cream.”

Grinning, Kat said, “Anything else my dear?”

“Just you here in this bed, beside me, naked. I’ve missed you. I want to spend as much time together as possible.”

“I do too. I’m looking forward to time off after this next month. I want to spend time with you and our little one. I’m glad I insisted we record the next CD here.”

Beth snuggled closer. “I am too. It’s going to be nice having you here for months at a time.”

Kat ran her fingers through her partner’s short blonde hair. “I can’t wait. Think you can handle having me underfoot?”

The teacher laughed. “I’ll tough it out.”

Giggling, Kat kissed her playfully. “I’m going to call in our order, then run and pick it up. Do we have to be anywhere today or can we spend the day in bed?”

“I like the way you think. But yes, I have a doctor’s appointment at three. I want you to come with me. Other than that, it’s just the two of us.”

“Hey, wild horses couldn’t keep me away. You just stay here and be comfy. Munch on your crackers; I’ll be back shortly.”

That afternoon, the couple looked around their favorite bookstore. As they were looking through the lesbian romances, Kat turned to the blonde. “Honey, I was thinking. If this next CD does well, I’m going to get a nicer bus. I want you and the baby to come on tour with me. You can take a sabbatical from the university. Look at these books. I know you can write better than some of this stuff. You’re simply brilliant. You’ve always wanted to write full-time.”

She took Beth’s hands. “I’m going to be around for almost a year recording the new CD. But, after that we can go on tour. I hate being away from you. This way, we can raise the baby together on the road, at least until he or she starts school. I don’t want to miss anything.”

Beth smiled and reached up to touch Kat’s face. “I love you. That sounds like a great idea. We can work on it this next year and make it happen.”

Kat grinned and kissed her wife tenderly. Suddenly Beth stepped back, holding her stomach. Kat looked down at her wife, concerned and placed her hand on her partner. “You ok?”

Beth nodded. “I’m fine. Your child is making its presence known.” She looked down at her stomach, rubbing the tight skin. “Hey there sweetheart. Are you trying to tell us something?”

Kat laughed when she felt the kicking of their unborn baby. “Little E. likes the idea of traveling around together. He or she can be my little guitar tech.”

Beth just rolled her eyes. “You are a mess.”

Kat softly pressed her lips to her partner’s . “C’mon darlin’. I think we need to get to the doctor’s office.”

In the doctor’s office, Kat sat beside the exam table. While holding the pregnant woman’ s hand, she watched the doctor measure her wife’s stomach. The doctor placed the stethoscope on Beth’s belly to hear the baby’s heartbeat.

She looked up at the two anxious women. “Would you like to hear it?”

They answered in unison, “YES!!”

Kat put the earpieces in her ears and grinned as she heard the sound of the tiny heart as it beat fast and strong. “Oh my God, I can hear it. It’s so fast.” She ran her hands in her wife’s hair. “That’s incredible baby.”

Beth giggled. “Hey, hand them over.”

Kat handed the stethoscope to the expectant mother, who immediately beamed with joy at the sound of the strong heart. “I love hearing that sound every time I come in here.”

The doctor smiled at the happy couple. “Ready to see the little munchkin?”

Kat looked at her wife, holding her hand. “Oh, yeah.”

Beth kissed her. “I wanted to surprise you. I thought you’d like to share it with me, so I scheduled the ultrasound for when you were here.”

“Thank you darlin’. I only got to see the pictures from the last one.”

The doctor led them to another room, where Kat helped her partner up onto the table.

The doctor turned to the mothers. “You’re going to love this. With this new technology, we can even see the baby’s face. Everything is so clear.”

Kat asked, “Can we see the baby’s gender?”

The pregnant woman looked up at her. “I thought we decided to wait.”

The singer was excited. “I know honey. But, now that I’m here and we can actually see, I just can’t wait. If you don’t want to see it, you can close your eyes. Please ‘Scilla?”

The blonde woman couldn’t say no to that. “Ok, ok. We’d both like to know.”

Kat smiled and kissed her wife on her head. “Thank you.”

The image of the baby came on the screen. The expectant parents were in awe.

The doctor pointed out, “There’s your baby’s face. There he or she is sucking its thumb.”

Kat’s eyes filled with tears as she watched her baby. She held Beth’s hand and stroked her hair. “Look at that. That’s amazing.” She leaned down to place a gentle kiss on her wife’s lips.

Beth looked up at Kat. “There’s our baby.”

The doctor smiled and scanned down. “Ok, ladies, you have a little girl.”

The two moms began to laugh and cry. The singer kissed her partner again. “She’s beautiful.” She looked up at the doctor. “Can we get pictures?”

The doctor nodded. “Sure.”

Beth looked at the screen and something suddenly occurred to her and she became serious. “Oh my God!”

Kat was frightened by her demeanor. “What’s wrong?”

The pregnant woman pointed at the screen. “It’s her. I know her. I’ve seen her.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The baby, I dream about the baby. She looks like the little baby girl that I dream about.”

Confused, the singer shook her head. “Start from the beginning.”

“I’ve been having dreams since we conceived her, even before we knew I was pregnant. The night she was conceived, I dreamed that I was sitting outside and I had this four-month old baby on my lap. She had a little bit of dark hair. I’ve had recurring dreams about her. That is her face. I mean we can’t tell for sure, but you know what I mean. ” Beth began crying harder. “That’s the face in my dreams.”

Biting the inside of her lip, Kat looked at her wife intensely, as she contemplated what she heard. She ran her hand through her lover’s hair. “I don’t know what to say honey. Wow!”

The doctor looked at them. “Actually, that isn’t unusual. Studies have shown that a woman’s intuitive powers are heightened during pregnancy. I’ve had many patients who knew the gender of their baby before birth. I’ve heard this same story before. The mother and child are so in tune with one another. It’s as if two spirits share one body. It’s just part of the mysticism of pregnancy.”

The singer leaned down and kissed her partner’s wet cheek. “You are so amazing. I love you both.”

Beth wrapped her arm around her lover’s head as Kat kissed her. “I love you too.”

Kat held her partner’s hand all the way home. “Thank you, honey.”

Beth looked at her confused. “For what?”

Kat touched her stomach. “For having our little girl. I mean, it’s such a miracle. I can’t get over it. We’ve wanted this for so long. I can’t wait to hold her.”

Beth brought her wife’s hand to her lips. “I can’t believe that whole dream thing. It’s a girl. We’re having a little girl. I’ve never been happier.”

Kat grinned. “I’m at a loss for words to express my feelings right now.”

They walked in the house; Kat shut the door and kissed her wife deeply. Without breaking contact, she led the very pregnant woman across the hardwood floor and to the bedroom. She sat Beth on the bed and kneeled in front of her, between her legs. She raised her lover’s shirt and laid her head on her stomach. She kissed the round flesh. “Hey there baby girl. I love you very much and I promise you that you will always know that. I am going to be the best Mama in the world, next to your Mommy of course. I will never be too busy for you. I will always be your cheerleader and your shoulder to cry on. You can count on me.” The performer continued kissing the stomach while her lover ran her fingers through her hair. The kisses moved to other parts of Beth’s body. The singer lowered her partner’s shorts and panties. She placed the teacher’s legs on her shoulders and began kissing the inside of her partner’s thighs, caressing the soft skin.

Kat’s mouth began to water as she smelled her lover’s desire. Beth dropped her head back as she began to pant in anticipation. “Oh honey. I’ve wanted this for the last month. Don’t make me wait.”

Kat grinned and leaned in to taste. She gently licked along Beth’s slick folds. She fluttered her tongue in just the right spot, making her lover tremble. The singer entered her slowly, stroking with expert fingers. The teacher’s hips moved up and down as her wife made love to her. Beth’s orgasm washed over her, making her call out in pleasure. The performer slowed her movements as her lover’s body began to still. Kat laid her head on her lover’s thigh as Beth stroked her hair. Beth lifted her partner’s face and looked into her eyes. “Take off your clothes baby.”

Kat grinned and obeyed the command. She stood in front of her wife and pulled off her shirt, unclasped her bra, releasing her full breasts. She pulled down her shorts and panties slowly, teasing her partner. The pregnant woman pulled off her own shirt and bra, her anticipation growing. Beth pulled her wife to her and took her nipple into her mouth. Kat leaned into her lover, moaning at the sensation. She wrapped her arms around Beth’s head, holding her closer. Beth looked up at her lover. “Lay down.”

Kat did as she was told as Beth hovered over her. She leaned down and kissed her, and began moving down the singer’s body, leaving a hot, moist trail. Kat opened her legs inviting Beth inside. The pregnant woman entered her lover deeply as she sucked on the hard nipples. Kat lifted her hips. “Oh yes.” Beth moved in and out of her lover deeper and faster. Wetness coated her hand as she stroked the singer’s most intimate places. It didn’t take long to send her into the abyss.

Lying together; sated and happy, Kat ran her fingers lightly up and down Beth’s stomach. The dark haired singer felt a kick to her hand and both women giggled. She kissed the spot where the bump occurred. “Hey baby girl. I hope I didn’t disturb you in there. I was just showing your Mommy here how much I love her.”

Beth laughed and ran her hands through Kat’s hair. “So I take it you’re happy that we’re having a little girl?”

The tall singer pressed her lips against Beth’s. “Are you kidding? I couldn’t be happier. I would have been thrilled with a son too. The baby’s healthy; that’s all I really care about.”

“We need to settle on a name.”

Kat grinned. “Ok. I’ve been thinking and thinking about this. What about Presley Erin Green?”

Beth giggled. “Oh, no you don’t. You had to wear the black suit with the gold lame` jacket at our wedding. You begged and begged me to go to Graceland and Nashville for our honeymoon. We are not naming our daughter after Elvis.”

The singer pleaded, “Oh, please baby. I promise you can name our second child. This would mean so much to me. Think about it. It’s actually a beautiful name. Presley Erin Green. You can’t tell me it doesn’t have a ring to it.”

Beth shook her head. “Kat, honey, don’t even give me that look. You know what that look does to me.”

Kat held her hands. “Please sweetheart. I have no biological connection to this baby. This makes me feel more connected to her. Say it with me…Presley Erin Green.” The baby began to move around and kick.

Beth reactively grabbed her stomach. They both cackled. Kat kissed the belly again. “See there honey; she likes it. Let’s try it again.” She leaned down closer to the shaking belly. “Presley Erin, your Mama is talkin’ to you.” There was another kick and movement.

Beth put her hands across what used be her waist and spoke to the baby. “You stop that. I can see the writing on the wall now. You two are going to gang up on me all the time aren’t you?” The baby gave another kick. Kat rolled all over the bed, laughing hysterically. Beth threw her hands in the air. “Ok, ok, ok. I give in. Presley Erin it is.”

Kat captured her lover’s face between her hands. “Thank you so much ‘Scilla.” She kissed her deeply. She leaned down and pressed her lips against Beth’s belly. Kat settled back against the pillows on the bed and pulled her wife to lay against her side. “So, what would you like to do the rest of the evening?”

Beth giggled. “I don’t care as long as I don’t have to leave this bed and I get a back rub. I would like a snack though; your little Presley is hungry.”

Smiling, Kat said, “Ok, I can handle that. How about I go to the kitchen and get a snack, and then get a stack of movies? A little later, we can have some Chinese food delivered.”

“Mmmmm. That sounds perfect. Besides, since I agreed to name our baby after Elvis; and you are going to be gone for a month, you can be my little slave girl.”

“Oh I like that. We can get a costume and everything. Could be a lot of fun.”

Laughing, Beth agreed. “Yes, it could. Now get thee to the kitchen, slave, and bring me something.”

Kat stood, naked, and bowed to her mistress. “Yes ma’am and what would you like?”

“I have a craving for watermelon.”

Playfully, Kat asked, “With or without seeds?”

“Without I think, in small chunks.”

The singer nodded. “Yes, M’lady. Anything else?”

Beth thought for a moment. “Well, since you are bringing movies back with you, how about some popcorn and lemonade?”

“Yes ma’am. Thank you ma’am. At your service ma’am.” Kat walked away laughing.

The blonde called out to her partner. “Just be thankful I’m not craving homemade rice pudding.” She giggled at the thought. The expectant mother rubbed her belly. “I’ll let you in on a little secret. Your Mama is an Elvis nut. Actually, she’s just a nut. It’s something you’ll have to learn to deal with. But she loves you. We both do. You’re going to have a great life. Your Mama is a very special woman. I have loved her since I was eighteen. We’ve wanted you for so long. I’m your Mommy, but you and I already know each other. You’ve visited me in my dreams. We’re going to have so much fun together. There are so many things I want to show you and teach you. We’ll have plenty of time for that though. So you just keep hanging out and enjoy the accommodations. You’re my girl and I love you Presley Erin.” The baby moved under her touch, making her smile.

Kat returned with a stack of DVD’s and a tray full of goodies. She settled back in bed for a long night.

The couple laid in bed together, watching old episodes of “Xena:Warrior Princess”. The singer looked at her lover. “Do you want to call our parents and tell them about Presley?”

The pregnant woman shook her head. “Not yet. We can tell them tomorrow. I want to savor the news for tonight. I don’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone other than you.”

Kat kissed her on the head. “I agree. When do you have to be at the university tomorrow?”

“I need to be there a little after nine. I have three classes in the morning. I’m canceling my office hours tomorrow; so I should be done by one.”

“If you like, I’ll drop you off and then pick you up and we can do some shopping for the baby.”

Beth felt Kat’s forehead. “Are you feeling alright?”

The singer laughed. “Yes, honey, I’m fine. I want to go look at baby stuff with you. I don’t always get this chance. I want to go shopping for my baby girl. I intend to spoil her.”

Beth just grinned. “I love you, you crazy woman.”

Late that night, Kat woke up and watched her wife in peaceful sleep. She smiled as she felt the warm skin against her own. Words started popping into her head, along with phrases and melodies. She gently eased out of her lover’s arms, dressed, and walked into the living room. She picked up some paper and a pencil and began singing out lyrics.

“Wake up, whatcha been dreamin about?

I ain’t got a lot to say

But I could talk to you for hours”

‘Oh that’s good. I like that,’ she thought to herself. She picked up her guitar and began strumming out chords, with her pencil between her teeth, stopping to write out more words and chords as she went on. The words and notes flowed out of her. Beth stood at the living room door and smiled. She watched her partner sitting on the couch wearing her glasses, a pencil behind her ears; the guitar in her lap.

The blonde woman spoke. “I would ask you to come to bed, but I know you too well. You won’t be able to get back to sleep until you either run out of words or you finish.”

Kat looked up to see her wife smiling. “What was that honey?”

Beth laughed and walked over to the couch. “How’s it coming?”

Kat kissed her on the cheek. “It’s good. Did I wake you?”

The blonde laid her head on her wife’s shoulder. “No, I reached out for you and you weren’t there. Then I heard you in here and thought I’d check you out. I’ve always loved lying in bed, listening to you play in the other room.”

Kat looked at her. “I’ve always loved you.”

Beth smiled and pressed her lips against her lover’s. “You are the only woman I’ve ever loved. I’ll never forget the first time I saw you. We were both freshmen. I was walking through campus and you were sitting under a tree, playing your guitar and singing. Your long hair was in braids, and you were so cool with your sunglasses on.”

Kat smiled at the memory. “You didn’t talk to me those first couple of months. You stopped and listened with some other people, but you kept walking. I sat at that tree every day for a month, hoping to see you again. You would stop for a minute, listen and then walk on. Eventually I figured out that you passed that way every day. When you finally sat down to study at the fountain just a few feet away, I thought my heart would beat out of my chest.”

Beth laughed. “But, you never said a word. One day, I sat under the tree a few feet away.”

Kat interrupted. “I didn’t see you that day. I looked around my tree and there you were, against the tree behind me, reading a book. I stared at you for several minutes.”

“That’s when I happened to look up and I caught you watching me. When I did, you hid back behind your tree. I laughed so hard. I thought you were the cutest thing I had ever seen. You sang so beautifully. I would sit and study and listen to you. Listening to you is still one of my favorite things.”

Kat kissed her wife softly. “After staring at each other for a couple of months, you finally came up to me at Threadgill’s.”

“Well, what did you expect? You always had a crowd of men and women sitting around you, adoring you. I went there that night with some friends to hear some music. I had no idea you were playing.”

“You finally walked up between sets to talk to me.”

“Yes, you looked straight at me when you sang. My friends had to goad me into approaching you.”

“I was so glad they did. I was trying to get your attention. What a pair huh? You were a brainy English major with straight A’s and I was put on academic probation that first semester, and eventually dropped out because I never went to class. I spent all my time working at the music store, playing gigs until late at night, sleeping until noon, and falling in love with you.”

Beth wrapped her arm around Kat. “Ten years later, I’m still falling in love with you.”

Kat smiled and placed her hand on Beth’s stomach. “You are more beautiful now than I’ve ever seen you. You are a walking miracle to me. But, you need to get back to bed. I want you to be well rested.”

Beth nodded. “You’ll have to give me a little push.”

“I’ll do even better.” Kat stood up and helped her wife stand up. She led her to their bedroom and tucked her into bed. She sat next to Beth and kissed her head. “Go to sleep sweetheart. I’ll be in soon.”

Beth smiled. “Don’t be too long.”

“I won’t. Goodnight.” She went back into the living room and resumed her work. The song began to take shape as she wrote the bridge. She wrote the final chorus and played the song through. Pleased with her work, she set her guitar down and went back to bed.

The next morning, Kat drove Beth to the university, and kissed her gently as she got out of the car. “I’ll pick you up at one. I put a bottle of water and a snack in your bag.”

The professor just shook her head. “Could you be any more adorable? It’s good to have you home baby. Have fun and I’ll see you in a bit.”

“I love you ‘Scilla.”

“Love you E.”

Kat drove away, waving to her lover. She picked up her phone and called her fiddle player, asking him to meet her at the house to go over the new song. He arrived shortly after she did and she played the new song for him.

“What can you come up with to go along with this melody? I was thinking of something that kind of rolls smoothly over the syncopated rhythm of the guitar, that stresses on the downbeat. Back off when the vocals come in and then during the instrumental section before the bridge, the focus will be back on you.”

The fiddle player nodded. “Sure. Let’s go over it again.”

As Kat began the guitar introduction, David joined in, backing off to accompany the guitar and vocals. The two musicians played off one another, as music filled the empty house. After running through the song several times, the pair took a break.

“Damn, that’s nice.”

Grinning, the singer said, “Thanks. I want to perform it at the show tomorrow night. I wrote it for Beth and I want her to hear it the first time I do it live.”

Dave just shook his head. “You gotta stop that. You make us look bad in front of our wives.”

Kat laughed. “We’ll rehearse it tomorrow before the performance. The guys should pick it up quickly.”

“Great. Are you going to want to keep it as a part of the song lineup?”

Kat nodded. “Yeah, if it does well tomorrow night. I’d like to put it on the new CD as well.”

“How’s the baby?”

Kat beamed. “We’re having a little girl. Beth is just so beautiful, it just blows me away. Stay right here; there’s something I want you to see.” She went into the bedroom to get the sonogram photo. She walked back into the living room and handed the picture to her band mate. “Check this out. This is Presley Erin Green.”

Dave laughed. “Well, would you look at that. Congrats. I guess you got Beth to agree to the name.”

“It wasn’t easy, but yes, I did.”

Dave looked down at his watch. “I need to go. Susan has a list of things she wants me to do before we go back out on the road.”

Kat shook her head and chuckled. “I’d get to it then if I were you.”

Laughing, Dave put his fiddle in the case. After he left, Kat made calls to her manager and her sister, who was also her accountant. She left early to pick up her wife, stopping to buy one red and one pink rose.

When Beth stepped out of her classroom, Kat was standing outside, holding the roses. The professor grinned and the dark haired woman held out her arm. The smaller woman accepted her arm and the roses.

Beth held the flowers to her nose. “These are lovely.”

“The red is for you. The pink is for little Presley.”

The smaller woman smiled. “That is so beautiful. Thank you.”

The two women had lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon at Baby Depot, choosing clothes, decorations, and other necessities. Kat picked up a breast pump and turned it around, looking at it.

“Beth honey, how is this thing supposed to work?”

The pregnant woman laughed. “You slip the cone onto the breast, with the nipple centered. Then, you either pump or flip the switch and it sucks the milk out of the breast, into a bottle. This one is a hand pump. I want one with batteries and an electric adapter.”

Kat picked up a battery-powered pump and turned it on. She immediately threw it back on the shelf as if on fire. “Aren’t you afraid of power surges? What if it gets stuck and won’t turn off?”

Beth laughed so hard, she had to hold onto her partner for support. “That won’t happen. It will work just fine.”

“Those things are scary. I’m glad it’s not me.”

Still laughing, Beth said, “Yeah, me too. Come on ya big lug. Let’s go look at baby monitors.”

As they were looked at the latest technological baby monitoring gadgets, a woman came up to Kat. “Excuse me; you’re Kat Green, aren’t you?”

Smiling, the singer said. “Yes, I am.”

“Could I have your autograph? I just saw your newest video on TV this morning. Did you shoot it at Gruene Hall?”

Kat signed the woman’s paper. “Yes we did. And what’s your name?”

“Karen.”

The dark haired singer finished the autograph and held out her hand to the other woman. “Karen, it’s nice to meet you. This is my partner, Beth.”

The two women exchanged greetings. The fan began to walk away. “Thanks Kat. I’m looking forward to your concert tomorrow.”

“Thank you Karen. I hope you enjoy it.”

Kat had a huge grin on her face, and was doing everything she could to contain her excitement. Beth smiled and shook her head. “Oh Lord, now we’ll never be able to get that big head of yours out the door.”

“Oh, ha ha ha. You’re such a smart ass.”

The pregnant woman teased, “And you like my smart ass.”

“Ok, well that’s beside the point. But that’s been happening more often. I can’t imagine that I would ever get used to it.”

Beth rolled her eyes. “Come on E; let’s go pay for all this stuff.”

The women drove home in a car full of baby gear. Kat noticed Beth’s silence. She looked over at the passenger seat to see her partner sleeping. She smiled and put her hand on her wife’s knee. The singer kissed her cheek when they pulled up to the house, waking the pregnant woman gently. Beth sleepily opened her eyes and looked at her lover. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fall asleep like that.”

“It’s ok honey. Why don’t you go in and lie down and I’ll bring all this stuff in and take care of dinner?”

“I would love that. One more thing though. Could you help me out of the car?”

Kat chuckled and placed her lips against her partner’s knuckles. “Of course, my love.” She walked to the other side of the car and took Beth’s hands, pulling her gently. The singer opened the front door of their home for her lover. The tired woman walked in holding her back. “I swear. I don’t walk anymore; I waddle.”

The taller woman just shook her head. “Sweetheart, you’re having a baby; it’s expected. I happen to think you are perfection.”

Beth laughed. “You are so good for my ego.”

Later that night, Kat sat behind her wife, rubbing her back and shoulders. The pregnant woman melted into her lover’s touch. “God, honey, that feels so incredible.”

The taller woman wrapped her arms around her partner, and laid her hands on the protruding stomach, running circles around the taut skin. “Yes it does. I miss this when I’m gone. These quiet times with you are what keep me sane. I love the audience. I feel electric when I’m out there. The feeling I get when I look out over the crowd and people are singing my songs right back at me is indescribable. But being away from you, traveling with four guys, setting up my equipment, is so draining. You recharge me and make me whole again.”

Beth leaned back into her lover, relaxing against her. “How could I ever possibly love anyone as much as I love you?”

Kat kissed her wife’s head. “I pray you can’t.”

The two women spent the rest of the night holding one another close, connecting again; savoring every minute together.

The next morning, Kat had an interview during a morning radio show. Beth and some of her friends from the English department sat around her office listening to the show.

“We’re excited to have local singer, Kat Green, in the studio with us today. She’s performing tonight at the Backyard and you can find her CD’s in any music store.”

Kat smiled and spoke into the microphone. “Hey. How’s it going?”

“It’s good to have you back. It’s been a while since you’ve been in here. What have you been doing?”

“Thanks. It’s good to see y’all again. You’ve always been good to me. I’ve been touring; doing my own shows and opening for others. I’ve got a month left and then I’ll be home for a while.”

“A friend of mine caught Willie’s show in Dallas a few weeks ago and said you were great. What’s that like, touring with such a legend?”

“It is just awesome. I’ve been performing for as long as I can remember. I thought I knew a lot. Next to him, I know nothing.” The DJs laughed. “He has been fabulous and even lets me sing with him. He’s an amazing person and performer. I’m grateful for the chance to tour with him.”

“You’re going into the studio soon, aren’t you?”

Nodding, the singer answered. “Yes. My partner and I are having a baby in two months, so I’m taking some time off to be with them and then I’ll start recording the new album here in town. I’m so thrilled. It’s my first big budget CD. I’ll be here probably for the next year, recording and doing local shows.”

“That sounds exciting. Do you know, is it a boy or a girl?”

Kat grinned. “We just found out the other day that we’re having a little girl. We’re both over the moon.”

“Congratulations. That’s great news. Good luck to the both of you. While you’re here, could you sing something live for us this morning?”

Kat nodded. “Gladly. Any requests?”

“How about that old Lyle Lovett song? I love the way you do that one.”

“Sure. This is, “Nobody Knows Me.” She picked up her guitar and began to play the ballad.

“I like cream in my coffee

And I like to sleep late on Sunday

Nobody knows me like my babe

And I like eggs over easy

With a flour tortilla

Nobody knows me like my babe

Nobody knows me

Nobody knows me

Nobody knows me like my babe

But it was a dream made to order

South of the border

Nobody knows me like my babe

And she cried man how could you do it

I swore there weren’t nothing to it

Nobody knows me like my babe
Nobody knows me

Nobody knows me

Nobody knows me like my babe
And I like cream in my coffee

And I hate to be alone on Sundays

Nobody knows me like my babe”
Kat ended the song and the DJs were applauding. Kat nodded her head.

“That was great Kat. Thanks for coming in today. Good luck on the show tonight. We’ll both be there. Wild horses couldn’t keep us from a Kat Green show.”

“I appreciate that guys. I had fun today, as usual. We’ll see you tonight.”

“Come back anytime. Tonight. Kat Green at the Backyard at seven. Don’t miss it.”

Beth beamed as she listened to her wife on the radio. One of her friends looked at her. “So what’s it like being married to a famous, sexy singer?”

“I love it. I miss her being gone, but I can’t imagine being married to anyone else. I truly believe that she’s my soulmate.”

“Ok, excuse me while I go brush my teeth before I get cavities. Don’t you worry about her sleeping around on the road?”

Beth just smiled and shook her head confidently. “No, I don’t. She’s not your typical touring musician. We’ve practically grown up together and I know her as well as I know myself. We’re connected in a way that goes beyond explanation. I trust her implicitly.”

“Oh stop that. You’re making me depressed about my own sorry relationship.” All the women laughed.

Beth shut the radio off. “Shouldn’t y’all be preparing for your classes?”

The women laughed again and went to their offices and classrooms.

After the radio appearance, Kat went to meet her band for rehearsals. She was anxious to get the new song ready for the performance that night. Once she was satisfied with the arrangement and had completed the sound checks she went home to her partner.

Beth was folding the singer’s laundry. Kat walked up to her, kissed her lightly, and gently rubbed her stomach.

The teacher smiled. “You were great on the radio this morning.”

Kat returned the grin. “Thank you, darlin’.”

“You do realize that you told all of Austin that we’re having a little girl before we told our parents.”

“Woops. Am I toast?”

“No, but your parents and my parents called. I got an earful, but they’re excited about having a granddaughter.”

Kat kissed the side of her lover’s head. “I’m sorry about that.” She shrugged. “What can I say? I’m proud of my girls.” She started looking through her clothes. “Thank you so much for doing my laundry. Did you wash my black t-shirt and black jeans?”

Beth continued folding. “Yes, look in the stack on the couch. What time do we have to be there?”

The singer looked through her clothes. “You are a goddess. We need to be there at six.”

At the concert venue, Kat stood on stage, tuned her guitar, mandolin, and banjo. She finished one final sound check. Close to concert time, people began arriving while the band sat backstage with their families. Kat sat with her arm around Beth’s shoulders and talked with the group. Soon it was time to start and the band began walking onto the stage. Kat put her cowboy hat on her head, took a last swig of beer and kissed her lover. “The first song is for you baby.” She ran on stage as people cheered and chanted her name.

She put the guitar strap over her shoulder and approached the microphone. “Hello Austin.” The crowd applauded and roared. “Damn, it’s good to be home. How y’all doin?” People raised their beers and cheered. “Alright, well let’s get this party started. I want to try a little somethin’ out on y’all. I wrote a new song a couple of days ago and y’all are the first ones to hear it.” She looked over to the side of the stage and smiled at her wife. She blew a kiss and began to play the fast paced syncopated rhythms. The fiddle floated over the beats and the other instruments followed. Kat began to sing.

“Wake up. Whatcha been dreamin’ about?

I ain’t got a lot to say but I could talk to you for hours.

The way you talk, the way that you breathe,

The way that your spirit moves into me.

Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, oh yeah yeah.

I got three days to wash the road out of my soul.

I got three days to love you out of control.

And I wish I had a lifetime to hold onto you this way.

Love can do some healing.

In just three days.

Yeah hold me and help me understand.

Why on earth I have to be as stupid as I am.

To live the way I live,

Dream the dreams I dream,

So far away from you and me.

Yeah hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me, oh yeah yeah.
I got three days to wash the road out of my soul.

Three days to love you out of control.

And I wish I had a lifetime to hold onto you this way.

Love can do some healing in just three days.

Three days and nights to get my life back once again.

I ain’t holdin’ nothing back.

You got all I am.

Heart and soul and dreams in the palm of your hand.
I got three days to wash the road out of my soul.

Three days to love you out of control.

And I wish I had a lifetime to hold onto you this way.

Love can do some healing in just three days.”

The song went perfectly and the crowd loved it. Kat stepped to the side of the stage to where Beth stood, placed a soft kiss on her lips, and the cowboy hat on her head. She walked back to the microphone and played and sang for almost three more hours. The crowd was on its feet, screaming, dancing, and clapping to the music. At the end of the show, Kat raised a beer to the audience as she and her band walked off the stage. Beth was waiting for her, beaming. She touched the singer’s hot, sweaty face.

“You were wonderful baby.”

She did her best Elvis lip curl. “Why thank you, thank you very much.” Grinning, Kat kissed her quickly. “I’ve got to do a few things to help get the set down. I shouldn’t be too long.”

“Take your time. I’ll just hang out here.”

After she finished packing the equipment, she walked over to Beth and led her by the hand out of the venue. The singer turned to her partner, who was driving home. “So, what did you think of the song?”

Beth grinned. “I loved it. It was beautiful and it made me cry. You, my dear, are my great romantic hero. You write me love songs, and you make me feel beautiful and so very loved.” The couple shared a smile. “What time do you leave in the morning?”

“I leave at eight. Do you mind taking me to meet the bus?”

The pregnant woman shook her head. “I planned on it.”

They arrived at their door and Kat lifted her lover’s hand to her lips. The singer brushed her cheek across her partner’s short blonde hair. “Take a shower with me honey. ” The taller woman looked at her wife, smiling. She walked backwards, holding the professor’s hands, waiting for an answer.

Beth looked straight into her eyes. “Lead the way.”

Kat led her to the bathroom and turned on the warm water. She stood in front of her partner and unzipped the sleeveless summer dress, letting it fall off the smaller woman’s shoulders. The singer placed soft kisses on the warm, salty skin. The dress fell to the floor as the women pressed their lips together in the sweetest of unions. The rest of their clothes joined the dress in a heap.

The dark haired woman helped her lover into the shower. The warm wetness fell over the couple as they began to lose themselves in their love. The taller woman lathered up a sponge and dropped to her knees in front of her wife. She gently washed the protruding stomach as Beth watched her lovingly. As the water rinsed the soap away, the singer kissed her way back up to waiting lips. The blonde partner ran her hands through black hair as she kissed the wet skin in front of her. She suckled on the full breasts that were offered as Kat’s head fell back in pleasure. Beth stepped back and picked up the soapy sponge and began to run it across her lover’s strong body.

Wet bodies slid against one another as the couple expressed their passion and desire. The pregnant woman allowed her hand to work its way down to the apex of her lover’s need. Encouraged by the moans of her wife, the professor entered Kat deeply. She moved hard and fast inside the dark haired siren. The singer held onto her partner, rocking against her hand. The orgasm exploded through her body, causing her knees to buckle slightly. She held onto the smaller woman for support. The pregnant beauty ran her hands up and down her lover’s slick back.

Kat couldn’t stop the grin on her face as Beth held her tightly. She pulled back and kissed her lover hard. “I need to be inside you baby.”

There was only one word uttered in response. “Yes.”

The singer turned her partner around, placing her hands on the shower wall. With her hands covering the smaller ones, Kat kissed Beth’s back, and shoulders. As she used her knee to part her lover’s legs, the long skilled fingers found their way to their sacred home. The blonde arched into her wife as she felt her deep inside. The singer moved in and out, as her lover pushed back into her. The strong woman held on as waves of orgasm crashed over Beth. When her breath had returned to normal, Beth turned around into her lover’s embrace. The couple wrapped their arms around one another, reveling in the closeness.

Dried and satisfied, the women laid in bed lazily caressing one another. Kat lifted her lover’s hand to her lips, kissing it lightly. “I’m going to miss you baby.”

Beth smiled and turned towards her partner. “I know. I’m going to miss you too. These last three days have been so wonderful.”

Kat rubbed the expanding stomach. “You and the baby are the most important things in the world to me. Please, don’t ever forget that.”

Beth pressed her lips against the naked shoulder of her lover. “I could never forget how much we mean to you.”

The singer leaned down and kissed their baby. “I love you and little Presley.”

Smiling, Beth ran her fingers through the long black hair. “We love you too. Now get back up here and hold me so we can go to sleep.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Morning came too early for the couple who didn’t want to let go of one another. Kat loaded her guitar and bags into the trunk. They arrived at the meeting location and the band members were already loading their gear. The singer leaned over to kiss her partner deeply. She stepped out and retrieved her own belongings and put them into the bus. The other musicians said goodbye to their loved ones and Kat held Beth’s hands in her own. She pulled her pregnant wife into her arms holding her tightly.

“I hate saying goodbye to you darlin’.”

“I do too. But, the sooner you leave, the sooner you return.” She patted her tummy. “We’ll be waiting for you.”

Kat pressed her lips to Beth’s, pouring her love and devotion into the affectionate gesture. “Please be careful honey. Get some rest and don’t overdo it. If anything happens at all, call your parents, then me and I’ll get back here.”

Beth reassured her worried partner, “Sweetheart, I have a plan already set up. I’ll be just fine.”

“I love you both so much. I wouldn’t want to live if anything ever happened to the two of you.”

The smaller woman kissed her lover again. “Everything’s going to be fine. We love you too. Now you need to get on that bus. The guys are waiting for you.”

Kat walked to the bus door, holding her lover’s hand. She knelt down to speak to their little girl. “Now you listen here little Presley. Be a good girl and don’t give your Mommy a hard time. I’ll be back real soon; you wait for me, ok? I love you very much.” The stomach jiggled in response, making both women laugh. The singer kissed the baby, then stood up again.

“I’ll call you twice a day. I love you, ‘Scilla.”

The pregnant woman reached up for one last kiss. “I love you too, E.”

The taller woman let go of her partner’s hand and walked up the steps of the bus. Before moving to the back of the bus, she blew a kiss to her lover. In response, Beth kissed her hand and waved back. The bus pulled away as tears fell down the pregnant woman’s cheeks. As she sat behind the wheel of her car, she repeated to herself, ‘She’ll be home in a month. She’ll be home in a month. She’ll be home in a month. Come home soon, Kat. I love you.’

In the bus, Kat wiped the tears from her eyes. She took the sonogram picture out of her pocket and taped it to the wall of her bunk next to the pictures of Beth. She touched each one of them and spoke, “I’ll be home soon. I love you Beth.”

Part 2 – Love Has No Pride
(Thirteen Years Later)
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.”

“You’re what?”

“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?”

“Raleigh.”

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?”

“Yes.”

“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?”

“Yes.”

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?”

“Yes.”

“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.”

“Thank you.”

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
Tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died.
Give me
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.”

“You’re welcome.”

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?”

“No.”

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?”

“No.”

“Good. Have you found a house yet?”

“No.”

“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?”

“They’re solid.”

“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.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

Kat’s father nodded and stood to go back in the house. “Goodnight, Kat.”

“‘Night. I appreciate the talk.”

“You’re welcome.”

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.”

“What?”

“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.”

“Great!”

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.”

“Alright.”

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.”

“Thanks.”

“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?”

“Gruene.”

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?”

“Yeah.”

“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. The women were standing about a foot apart. 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.

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.”

Part 3 – That Friend Of Mine

Chapter 1-Emotionally Yours

Kat stood in front of the mirror adjusting her outfit. She looked sexy and a little dangerous in her black jeans and t-shirt. She pulled on her black boots, checked out her backside, inspected her flat stomach, and played with her hair. Kat began to swing her arm and swivel her hips, singing, “I’m just a hunka hunka burnin’ love,” in her best Elvis voice. Laughter broke her out of her reverie. She turned around and noticed her fourteen year-old daughter at the door.

“Presley Erin Green, don’t sneak up on me like that!” she admonished.

Still laughing, the teenager asked, “What were you doing?”

The singer put on her silver watch and sprayed perfume over her pulse points. “Nothing. How do I look?”

The girl appraised her mother’s attire. “Uh huh, yeah, right. Not bad for an old woman. So, where are you taking my mother?”

“Watch it, little one. I’m also your boss at work. You might want to be nice to me. I am taking your mother out for dinner and dancing.”

“And then?”

“I don’t know, maybe a motorcycle ride.”

“When are you bringing her home?”

Kat chuckled. “When I am good and ready. Besides, you are going to be at your grandparents’ house.”

Presley continued her inquisition. “And what are your intentions toward my mother? I have to make sure they’re honorable before I let you go out with her.”

Kat became very serious. “To win her back and love her for the rest of my life.”

The teenager nodded. “Okay, I guess that’ll do.”

The singer put her wallet in her back pocket. “I’m so glad I meet with your approval. What’s with the twenty questions anyway?”

The girl came up and put her arm on her mother’s shoulder. The mirror reflected the striking similarity between the two. “Just looking out for my mom. Plus, I like giving you a hard time. You look cool.”

“Well, thank you, darlin’. What do you think of your mom and me dating again?”

“I’m happy about it. Scout and I both are. We want you to live with us again. I remember when you and Mom were happy together. I used to hear you all night long, talking and giggling. Sometimes, I would sneak out of bed and watch you sing to her. You would be sitting at the piano and she would be next to you with her arms wrapped around your neck. She always smiled when you were around.”

Kat grinned and shook her head. “Presley, honey, you have no idea. Your mother and I were very happy together. We had some very special times.”

“Ewww. I don’t think I want to know.” The teenager grimaced.

The singer laughed. “We had something very rare. We still do. Beth is the most amazing woman. She is beautiful both inside and out. She’s strong, yet vulnerable. There are very few women like her. I have loved her since I was eighteen years old and I will love her until I die. I hurt her so deeply. By some miracle, she’s willing to give me another chance. I’m not going to screw this up.” Kat gently cupped her daughter’s cheek and softly spoke, “Your mother completes me.”

Presley smiled. “Alright, I’ll let you date her. You can keep her out as late as you want.”

Kat hugged her daughter tightly, holding her for a few extra moments. “So, what has your mom been up to? I haven’t seen her since she left early this morning.”

“She’s getting ready too. She talked about you all day. She’s also been smiling a lot.”

Kat had a giddy expression on her face. “Really? She talked about me?” Kat’s thoughts drifted for a second. “What time are your grandparents coming?”

“They should be here any minute. What time are you picking Mom up?”

“At seven. I ordered her some flowers earlier and I need to go get them and you need to go back home. Do you want a ride?”

“Sure.”

As they were leaving the house, Presley teased her mother, “Elvis has left the building.” The teenager laughed hysterically.

The singer shot the girl a look. “I am seeing bathroom duty for a certain teenage employee of mine.”

Presley cringed. “Yuck!”

Kat dropped her daughter off at Beth’s house and went to finish last minute details for the date.

Beth stood in front of her bedroom mirror, putting on her makeup. She couldn’t keep from grinning. Scout walked into the room and sat down on the bed.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, Sweetie. Are you ready to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s?”

The young blonde nodded. “Yep. You smell good.”

Beth continued to put on her makeup. “Thanks. It’s your mom’s favorite.”

“That’s cool. Are you excited?”

“Yes, I am. I am very excited in fact. It has been a long time since your mother took me out on a date.”

“Are you two gonna get back together?”

Beth stopped what she was doing and sat beside her daughter. “I can’t tell you, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right now. I don’t want to make you any promises I am unable to keep. But your mom and I still love each other very much, and we’re going to try. Relationships aren’t easy and sometimes loving someone isn’t enough. But, it’s a good start.”

“Yeah, but Mom’s home all the time and she doesn’t drink anymore. She still goes to those meetings. She spends lots of time with us too. That’s good, isn’t it?”

Beth beamed and covered Scout’s hand with her own. “Yes, it is, sweetheart. It’s very good. You won’t realize until you get older how much your mother gave up to be with you. She has worked hard to be a better person and a better mother because she loves you. Someday, you’ll understand how hard she’s worked. I’m very proud of her and you should be too.”

The young girl nodded her head. The conversation was interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell. Beth looked at her daughter. “That’s Grandma and Grandpa. Could you answer the door, please?” Scout ran downstairs as Presley walked into her mother’s room.

“Hey, Mom.”

“Hi, Presley. Your grandparents are here. Are your things packed?”

“Yeah.”

The blonde stood in front of her daughter. “So, how do I look?”

The girl appraised her mother’s tight Wrangler blue jeans, chestnut colored lace-up boots, white t-shirt, and her short, tousled hair. The teenager smiled. “You look great. She’s going to love you in that. She’s wearing black as usual. She went to pick up your flowers.”

The blonde grinned. “Really? She’s getting me flowers?” Her mind wandered a minute to thoughts of Kat. “But, you shouldn’t have told me. I’ll act surprised. Is she excited?”

“Very. And nervous.”

Beth was giddy. “She’s nervous? I suppose that’s a good thing. So am I. Let’s go down and see your grandparents.”

The two walked downstairs. The older couple drew their granddaughter into a big hug. Beth walked over to her parents and hugged them tightly. “Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.”

Her mother assessed her outfit. “You’re wearing jeans on a date? Shouldn’t you be wearing something more dressy?”

Beth shook her head. “No, Mom. We’re going out dancing. I don’t need a dress for a lesbian bar.”

Her mother looked skeptical. “Should Kat be going to a place like that? Isn’t that too much temptation?”

Beth answered, “I have total faith in her. She’s been sober for almost a year. I’m sure she’ll be fine. She goes to meetings twice a week, sometimes more if she needs it. Besides, if it becomes a problem, we can go somewhere else.”

Beth’s father didn’t say a word. He still held a grudge against Kat for the pain and embarrassment she had put his daughter through. Turning to her granddaughters, Beth’s mother broke the silence. “Are you girls ready?”

Both nodded. Scout asked her grandmother, “Can we go swimming tonight?”

Her grandfather spoke, “I think we can do that.”

Beth looked at her daughters. “You two have fun. Give me a hug and I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

The grandmother smiled. “I thought we’d keep Scout and Presley until Monday, if that’s alright?”

The professor assented, “That’s fine with me if it’s alright with them.” The girls both nodded in agreement. Beth grinned at her girls. “Then go pack some extra clothes.”

Her daughters went up the stairs. “Thanks, Mom. I’m sure you’re going to have a great time with them.”

The older woman looked at Beth. “Have some fun this weekend. I’m pulling for you and Kat.”

Beth was grateful for her mother’s acceptance. “I appreciate that. Let’s just see what happens, shall we?”

Presley and Scout came downstairs and left with their grandparents. Beth watched her family leave and then walked to the mirror in the hall. She ran her hands through her short hair, evaluating her appearance. Her hands trembled slightly. ‘Why am I so damn nervous? I was married to her for over twenty years.’ She anxiously glanced at her watch. ‘Okay, just a half hour left.’ She sat down at her computer to respond to her students’ e-mails. As she finished, she heard the roar of a familiar engine. Her heart began to beat faster and stronger. The noise from the motorcycle stopped and the doorbell rang. The professor opened the door to find Kat with a big grin on her face and a very large bouquet of flowers in her hand. The dark woman was tall and gorgeous. Her breath gone, it was several moments before Beth could find her voice.

“Ummm…hi. Come on in.”

Kat smiled shyly as she walked in the house and handed the flowers to her date. “These are for you. I mean, they’re obviously for you. Who else would they be for?” Kat babbled nervously.

Beth was tickled at her companion. “Thank you. They’re beautiful. You remembered all of my favorites. That’s very sweet.” She reached up and lightly kissed the taller woman.

“You’re very welcome. You look wonderful tonight.” Kat hungrily stared at her date. “Those jeans fit…..really well.”

Beth grinned at the desired effect. “You’re very tempting yourself.”

Kat laughed. “Good. That’s a good thing.”

The blonde walked into the kitchen to put the bouquet in water. Kat came up behind her, putting her arms around her date. Beth settled back into the embrace. Kat inhaled her scent and whispered against the warm neck, “I have been wanting to do this all day. I have been dying to see you.”

Beth turned around in her date’s arms. “Me too. I really loved staying up with you last night. We said many things that we’ve needed to say for a long time.”

Kat reveled in the feel of her love in her arms. “You’re right. I’m so glad you came back. I don’t know what I would have done if you had gone through with your weekend with Emma.”

They both stood and gazed at one another without saying a word. Kat smiled and caressed her date’s face with her hands. “That’s enough of the past. Tonight we’re starting over. I love our history, but right now, some of it’s still too raw and hard for both of us. So, tonight, it’s just the two of us, right here and now.” She held out her hand. “Are you ready?” The question meant many things on many levels.

Beth smiled and accepted the offered hand. “Yes.”

Kat looked at her and returned the grin. “Let’s go.”

They walked outside. Kat’s classic Harley-Davidson was polished to a high shine. The singer turned to her love. “Is this alright? I thought it might be fun to take the bike tonight.” She offered Beth a helmet.

Beth nodded and drew a deep breath. Riding with her lover was one of her favorite things. She donned the helmet as Kat did the same. The dark woman started the motorcycle and extended her arm to assist her date. The blonde climbed on and wound her arms tightly around Kat’s waist. The two bodies melded together as the Hog hugged the curves of the road.

Kat pulled up to Beth’s favorite Chinese restaurant. Beth loved the restaurant that overlooked the capitol. The taller woman got off the bike and helped her companion. Each woman took off her helmet and the singer grinned, running her hands through her long black hair. “How was that?”

Beth’s face broke into a huge smile. “Oh, my God! That was so much fun! We haven’t done that in years. It was a wonderful idea. I feel like a teenager again.”

“That was the point.”

Kat reached for Beth’s hand and led her into the restaurant. The couple held hands and talked about their work and their family. Kat told Beth about Alcoholics Anonymous and the knowledge she had gained since she began the program. They laughed and fed one another Kung Pao Chicken and Mongolian Beef. When they finished dinner, the couple returned to the motorcycle. They stood gazing into one another’s eyes. The singer smiled at the woman she had loved her entire adult life.

“You are so beautiful tonight, Beth. Thank you for agreeing to go out with me. I’m really enjoying myself.”

“I am too. I love being with you.”

Kat’s response became lost in her throat as she gazed into the smaller woman’s eyes. She handed Beth a helmet then placed her own upon her head. The bike vibrated with power as the engine rumbled to life. They drove a short way to Rainbow Cattle Company, a gay and lesbian country bar on Fifth Street. The couple pulled into a large parking garage and Beth took her helmet off again. “I love the way it feels to ride with you.”

Kat moved closer and put her arm around the petite body. “I love the way you feel when you wrap yourself around me.”

With that she leaned down and stole a kiss, which began to grow in intensity. When Kat pulled back, Beth was breathing heavily and wanting more. The singer grinned and placed her arm around her date’s shoulder as they walked to the bar. The woman taking money at the door recognized the singer. Kat gave the door attendant a tip to watch the helmets. She then led Beth by the hand straight to the dance floor. The couple danced together to a fast-paced Elton John song. Both women grinned and moved closer to one another, feeling the heat radiating from their bodies.

Sounds of a fiddle and steel guitar filled the club. Kat held her dance partner gently, yet securely. Their eyes were locked onto one another as they two-stepped along in a circle with the other couples. Song after song, they danced together, smiling and laughing. The DJ recognized Kat and played one of the performer’s hits. The two women were enrapt with each other as they heard the familiar music play. They shared a private smile as the singer pulled her date closer. Beth laid her head against the taller woman’s chest, feeling her heartbeat. The singer quietly joined in with the recorded vocals as the couple swayed slowly. Kat had recorded the Bob Dylan cover at Beth’s request years ago, before their relationship fell apart.

“Come baby find me, come baby remind me, where I once begun.
Come baby show me, show me that you really know me,
tell me you are the one
I could be learning, yeah baby you could be yearning
to see behind closed doors
And I will always be emotionally yours.

Come baby rock me, come baby won’t you lock me,
into the shadows of your heart
Come baby teach me, come baby won’t you reach me, let the music start
I could be dreaming, but baby I keep believing
you’re the one I’ve been praying for
And I will always be emotionally yours.

It’s like my whole life never happened
Every time I see you it’s like I never even had a thought
I know my dreaming may be crazy
But it’s the only, only one I got.

Come baby shake me, come baby won’t you take me, I would be so satisfied
Come baby hold me, come baby won’t you please help me,
my arms are open so wide
Baby I could be unraveling, oh I may be traveling,
somewhere on this distant shore
But I will always be emotionally yours
Oh baby I will always, I will always be emotionally yours.”

As the song faded, the two women ended their dance with their foreheads touching. The air was heavy with emotional longing. Feeling overwhelmed and needing to break the tension, Kat swallowed the lump in her throat. “Would you like something to drink? We could go shoot some pool.”

Unable to speak, Beth nodded. As they made their way through the bar, Kat stayed close to her date. Each ordered a Coke and Kat put quarters in the pool table. She noticed the alcohol around her and felt the familiar craving. She looked at Beth. The love she held for this woman lessened the need she felt for the liquor. Kat grinned and chalked up her cue.

She playfully teased her blonde competitor, “Alright. Would you like to break? Either way, I’m going to win.”

Beth laughed, “I wouldn’t count on it. I’ve been practicing since we played last. You never know, you could be surprised.”

Kat played along. “Care to make a wager, Ms. Green?”

With a sly grin, Beth stood toe to toe with the singer. “Actually, yes, I would. What do you have in mind?”

Kat kissed the smaller woman deeply, filling her mouth. “Lots of things. But let me hear your ideas, professor.”

“Okay. The loser takes the winner wherever she would like to go and do whatever she would like to do on our second date.”

The performer looked at her date flirtatiously. “Is that your way of asking me out?”

Beth grasped the tight black shirt until the singer’s lips were inches from hers and placed a smoldering kiss on Kat’s mouth. Beth then pulled away, leaving the tall woman dizzy. The teacher grinned. “Maybe.”

Kat challenged, “Bring it on.”

The blonde leaned over the table, stick in hand, and struck the cue ball to break, sending two solids into pockets. Kat nodded appreciatively. “Not bad, but you’re still gonna lose.”

Beth smiled confidently. “We’ll see.” She took another shot, and missed.

Kat strutted over, wrapped her arm around Beth, kissed her on the head, and teased, “Awww, honey. That’s alright. Nice try though.”

The singer leaned over to take her shot. As she lined up her cue, Beth eased down beside Kat and questioned, “So, what’s your game plan here?” She ran her hands through the long black hair.

Kat leaned into the touch. She closed her eyes and lost her train of thought when she felt the hot breath on her neck. She turned to the blonde who was attempting to distract her and whispered into her ear, “To take this stick right here and use it to get those balls into those little holes.”

Beth bit her lower lip. “I see. Well, good luck then.”

Kat took her shot, knocking the nine ball into the side pocket. She moved around the table and shot the eleven ball in the left corner pocket. Just as she was about to hit the cue ball, Beth purposely dropped her stick and slowly bent over in front of Kat, giving the singer a full view of her back side in the tight jeans. Distracted, Kat missed her shot. With a triumphant grin, the blonde stepped up to the table. The woman in black just shook her head at the cheating blonde.

Beth lined up her shot, sinking the four ball. She attempted to knock the six ball into the corner pocket but missed.

The singer walked by and stole a quick kiss. “Let me show you how it’s done, darlin’.” Kat hit the cue ball in the direction of two balls that were lined up, sinking them both. Kat strutted to the other end of the table. The next shot was an awkward one, but possible to make. The tall woman knelt down to check the angles. Beth watched her date prepare to shoot. She walked over and placed a mind numbing kiss on her lips that lasted for nearly a minute. When she stepped back, Kat still had her eyes closed and her lips puckered.

The blonde smirked. “For luck.”

Kat shook her head. “You are cold, woman.”

Still lightheaded from the kiss, the singer missed her shot. Beth giggled and positioned herself, knocking another ball in the side pocket. She put her arm around the taller woman’s waist. “I wouldn’t be so cocky if I were you. Anything can happen. This game is not over yet.” She sank an easy corner shot. With a big grin on her face, she hit the cue ball, but banked it and missed her target completely. Kat chuckled with her hand over her mouth. Beth gave her a fierce expression. “What’s so funny there, stretch?”

Trying to hold back her laughter. “Nothin’, honey.” She lined up her shot, successfully sinking it. The singer continued to knock the rest of the striped balls into the pockets. Kat prepared to hit the eight ball. She pointed to a corner hole. “Right corner pocket.” Beth stood beside her and waited until she was about to shoot. Kat pulled the stick back and as she hit the cue ball, Beth came around and stroked between the taller woman’s legs. The cue ball went directly into the pocket.

Beth began laughing. “I win. I win. I win. Ha ha ha.”

With a playful scowl on her face, Kat grabbed her date, pulling Beth’s hips against her own. “You are so bad. I thought you would be old enough by now to be above your little tricks. You haven’t changed a bit.”

With an almost taunting expression on her face, Beth stared straight into Kat’s eyes. “Do you really mind?” She kissed the tall woman hard. Their hands began to roam over each other’s bodies.

Breathless, Kat responded, “No. Let’s get out of here. I want to be alone with you.”

Beth whispered hungrily, “Yes.”

Walking out to the bike, Kat wrapped her arm around her date. Beth held onto her body tightly. The singer started up the classic machine and helped the smaller woman onto the seat. The blonde encircled the singer’s waist with her arms. Kat placed one hand over the ones on her stomach and drove off. She pulled off onto a winding, uphill road near their ranch on the edge of town. When they reached the top, Kat put the kickstand down and shut the motorcycle off. She turned around straddling her bike and removed her helmet. She lovingly reached out and removed Beth’s helmet and smoothed the short blonde hair. The teacher moved closer and wrapped her legs around Kat’s waist. The couple held one another and looked out onto the city.

The tall woman smiled at her date. “Thank you so much for going out with me tonight. This has been amazing.”

Beth returned the grin. “You are very welcome. Thank you for asking me. I couldn’t have imagined a better evening. I don’t remember when I’ve had so much fun. I feel wonderful just being with you. I want you to know how proud I am of you. You are an incredible mother and you’ve maintained your sobriety for nearly a year. I’ve wanted to be close to you like this for such a long time.”

Kat stroked the side of Beth’s face. “God, Beth, I’ve dreamed about this for over a year. I’ve wanted to kiss you and hold you close. ” Lips met in a sweet union of love and promise. The couple began to lose themselves as time seemed to stop.

Breathlessly, Beth ran her hands through the long black locks. “You are beautiful, Kat. I need you.”

Kat spoke softly, “I feel like I’m going to explode. I’m so scared right now. This is one of the most intense moments I’ve ever experienced.”

Beth tightly held her hands. “Tell me why you’re scared.”

“I’ve been praying a long time for this moment to happen. I want you and I love you more than I could ever express. I’m afraid of losing you again. I’m afraid of the pain. I’m empty without you in my arms, ‘Scilla.”

Beth kissed her deeply. “I’m afraid also. I thought I didn’t want you anymore, but you again became the woman I first fell in love with. It hurt to feel you move so far away from me. I would cry myself to sleep, waiting for you to come home at night, needing your touch.”

“I’m sorry baby. I know I hurt you. I will never be able to apologize enough. But tonight, there was alcohol all around me and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crave it; I did.” Kat paused. “But, I was only into you. I barely noticed anyone or anything else. I’ve told you this before and I still believe it. We’re meant to be together. I’m not complete without you and you aren’t complete without me. I thank God that you still love me and that you’re willing to give us a second chance.”

“You’re right. I didn’t want you to be right. You told me that at the rehab center and I wanted to deny it. I really tried hard. My emotions are so raw with you. Giving my heart to you is such a risk, because you are the only one to whom I could truly give it. Believe me, I am just as frightened as you. But, I think we have to take a chance and try again.”

Kat nodded, smiling. “I think so too. Let’s just go slowly here and we’ll see what happens. I think we both want the same thing.

“Exactly.”

Beth laid her head against the tall woman’s chest. Kat held her tightly for several minutes, without speaking a word. Kat lifted the small hand she held in hers to her lips and placed a tender kiss on each of Beth’s fingers.

“‘Scilla, I should take you home now.”

“I don’t want to leave your arms.” Beth sighed and ran her hands up and down Kat’s chest. “But, we agreed to take it slowly.”

“Yes, we did. God, I feel like my heart’s on fire. I need to drive you home before I lose my resolve and end up making love to you right here on this bike.”

Beth chuckled. “It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve ever done that.”

Kat began to laugh as well, remembering times long ago. “That’s true. But that’s not how I want it to be the first time we make love again.”

The motorcycle came to life and the two women rode home. When they reached Beth’s house, Kat unlocked the door, letting her date inside. She wrapped her arms around the smaller woman, breathing her in.

“I hate for this night to end.”

Beth looked into her eyes intensely. “Then stay with me. I want you, Kat. I need to be with you tonight.”

Kat gently lowered her head until her lips met the soft ones waiting for her. She whispered painfully, “Do you have any idea what you are doing to me? It would be so easy for me to take you upstairs and spend the rest of the night making love with you.” She softly touched Beth’s face. “I want us to do this the right way. I think we should wait like we agreed. I love you and I am grateful for this chance. I just don’t want to blow it.”

Beth bit her lip. “You know, this noble streak of yours is very attractive. I hate to say this, but you’re right. I guess I’ll be heading up the stairs to take a cold shower…..alone…damnit.” Both women laughed. “Well then, if I can’t spend the night with you, could I at least spend the day with you tomorrow?”

Kat squeezed the smaller woman in her arms. “Of course you can. I have some odds and ends to take care of at the store in the morning and then an AA meeting. Did you have something in mind?”

“Yes, but may I go to the meeting with you? I haven’t been to one with you yet, and I’d like to see what you do and what’s involved.”

Kat smiled. “I’d really like that. If you don’t mind sitting at the store, I can pick you up for breakfast and we can go to the meeting after I finish my paperwork.”

“That sounds like a plan. We can spend the rest of the day by the pool and you can cook something on the grill.”

Kat asked playfully, “Why am I doing the grilling?”

“Because you lost tonight.”

“Ah, yes, because you cheated.”

Beth displayed her most innocent expression. “Now would I do such a thing?” She batted her eyelashes at the tall woman.

Kat shook her head in defeat. She wrapped her arms around the blonde, drew her near ,and kissed the top of her head. “You are too damn cute for my own good. I’ll pick you up at ten.”

“That is perfect. Good night, E.”

Kat leaned down to kiss her lips gently. ” ‘Night, ‘Scilla.”

Beth closed the door, leaning back against it. She touched her lips lightly where the kiss still lingered. She exhaled deeply and smiled, thinking about the evening she and Kat had just shared and the promise of the day ahead.

The next morning, Kat jumped out of bed, eager to start her time with Beth. The night before had been the perfect start to their new relationship. Kat had felt more alive than she had in years. She arrived at Beth’s house with a silly, excited grin on her face. Beth was waiting at the door with a smile and a kiss. Kat wrapped her arms around the smaller woman, holding her tightly.

“Damn, it’s good to see you, woman. I couldn’t wait to get over here.”

Beth glowed. “I feel the same way. I tossed and turned all night, thinking of you. When I did sleep, I dreamed of you. All night long, I felt you around me.”

“I was.” Kat placed a tender kiss on her lips. “Are you ready?”

Beth nodded.

“Then let’s go. I’ve had some new ideas for the store and I want to get your opinion.”

At the store, Kat walked to the corner of the large shop. “I want to add a small stage over here in this area and have an open mike night or some kind of venue for local artists. I thought I’d start with a singer/songwriter night, then see how it evolves. I’d like to see this place become a major spot for music and then produce some of the local artists in the studio at the house.”

Beth smiled. “Oh, honey, it’s a fabulous idea. Your reputation could be a major factor in its success. People around the world still know you and you’re a legend around town. I’m sure anyone here would love the chance to work with you.”

Kat touched the smaller woman’s face. “Thank you, sweetheart. I want to have it up and running within the next couple of weeks.”

“What about you? Do you plan on recording?”

“I don’t know. I’d love to do some bluegrass. Lainie’s group plays a lot and I really like it. I’ve recorded some things that I’ve written within the last year, but I don’t plan on releasing it anytime soon. I do like the thought of working with up and coming artists and I plan on performing here.”

Beth loved seeing Kat’s enthusiasm. “That’s wonderful, babe.”

Kat entwined her hand with Beth’s and led her to the back “Have you ever seen my office?”

The blonde smiled. “No, I haven’t ”

The desk was a mess of papers. Sitting near the edge of the chaos, were three picture frames, one held a picture of Scout dancing in her ballet leotard, a second had a picture of Presley at the piano. Inside the final frame was a picture of Beth, sitting on a large tree branch. Multi-colored fall leaves filled the background.

Beth gazed at the photo, grinned, and turned to Kat. “You have a picture of me?”

“Yes, I do. It’s been there since I bought the place. I took that picture at Cades Cove three years ago.”

“I know. Why do you have a picture of me here?”

Kat softly kissed the blonde. “Because, in my heart, you never stopped being my wife.”

The two women stared into one another’s eyes, lost in the moment. Finally, Kat softly spoke, “I, uh, need to get some work done. You can have a seat or look around the store.” Beth smiled and nodded.

Later that afternoon in the recreation hall of a local church, the couple sat together at the AA meeting. Beth held Kat’s hand as she listened to each person stand up and introduce themselves. Some of them shared their stories. Beth’s heart broke as she heard the wrenching words of pain and loss. When it was Kat’s turn, the singer stood to speak.

“My name is Kat and I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been sober for eleven months and three weeks. I celebrate my first anniversary next week. Drinking cost me my wife and nearly cost me my children. It wasn’t until my older daughter refused to speak to me and I finally heard the pain in my younger daughter’s voice that I decided to get help. I have become a much better mother to my girls, and Beth and I are dating each other again. She’s here with me today. It hasn’t been easy, but this program has done wonders for me. I’ve learned that I don’t need a drink to have a good time, unwind, and deal with the problems in my life.” Kat sat down and Beth looked at her as tears of pride welled in her eyes.

During the ride home, the couple held hands and shared few words. After several silent minutes, Beth turned to the singer. “Thank you for allowing me to come with you to your meeting. I’m so proud of you for maintaining your sobriety. I had my doubts, but I truly hoped you could do it. The Kat I used to know would have been able to, and you did. I’ve watched you with the kids. Presley isn’t angry anymore. She loves working in the store and she’s grown so much musically. I was very impressed with the job you did helping with the school musical. And then there’s Scout. She’s so happy to have you around. Every other word out of her mouth is about you. She loves the attention she’s getting from you. They love being with you and that makes me love you so much more.”

Kat turned to her and asked, “Did you ever really stop loving me?”

Beth shook her head. “No. But I fell out of love with you. My love for you changed and became something that hurt. I couldn’t live with you anymore and I couldn’t allow my heart to be open with you. Let me ask you, did you stop loving me?”

Kat considered her answer carefully. “No. I think I took you for granted, almost as if you were part of the furniture. I was too caught up with myself to even notice you. Every time I got a gold record, Grammy, or CMA, all I could see were all the young, hungry singers coming up behind me, trying to knock me off my pedestal, wanting what I had. My career became my priority. After a while, so much time passed without me putting any effort into our relationship, I fell out of love with you too. I was numb all the time because of the alcohol. Once I got that out of my system, I started to think and feel clearly again, but by that time, I lost you. That’s when I realized how much I did love you and that I would do anything for another chance.”

Beth responded, “When you became sober, I saw the you I loved for so many years. Spending time with you, hearing your ideas and thoughts, and watching you with our girls; I realized that I still loved you too. But I had taken a stand and was determined to stick with it. I was leery of being hurt again, but you kept tearing down my defenses by being your wonderful, loving, incredible self. You became you again, but maybe a little different, grounded, I think. I’ve fallen for you a little bit at a time. But, I was afraid of feeling that much pain again, so I thought that I’d be okay if I met someone nice who would love me, because I knew that she could never truly hurt me. It’s why I began seeing Emma. She is sweet and kind, but I wasn’t in love with her. I enjoyed her company and I cared about her. I couldn’t fall in love with her. That is what made her safe. But then you had to go and spoil my plan.” Both women chuckled. “That kiss in the rain was incredible and it was as if you flooded my entire being again.”

Kat grinned. “I should have kissed you months ago. Since I was eighteen, I have believed with everything in me that we belong together. I knew we would be together again. I don’t know how I knew and I didn’t know when it would happen; I just knew it would. I love you, Beth. This past year, I felt like I was meeting you all over again. You aren’t just Beth, the wife and mother; you’re Beth, the woman, and you are remarkable. You are brilliant, loving, funny, and incredibly beautiful. You’re tough when you need to be and tender when you need to be. All of that together just makes my heart pound wildly.” Beth beamed and brought Kat’s hand to her lips.

That afternoon, at Beth’s house, the two women held one another tightly, exchanging long slow kisses in the cool water of the swimming pool. Kat ran her hands over the smaller body in her arms. The singer pressed her lips against the wet flesh of Beth’s neck.

“You feel so good in my arms. You belong here, you know that, don’t you?”

Beth looked into her eyes. “Yes, I do. This is where we both belong.”

“There’s no place I’d rather be.” Kat emphasized her point with a deep, loving kiss. The rest of the afternoon was spent with the two women reconnecting, opening their hearts to one another.

After sharing dinner together on the deck, the two cuddled on Beth’s couch. Kat rested her chin on top of her love’s head. The blonde wrapped her arms around the singer’s waist.

“Kat, may I ask you a question?”

The singer placed a gentle peck on Beth’s head. “Of course, darlin’.”

“Why did you start sleeping around?”

Kat took a minute to think. This was the first time Beth had asked about the infidelity. The singer took a deep breath and began the painful recounting of the past. “I really don’t know. You know that alcohol caused me to do things I normally wouldn’t do. You also know how it is on the road. Sex is available any time of the day or night. There’s always a groupie or fan or reporter who would love to brag that she or even he slept with a celebrity. Put the two together with my damn self-absorbed attitude, and I gave in. It stroked my ego to have all those women wanting me. After the first time, I felt awful. I cried and cried about what I had done. I don’t know if you remember, but I called you and asked you to come out and see me. But of course, the girls had school and you couldn’t. I know it sounds like I am blaming you, but I’m not. It was me. I was an ass. After that, it became easier and easier.”

A tear slipped down Beth’s cheek. “For a long time, I wondered if it were me. I wondered why I wasn’t enough anymore. I couldn’t figure out how to be good enough for you in bed.”

Kat lifted Beth’s face to meet her eyes. She lovingly wiped away the tear from the teacher’s soft face. “You listen to me, Elizabeth Green. It was never you. Making love with you is the most beautiful thing I have ever known. You are an incredible lover. You were and are everything I ever wanted. You never disappointed me. I have never stopped wanting you. It was me and my damn stupidity and over-inflated ego. I’m sorry I made you feel like you weren’t enough.”

“When did you first sleep with someone else?”

“About a year and a half before we split up. I never cheated before that. I was approached over and over, but I turned them down.”

“You really are a completely different person when you’re not drinking. You’re so sweet, funny, charming and sexy.”

Kat smiled and kissed Beth’s lips softly. “Only for you; I mean that. I’m never going to betray you like that again. I’m done with all of it. I couldn’t stand to hurt you and the girls again. When you were pregnant with Presley, if anyone had told me that our life would end up like this; that I’d have everything I ever possibly wished for, but was an alcoholic shit with a family that left her, I’d have said that they were crazy. If I knew then, what I know now, I’d never even go down that road. Do you remember how happy we were when you were pregnant with Presley and when she was a baby? Things were so much simpler then. We felt like we could take on the world together.”

Beth concurred and grinned. “Those were some amazing times. I think we were happier when we didn’t have half the things we do now.”

“Exactly. One thing I’ve learned is that all I really need in the world is you, Presley, and Scout. I will never again do anything to jeopardize our family. Please believe me, ‘Scilla.”

Beth looked at her. “I believe you. I can see the truth in your eyes. They’re different since you’ve been sober. Did you know that?”

Kat shook her head. “No.”

“Yes. They sparkle and shine. I’ve always loved your eyes. They show your strength, your tenderness, your loving spirit. Would you do something for me?”

“Anything.”

“Sing to me. It’s been so long since you sang and played your guitar just for me, without singing to or teaching one of the girls.”

Kat smiled and gently brushed her lips against Beth’s. “Anything for you.”

The singer left and returned a couple minutes later with a guitar. She sat next to Beth and tuned the steel strings. She began to strum and softly sing.

“See the pyramids along the Nile
See a sunrise from a tropic isle
Just remember darlin’ all the while
You belong to me

See the marketplace in old Algiers
Send me photographs and souvenirs
Just remember when a dream appears
You belong to me

And I’ll be so alone without you
Maybe you’ll be lonesome too

Fly the ocean in a silver plane
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain
Just remember ’till you’re home again
You belong to me”

When she finished singing, Kat set the guitar to the side as Beth tackled her onto her back. The singer held the blonde tightly as they explored one another through deep kisses. Beth said hotly, “God, I love it when you sing to me like that.”

The couple spent over an hour exchanging soft kisses and caresses. Finally, they broke apart, their lips sore.

Kat looked at her, smiling. “Do you remember when we would race back to my apartment between classes and make out, driving each other crazy before we had to go back to school?”

Beth laughed. “How could I forget? We’d have one another worked up into a frenzy, then have to get back to class.”

“That was until we finally made love. Then we would go back to my place for a quickie.”

“I swear, we were like rabbits. I couldn’t get enough of you.”

Kat caressed Beth’s face. “You are so beautiful. I can’t get enough of you now. I could hold you in my arms forever.”

Beth sighed. “There’s nothing I would love more.”

Kat answered with a gentle peck on her lips. “So, what do we want to tell the girls?”

“We’ll tell them that we’re dating, but that we don’t want to rush anything by living together too soon.”

Kat nodded. “I think we should spend more time together as a family as well as a couple.”

“I agree. Why don’t you start coming over for dinner more often?”

The singer smiled. “I would really like that. I don’t want to push things. Also, if you’d like to go to counseling, I’d be open to going.”

“That might not be a bad idea.”

Kat kissed her date’s forehead. “In the spirit of not rushing things, I’m going to go home, as much as I don’t want to. I have to be at the store in the morning.”

Beth held her hand and walked her to the door. She wrapped her arms around the tall woman. Kat leaned down and placed a soft kiss on the blonde’s neck.

Beth smiled. “Come over for dinner tomorrow night.”

Kat returned the smile. “Yes, ma’am. Can you pick Presley up from the shop on Tuesday? The music club is meeting that night. Then I ….uhh… have a date afterward.”

Beth faked a menacing look. “Come again?”

Kat laughed. “I had dinner with one of the women in the group last Tuesday to get my mind off you. She plays the fiddle and is very sweet. Thinking you were into someone else, I made plans to have dinner with her again. I forgot about the plans until just now. I’ll have to call and tell her that I’m spoken for.”

Beth reached up to kiss her companion, biting Kat’s lip. “Yes, you are spoken for and you better not forget it.”

“Ouch! Yes, ma’am. You know Presley wants to work extra hours to get that new guitar before she goes to music camp next month.”

Beth shook her head. “I know. It’s your decision; you’re her boss.”

“I really enjoy having her there. She loves being around the instruments as much as I do.”

“She’s so much like you. If I didn’t know better, I would think she was your biological daughter.”

“Yeah, and sometimes it scares the hell out of me because I know how I was growing up. These teen years aren’t going to be easy. But, I couldn’t love her anymore if she were. I feel the same way about Scout. She’s much more like you though. I think that’s why she has me wrapped around her finger. I simply crumble around her. Just like I crumble around you. You three are the greatest gifts in my life.”

Kat leaned down and placed her lips on Beth’s. Holding one another tightly, the couple melted into the kiss, then reluctantly pulled apart.

“So, I’ll be over tomorrow around seven-thirty. I’ll talk to you at least once before then. Sometimes, I’m just overcome with the desire to hear your voice.”

Beth grinned. “Then, feel free to call me as many times as you like. I’m sure I’ll be calling you as well. Goodnight, E, I love you.”

Kat lifted the smaller hand to her lips. “I love you too, ‘Scilla. Goodnight.”

Chapter 2-Never Is a Moment

The couple spent the next month and half dating and spending as much time together as they could. Most of their evenings were spent making out and cuddling on the couch after the girls went to their rooms for the night. At the end of June, Scout left for writing camp in Arkansas and would be gone for a month and Presley was at music camp in the mountains of Tennessee. Kat and Beth were planning to make love for the first time in over a year and a half. As far as Kat was concerned, July couldn’t have come soon enough. She was going to take advantage of this opportunity.

Kat completed the final preparations for the Fourth of July surprise she was planning to give Beth. Beside their pond, Kat had set up a tent filled a with a variety of flowers. She inflated a large air bed and had coolers filled with treats for the woman she loved. She stepped back and gave the inside of the tent a thorough appraisal. ‘This is pretty damn good if I do say so myself.’

She had previously arranged for a private fireworks display to light up the night sky. She planned to give Beth the most romantic night of her life. Once satisfied with the campsite, Kat rode her four-wheeler with the attached trailer back to her house to change clothes. After changing into boots, jeans and a clean t-shirt, she grabbed her cowboy hat and went down to the stables near her house to saddle her new horse. She had bought the horse a few weeks before and had worked with the golden palomino daily before bringing her home. Kat climbed up on the beautiful mare and galloped to Beth’s house.

Beth sat at home waiting for Kat to pick her up. The singer’s only instruction was to wear something comfortable. Beth only knew that they were going to see some fireworks. She sighed contentedly as her thoughts drifted to the singer and their renewed love affair. The girls were gone for the month and the couple was eager for some extended time alone. Beth hoped that tonight would be the night that they would finally make love again. A knock at the door interrupted Beth’s thoughts. She opened the door excitedly and leapt into Kat’s arms.

Kat held her tightly and chuckled. “I take it you’re happy to see me,” Kat said as she nestled the beautiful woman in her arms.

Beth kissed her deeply. “You could say that. So where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise. But, I will tell you that you’ll be out all night,” Kat responded coyly.

With a waggle of her eyebrows, Beth complied. “Oh, really? I think I can handle that.”

“Let’s go.”

Kat offered her arm and escorted Beth outside. Beth noticed that Kat’s truck was not there. She turned to her date. “Where’s your truck? Are we taking mine?”

Kat smirked and whistled loudly. Her horse came strolling leisurely around the house. Beth’s eyes grew wide. “What’s this?”

“This, my love, is a horse.”

“I know that, but what is it doing here?”

“I bought her a few weeks ago; her name is Sunshine. I’ve been working with her daily so that she could become accustomed to me. I brought her home this morning. It’s part of the surprise. We’ve got the stables; I just thought we should use them.”

Beth shook her head in wonder. “So we’re taking the horse?”

Kat grinned. “Yes, ma’am”

Kat swiftly mounted the horse and extended her hand to Beth, who took the proffered arm and climbed up behind the singer. Beth entwined her arms around Kat as she led the horse to the campsite.

Once they reached their destination, Kat slid off the mare and placed her hands on her date’s waist to help her down. Beth marveled at the campsite. She turned back toward the dark haired siren.

“Wow! This is amazing!”

“Go look in the tent.”

Beth walked inside and took in the flowers arranged throughout the shelter and the large bed. She turned to see Kat behind her, smiling. She threw her arms around the tall woman. “Kat, this is so beautiful.”

“It’s all for you, ‘Scilla. The surprises aren’t over. I love you. I want to give you the most romantic, amazing night of your life. I want to make love with you. Do you remember the first time? We were camping and we made love in our tent. It was a bit more primitive than this, but it was beautiful.”

Beth lifted her date’s hand to her lips. “I could never forget. It was like coming home. I love you too, E. You are unbelievably wonderful. You even brought your guitar.”

Kat smiled. “Yes, I did. I also brought all of your favorite drinks and snacks, including a bottle of sparkling cider for later. But for now, I need to catch our dinner, then maybe we’ll go for a swim.”

Beth beamed in return. “I’d like that.”

After catching and cleaning two trout, Kat started a fire in the small grill. Beth lay back on the grass, enjoying the early evening sun on her face. Kat watched her woman, her heart bursting with love and her flesh burning with desire. The couple finished dinner as the sun finished its descent from the night sky.

Beth sat by the calm water safely held in the arms of the woman she loved. “Play a song for me.”

Kat kissed the top of her head. “I wrote something for you last week.” She stood and reached for her guitar. She plucked the strings and softly serenaded her lady.

“In the vastness of this world, baby you’re so unique
From your pouty little mouth to your pretty little peaks
From your head down to your toes, you are beautiful divine
No there never is a moment that you are not on my mind.

Circumstances cast our fates may be wrong may be right
Though our dreams are miles away, I try to reach you through this night
If you hear music in the wind, I hope my melody you find
No there never is a moment that you are not on my mind.

In the vastness of this world, baby you’re so unique
From your pouty little mouth to your pretty little peaks
From your head down to your toes you are beautiful divine
There never is a moment that you
There never is a moment that you
No there never is a moment that you are not on my mind.”

Beth brushed a tear from her eye. “That was beautiful. You are beautiful. The fact that you would come up with something like this is why I love you. Nobody could ever make me feel the way you do.”

Kat set the guitar to the side and moved in to softly kiss her companion. Their lips met in a warm kiss of promise and desire. The exchange became more heated as caresses became more intense. Kat gently pushed her lover back to lie on the soft blanket. Beth pulled back and placed the palm of her hand on Kat’s face. “Make love to me, Kat.”

The words shot straight to the singer’s groin. Kat removed the hand from her cheek and placed a soft kiss in its center. She rose and lifted the blonde to stand in front of her. The singer put one arm around Beth’s waist and one behind her head. Kat leaned down and captured the lips of the woman she loved. Hand in hand, they anxiously walked into the tent.

Beth sensed Kat’s tension. She led the singer to sit on the bed and stood between the long legs. She knelt down on her knees and peered up at Kat. Holding her lover’s trembling hands, Beth asked, “Honey, are you alright? You have a weird look on your face.”

Kat smiled shyly and lifted Beth’s hand to her lips. “I’m wonderful, baby. I guess I’m a little nervous.”

Beth touched her face lovingly. “So am I. I have butterflies in my stomach. I want you so badly.”

“You have no idea what it does to me to hear you say that. I think my heart just jumped.”

Beth gazed into Kat’s blue eyes and pleaded softly, “Kat, I love you; I want you; I need you to make love to me.”

The words washed over Kat and passed through her body like a wave of energy. She pulled Beth into her arms and kissed her firmly. Beth moved up to Kat’s lap, wrapping her legs around her lover as she straddled her.

Beth removed her shirt and looked at Kat seductively. “You do the rest.”

Kat swallowed hard and reached around to unclasp her lover’s bra. Her nervous fingers fumbled with the garment. Beth smiled sympathetically. She leaned in to kiss the singer. “It’s okay, honey. I’ll help.”

Kat looked shy and held her hands in her lap. Beth released herself from the bra, tossing it aside. Kat stared at the soft skin before her. With trembling hands, she reached out to touch the love of her life. “I’m so nervous. It’s been a long time. I feel like it’s the first time.”

Beth smiled reassuringly. “It feels like that to me too. You haven’t seen me naked in so long. I’m a little scared myself. I mean, I’m not twenty-five anymore.”

Kat shook her head. “Oh God, Beth, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I love the way you look. I love everything about you. I love you with everything I am.”

To emphasize her point, Kat began to shower her lover with tiny, soft kisses on the smooth flesh of her neck. Without breaking contact, she maneuvered Beth onto the bed and under her. Straddling her lover’s torso, the singer pulled off her own white t-shirt. Beth reached up to run her hands on the hot skin. The dark haired woman gasped at the feel of the small hands on her body.

The singer lay on top of her blonde angel, then rolled them both over until the smaller woman was above her. Kat sat up and wound her arms protectively around her lover. Tears came to Kat’s eyes.

“You are so beautiful. This feels like a dream. I’m afraid I’ll wake and it will be over.”

Beth ran her hands through black and silver hair. “It’s very real. I’ve never forgotten how you feel. We belong together.” With her small fingers, she removed Kat’s bra. The sensation of their breasts colliding gently brought both women closer to the edge.

Beth cried salty tears of love and joy. “It’s been so long. I have wanted this for so long.”

Kat lost herself in the tender flesh of her lover’s body as she held her. She brought one of the precious orbs to her lips and ran her tongue around the hard nipple. She began to suckle like an infant. Beth held her lover’s head against her. Kat moved back up to claim the mouth that craved hers. Both women whispered sacred words of love, like a prayer of devotion in the summer night. Familiar hands caressed naked skin, filling the void that had been open for so long. The couple spent over an hour savoring each kiss, each touch. Suddenly, loud popping noises broke their concentration.

Beth appeared puzzled. “What was that?”

“I don’t know, let’s go check,” Kat urged. She grabbed a blanket as the couple walked outside. The singer wrapped her arms around her lover from behind as giant sky rockets of colored light streamed across the dark sky.

Kat moved her lips closer to Beth’s ear. “Surprise,” she whispered.

Beth turned around in her lover’s arms. “You did this for me?”

The tall woman nodded. “Yup. They’re set up at the house. The fireworks guys will let themselves out when they’re done.” She spread the blanket on the grass and the women, who were nude from the waist up, lay down in one another’s arms. Kat pulled her lover closer as they watched the fireworks.

Soon, the couple became caught up in passionate kisses as the rockets burst above them. Their remaining clothes were hastily thrown aside. Kat moved down to the center of her lover’s desire. As Kat breathed deeply, the familiar scent wafted through her being.

“I’ve always loved the smell of you.” The singer lowered her mouth to drink her lover’s nectar. It was as sweet as it had always been. She ran her tongue along the soft folds. Kat found Beth’s hardened clit and began licking and sucking. Her tongue moved lower to tease the blonde’s opening. Kat dipped her tongue in, causing the smaller woman’s hips to rise involuntarily.

Beth groaned, “Oh God, Kat!”

Just as Beth began to climax, Kat replaced her tongue with her fingers. The muscles tightened around the digits automatically as Beth’s body convulsed.

Beth screamed out in a way her lover had never heard before. When the waves subsided, Kat moved up to hold her. Both women cried freely.

Kat kissed the top of Beth’s head. “I feel like I’m home after being gone for so long.”

Beth looked at Kat through glistening eyes. “You are home. We both are.”

The blonde kissed the tears off the taller woman’s face. The couple exchanged long, slow kisses as Beth explored Kat’s strong body. She kissed and licked all of Kat’s favorite places. The singer writhed and moaned under her. Beth claimed the full breasts, taking each one into her mouth, alternating from left to right.

Kat bit her lower lip. “You are so good at that. I need you now, Beth.”

Beth tongued her lover aggressively. She entered the slick center. She used both her mouth and fingers to drive Kat insane with need. Beth moved in and out of the singer, moving deeper with each thrust, causing her hips to rise. As Beth anticipated Kat’s impending climax, she used three fingers to claim her.

The force of the orgasm ripped through the Kat’s body. She cried out as her body seized, holding Beth’s hand in place. As the singer began to relax, she gripped her lover against her. The couple relaxed under the moon, holding one another near.

“That was amazing. It’s been such a long time. You are so beautiful. God, I love you.” Kat kissed the top of Beth’s blonde head.

In a voice of contentment, Beth cooed, “It’s even better than I remember. This has been the perfect night. I love you, E. You are the hero of my heart.”

The singer pressed her lips against her lover’s. “I’m in heaven here with you.”

Beth sat up and smiled at Kat. “Let’s go for a swim in the moonlight.”

The tall woman stood and reached for Beth’s hand. “Come on, darlin’.”

The two women stepped into the water to cool off their overheated bodies. Kat held onto her lover and kissed her passionately. Beth moved her hands along the tall woman’s slick body. Cravings were ignited once again and Beth straddled Kat, wrapping her legs around the singer’s slender waist. The singer walked out of the water, carrying Beth into the tent.

Kat lay her lover on the bed, remaining between her legs. She could feel Beth’s clit against her own. The dark haired performer began to grind into her companion. Beth tightened her legs around her partner. Kat moved harder and faster against her lover as their desire and passion grew. The couple climaxed together, crying out their love to the heavens. After, the two women cuddled together, breathing heavily.

Beth smiled. “Can we do that all night long?”

“Yes, we can.” Kat kissed her tenderly.

“I love you, Kat. I can’t believe you went to all this trouble. Those fireworks were stunning; these flowers are beautiful.”

“I want to show you how much you mean to me. I never want to give you a reason to doubt that you are the most important thing in the world to me. I know what a life without you feels like. I never want to feel that again.”

Beth softly cradled her lover’s cheek. “Neither do I.”

The two women began massaging warm skin and continued their reunion until the sun came up the next morning.

Exhausted and happy, Kat held Beth in her arms. “Is this real? Did we just spend the entire night making love?”

Beth ran her fingers along the taut skin of her lover’s stomach. “Yes, we did. This is very real. I can barely move. I’m not as young as I once was.”

Both women laughed. Kat answered, “Neither am I. I haven’t used these muscles in so long. Boy, does it feel good. It’s about damn time.”

“Tell me about it. So how long can we stay here?”

“We have enough food to last until tomorrow morning. We can always ride back to your house or mine to pick something up. But right now, I need sleep.” She waited for Beth to answer, but all she heard was a light snore. Kat grinned and drifted off.

Late in the afternoon, Kat awoke to wet hair on her face. She opened her eyes to find the emerald eyes of her lover staring back at her.

Beth hovered over her, smiling and giggling. “Hey there, sleepy head.”

Kat’s eyes adjusted to the light. “Hello, you. Did you go for a swim?”

“Yep.”

“Why didn’t you wake me? What time is it?”

“It’s after noon. I spent a long time watching you. You just looked incredibly peaceful and beautiful, and you worked very hard on all of this. I wanted to let you sleep. I felt so good this morning, I thought I’d go for a swim. I don’t remember when I’ve felt this alive. It’s all because of you. Thank you.” Beth leaned down to place a soft kiss on Kat’s lips. Beth’s stomach growled, breaking the emotional moment.

Both women laughed as Beth stood up to walk to the cooler; she brought strawberries and grapes back to their bed. Beth selected a ripe, red berry and placed it in Kat’s mouth.

“Mmmm. Thank you very much. You spoil me.”

Beth popped a couple of grapes into her own mouth. “You deserve it. I had such an amazing night with you.” She placed a strawberry between her teeth, offering it to her lover.

Kat brushed her lips against the blonde’s as she plucked the fruit from Beth’s mouth with her teeth. The singer purred. “Okay, now I really feel spoiled. Please do it as often as you like.”

Beth chuckled. She chose another berry and bit off the tip. She took the cool treat and rubbed it on her partner’s nipples. The blonde leaned down and licked the juice off her lover. Kat arched into her.

Beth retreated. “Mmmmm…. Tasty.”

Kat bit her lower lip. “Don’t stop.”

Beth smirked and took the berry, painting the singer’s body, spreading red juice on hot skin. The blonde followed the sweet trail with her tongue. When she reached Kat’s center, she dipped the berry into the warm nectar that flowed freely. She placed the morsel into her mouth. “Ohhh. I like that a lot. I’ll have to have some more of that.”

Kat only whimpered in response.

Beth leaned in to drink her lover. She lapped at and sucked on the heated folds. The blonde deeply entered her tall lover. Beth’s tongue plunged in and out, as Kat loudly moaned. The orgasm crashed over the singer as she grabbed the blonde head between her legs.

Kat pulled Beth into her arms as her breath returned to normal. “You are so incredible.”

“What can I say? I’m inspired.”

Both women laughed and soon, light, easy kisses became heated again. Kat flipped the blonde onto her back and proceeded to consume her body hungrily. She nibbled, sucked, and licked aroused flesh. The singer feasted on her lover’s breasts. She moved down and devoured Beth’s hot, wet center. Using three fingers, Kat claimed her lover again, taking her with each thrust. Beth came hard, her body rising uncontrollably to a sitting position. Kat held onto her securely, eventually easing her fingers from her lover. She pulled the blonde close and the two fell into a peaceful sleep. The couple spent the rest of the day making love, swimming, and talking.

The sun came too early for the women on their last morning together. They were curled tightly around each other. Kat ran her finger along Beth’s soft skin. “Good morning, beautiful. How was your night?”

Beth snuggled closer. “It was perfect. I wish we could stay like this forever.”

Kat placed a soft kiss on Beth’s head. “I wish we could too. I can’t imagine a better way to wake up. However, my love, we need to be moving soon. I have to get to the store.”

Beth whined, “I don’t want you to go anywhere.”

Kat chuckled. “But I have to. There’s a shipment coming in today and I need to be there to inspect it.”

“How am I going to sleep without you?” Beth pouted. “Sleeping alone sucks!”

Kat agreed, “Yes, it does. How about I come over after work tonight and stay over?”

Beth’s face lit up with excitement. “I would love that. I don’t know how I’m ever going to sleep without you again. Part of me wants to jump and move back in together and part of me is scared that we’d be making a mistake.”

“Well, honey, it isn’t like we’ve never lived together. We kind of know what we’re getting.”

“I know that. But, we aren’t the only ones in this family. We have two daughters who would be devastated if we were to get back together and couldn’t make it work. We can’t hurt them like that.”

“You’re right. What do you think of a trial reconciliation? We can live together while the girls are gone. But when they come home in a few weeks, I’ll go back to my place and we’ll continue to see one another until we agree we can live together on a permanent basis. Presley and Scout don’t need to know.”

Beth nuzzled her softly. “I love it.”

There was sadness in the air as the couple left their haven. Beth couldn’t wait to have Kat home that night. She spent the afternoon preparing a surprise of her own.

As she walked in the door that evening, Kat was greeted by a very excited Beth. The tall woman set her bags down and wrapped her arms around her lover, lifting her off the ground.

“Hi, honey, I’m home.”

Beth claimed her lips fiercely. “Those are the sweetest words I’ve heard in such a long time. I made you dinner.”

“Wow. Thank you, darlin’. You are the sweetest woman ever. I thought about you all day. I missed you.”

Beth stole another kiss. “I missed you too. Come, sit down. Dinner’s ready.”

The smaller woman led her to a candlelit table. Kat brought her lover’s hand to her mouth. “This is beautiful.”

“Well, it’s nothing like what you set up.”

Kat captured her lover’s lips. “It’s perfect.”

After sharing a romantic dinner, Kat sat at the piano with Beth by her side. The singer played a soft jazz tune in three-quarter time as her lover lay her head on her shoulder. Her voice was soft and smoky, as if she were playing in a blues club in Memphis.

“Come away with me in the night
Come away with me
And I will write you a song

Come away with me on a bus
Come away where they can’t tempt us with their lies

I want to walk with you
On a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow grass grows knee-high
So won’t you try to come

Come away with me and we’ll kiss on a mountaintop
Come away with me
And I’ll never stop loving you

And I want to wake up with the rain
Falling on a tin roof
While I’m safe there in your arms
So all I ask for you
To come away with me in the night
Come away with me.”

Beth began kissing Kat’s neck. The singer diverted her attention from the piano to her lover. The women stood and rid themselves of their clothing without breaking contact. Beth reclined on the couch with Kat above her, making love to her passionately. The couple rocked against one another at a frantic pace, pushing themselves over the edge into the bliss of their mutual climax. Their cries of pleasure echoed in the empty house.

After, Kat laid her head on Beth’s breast and ran her hands along the warm skin. “God, I love you, ‘Scilla. Being here with you is a miracle. I prayed and I wished that I could be with you like this again.”

“I missed you so much and I have been smiling all day just thinking about you.”

Kat kissed her softly and rose to her feet. She held out her hand and led Beth to the bedroom where they continued to express their love long into the night.

Kat and Beth spent the rest of the month falling more and more in love. Beth often dropped by the store to take Kat for a picnic on Town Lake or out to a downtown cafe. They even shared lunch under the tree where they first saw one another on the University of Texas campus. They spent their nights making love and holding one another close. Unfortunately, the month came to an end and it was time for Kat to return to her own home.

Beth sat on the bed and sadly watched Kat place her belongings in her suitcase. “I hate that you’re leaving, Kat.”

Kat smiled. “Me too. But, we’re doing the right thing. Aren’t we?”

Beth held out one of Kat’s shirts. “I think so. I’m not sure anymore. I do know that I dread my first night without you.”

Kat walked over to her lover. Beth wrapped her arms around the tall woman, laying her head against the firm stomach. Kat held her gently. “Me too, ‘Scilla. It’s not forever and we have to be sure for the girls’ sakes.”

Beth sighed. “Yes, we do.”

Kat lowered herself onto her knees, looking into green eyes. “Hey, we still have tonight.”

With that, the couple made love slowly, making the most of their limited time.

Chapter 3-I’ll Be

In the mountains of Tennessee, Kat, Beth, and Scout sat in an audience of parents on the last night of Presley’s music camp. Kat held Beth’s hand securely as an expression of pride spread across each of their faces while watching their older daughter play the guitar with a bluegrass quartet. Presley played confidently and had a strong presence on stage. Tears of joy ran down the blonde’s face as her daughter sang into the microphone. After all the performances, the family met Presley backstage. Several musicians and parents excitedly greeted the famous performer.

Kat presented her daughter with a large bouquet of roses and hugged the girl tightly. “That’s my girl! You played beautifully. We’ve missed you so much, sweetheart.”

Beth wrapped her arms around her teenage daughter. “You were wonderful. I am very proud of you. I think you’ve grown at least a couple inches since you’ve been here. ”

Even Scout had a big squeeze for her sister. “Hey, butthead, I missed ya. You weren’t too bad.”

“Thanks, scumbag,” Presley responded. “I kinda missed you too. Did you have fun at writing camp?”

“Yeah, I did.”

At the reception for parents and campers, Kat stood back and watched her daughter bask in the praise and accolades of the other musicians and audience members. Presley gracefully thanked all the people who came up to her to tell her what a great performance she gave. The singer watched her daughter with pride. She saw so much of herself in the girl. Watching her, Kat realized that this was exactly what Presley was meant to do. Her thoughts were interrupted when a teenage boy walked up to Presley. The young woman’s face lit up when she saw him.

“Mom, Mother, this is Jimmy Ray Walker. He’s from Kentucky and plays the fiddle and the bass. He was in my group.”

Beth offered her hand and a smile. “It’s nice to meet you. Jimmy. I’m Beth Green and this is Presley’s other mom, Kat Green.”

The boy’s eyes widened as he looked at Kat. “I know who you are, ma’am. My mama thinks you’re the greatest. She’s got all your CD’s.”

Kat grinned and shook the boy’s hand. “Well, thank you, Jimmy. You’re quite a fine musician yourself. You have excellent technique and a bright future ahead of you.”

“Thank you very much, ma’am. Presley here is the best. Everyone wanted to be in her group.”

The singer’s chest swelled with pride. “Well, thank you. I take that as a supreme compliment since I taught her.”

The boy turned to Presley. “Would you come meet Mama?”

Presley smiled and nodded, then turned to her mothers. “I’ll see y’all later.”

Jimmy asked Kat, “Ma’am, would you mind if I brought my mama to come meet you?”

“I wouldn’t mind at all. I’d be happy to meet her.”

Presley walked on air as her family left her on the last night at the camp. After being in her mother’s shadow all her life, it was nice to have a bit of stardom for herself. She could barely move through the compound without someone stopping to congratulate her on her performance. But, Presley was able to sneak away with Jimmy Ray long enough to experience her first kiss. The teenager was so excited, she could hardly sleep.

The next day, the family arrived at the camp to pick up Presley. The other campers were leaving with their parents as well. Kat grabbed her daughter’s bags to put in the rental car.

With a shy grin, Jimmy came up to Presley. “I just wanted to come say goodbye. It was real nice gettin’ to know you.”

Presley took his hand and looked at her family. “Y’all go on and I’ll catch up to you.”

Kat smiled innocently and countered, “That’s okay. We can wait right here. Take your time.”

Beth glared at Kat, then turned to the teenager. “We’ll be in the car whenever you’re ready, sweetie.” She turned her attention back to her lover. “Come on dear; let’s give them a little privacy.”

Kat attempted to argue, but was led toward the car by her smaller partner. The singer glared back at her. “Why did you do that?” She turned around to see her daughter and the boy share a goodbye kiss. “They’re kissing. She shouldn’t be doing that. She’s too young. What does she know about this boy anyway?”

Beth could barely hide her grin. “Now honey, didn’t you have any camp romances when you were her age? He seemed like a very nice young man.”

Kat became indignant. “Yeah, well….. She’s too damn young. What if he’s just getting involved with her because of who her mother is? She doesn’t need a boyfriend.”

Beth shook her head as the family sat in the car and waited for Presley. “Kat, you just need to relax. She’s a teenage girl and is going to be dating soon. She’s had little boyfriends before.”

“I just don’t like it. She has the makings of a first-rate artist. Love or crushes will only distract her. The last thing in the world a rising musician of her caliber needs is to get all crazy over someone and become distracted from her music.”

Beth turned to her. “Oh, so does that make me a distraction?”

Kat swallowed and tried to quickly think of something sweet. “Of course not, honey, you are the exception and I think I’ll shut up now.”

Beth smirked. “That’s very wise of you. I know you’re concerned about her, but she’ll be fine. You have to let her grow up at some point.”

Kat leaned forward, laying her head on her arms crossed over the steering wheel. “I don’t want to. Can’t we just lock her in her room until she’s thirty? I don’t want either of my girls to grow up.”

Presley got in the car and Scout began to tease her. “Presley and Jimmy sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s…”

Kat and the teenager both interrupted her. “Knock it off, Scout!!”

Once the family was back in Austin, Kat returned to her own home as Beth and the girls prepared for school to start again. The family had dinner together every night and every night Kat went home frustrated. Beth didn’t want to send their daughters the wrong message. Both women had become accustomed to sleeping together and had difficulty when they slept apart.

After two weeks of sleeping alone, Kat sat up in bed after another restless night. “Shit! I’ve had enough of this. This is absolutely ridiculous. I love her and she loves me and that’s it. I’m not spending another night without her.” She stormed out of bed and began pacing around the room. Finally, she came up with a plan to reunite her family under one roof. She called Lainie to enlist the band’s help. Lainie assured the excited singer that the group would be more than willing to help out.

Later that morning at the store, Kat pulled her daughters into her office. “Girls, I need to talk to you. I love your mother with everything I am and I want us to live together again as a family. I’m tired of being away from y’all. I’m going to ask your mother if I can move in. I’m planning sort of a second wedding. I need your help though. Today, I am going to call your mom and have her come pick you up. I’ll tell her that I have some things to do and that I can’t come over this evening. I want you to get her wedding ring. Do you know where she keeps it?”

Presley nodded. “Yeah. She keeps it in her jewelry box.”

“Good. I want you to get that ring by seven o’clock. Scout, ask your mother to help you with a story or poem or something. You know how much she loves that stuff. When she’s busy with you, Presley will sneak into her room and get the ring. When you have the ring, Presley, I want you to call me. Around nine or so, I will set up my band outside your mother’s bedroom balcony. While I’m doing that, I’ll call you on your private phone. Presley, you can bring the ring outside. After you give me the ring, I want you to go back inside and get your mother to her balcony. I’ll place a ladder against the rail. I’m going to serenade her, climb up the ladder, give her a rose, and put her wedding ring back on her finger. Then, when she and I go inside, you girls go back in and leave us alone for the rest of the night.” Kat grinned at her kids.

Scout hugged her mother tightly. “We’re gonna live in one house again?”

Kat squeezed her daughter. “If your mom says ‘yes’. ”

Presley was excited. “We’ll help. I can’t wait.”

“Neither can I. I have some things to arrange and I’m having dinner with your grandfather.”

The teenager asked, “He doesn’t like you very much, does he? He doesn’t say anything bad, but he makes a face when someone talks about you.”

The singer answered her daughter, “Your grandfather loves the two of you and your mother very much. He’s being protective, just as I am with you. You both know I did things that were wrong and hurt your mother and you girls. He is angry with me because of it. I need to ask for his forgiveness. I would be the same way with anyone who hurt you. Before I live with y’all again, I have to make amends. I don’t want any bad feelings in this family. It’s part of taking responsibility for my actions. So, can you two keep the secret from your mother?”

Both girls nodded enthusiastically.

Her daughters went back to work and Kat telephoned Beth. “Hi honey. Can you do me a favor and pick up the girls around five? Some things have come up and I have a dinner meeting tonight with a local artist who wants me to produce a CD for him. I won’t be at dinner tonight.”

Disappointed, Beth said, “That’s not a problem. Will I see you at all tonight?”

Kat tried to keep from giggling. “I’m not sure. I might not be in until late.”

“I will probably be up late writing. If you see a light on, stop by.”

“I may do that. I’ll see you later when you pick up the girls.”

“I’ll be there. I love you, Kat. I miss you. I don’t sleep well without you.”

“I love you too, darlin’. I haven’t been sleeping well either and I miss waking up with you. Have a good day, baby.”

Smiling, Kat hung up the phone. She couldn’t wait to see Beth’s reaction tonight.

The day went by quickly as Kat began to set her plan into action. She had written a new song and had spent the last music session teaching it to her band. It would be the perfect song to play tonight. The all-woman group was ready.

Kat sat in the Pecan Street Cafe, waiting for her father-in law. She stood and waved at him when he walked into the restaurant. He had a serious look on his face as he sat down at the table.

Kat drew a deep breath. “I appreciate you meeting me, George. I’d like to speak with you.”

“Alright, let’s be straight with one another. What’s on your mind?”

“As you know, Beth and I have been seeing one another again. I love her very much. I always have. I love our daughters as well. They are more important to me than anyone or anything in this world. Tonight, I’m going to ask Beth to allow me to move back in. I don’t want any hard feelings in this family. I think it’s time for us to make peace. I understand your feelings about me. You love Beth and the girls and I hurt them. You’re protective of them and I appreciate that. Beth has forgiven me and I’d like you to forgive me as well. We were friends once; I’d like that again.”

Kat’s father-in-law looked at her skeptically. “What makes you think you deserve another chance?”

“Maybe I don’t. All I know is that I’d give my life for them and I will spend every day devoted to Beth and our daughters. I’ll never forgive myself for hurting them.”

“Do you have any idea how much you hurt my daughter? When she came back here, the light in her eyes was gone. You killed it. When Beth told us she was gay, I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I love her. Then she told us she was in love with a musician. I wasn’t happy with that either, but she was happy and you obviously loved one another. We eventually came to know you and welcomed you into the family. You promised me you would be good to her and take care of her. You broke that promise to me like you broke your promises to her. You were like a daughter to us. You hurt us too.”

Kat absorbed what George was saying. “I know, and I will never be able to apologize enough. I love you both like my own parents. I miss the time I used to spend with y’all. I’ve been sober for over a year now. I want to reaffirm my commitment to Beth. I will never hurt her like that again. I want us all to be a family again and that includes you. Please, George, your blessing means so much to me. I won’t let you or my family down again.”

George considered Kat’s words while the singer held her breath in anticipation. “You’ve always lived up to your financial responsibility to your family. You’ve always made sure they were secure, and I respect that. You’ve also maintained your sobriety for over a year, and you deserve a lot of credit for doing so. Beth is happy again. I want to believe in you, and I want to believe that you’ve changed. Beth and the girls mean the world to me. Quite honestly, you do too. But, their happiness is what is most important. If my daughter can give you another chance, I can too. I will tell you one thing though, and I’m only going to say this once. Jesus will forgive, but a daddy won’t forget. If you ever do anything like that to them again, I don’t care if you are a woman; I will come after you and make you pay for the rest of your life.”

Kat nodded. “I understand and I respect how you feel. To be honest with you, a life without my family is like living a slow death. I will never do anything again to jeopardize my relationships with them.”

The older man smiled. “I’m glad to hear it. So, when are we going to play some golf?”

Kat’s face brightened up. “How about this Saturday morning?”

The two continued their dinner with friendly conversation. Kat shared her plans with her father-in-law, who seemed genuinely pleased. Afterward, Kat went back to the store to rendezvous with her band. On her way, Kat’s phone rang. Presley was reporting on the other end. “The eagle has landed.”

Kat laughed. “What?”

“I got the ring.”

“Good girl! Does your mom suspect anything?”

“Nope. How did things go with Grandpa?”

“They went very well. I’m picking up a rose and meeting the band at the store. We should be there in a while. I’ll call you when I need you to bring the ring out to me.”

“Cool. Good luck, Mom.”

“Thanks, sweetheart, I love you.”

At the store, Kat changed into her black slacks, black shirt, and trouser boots. She grabbed her gold lame` jacket and slipped it on. She admired the fit. ‘Not bad. After twenty years, this sucker still fits.’ Her band arrived soon after. Once organized, they followed her to Beth’s home.

The five women stood outside Beth’s window while Kat grabbed a ladder out of her truck and placed it against her wife’s balcony. She put her guitar over her shoulder and called her daughters’ phone. “I’m out here. Bring me the ring and then get your mom.”

Scout answered, “‘Kay.”

Presley ran outside and gave her mother’s ring to Kat. Scout told her mother, excitedly, “Mom, there’s something on your balcony. I don’t know what it is. You need to take a look. Come on!”

Bewildered, Beth went into her bedroom and heard music coming from outside. She opened the French doors and stepped onto the balcony. Her eyes grew wide with surprise when she saw her lover standing there with a guitar strapped around her body, wearing the same outfit she wore when they married many years before. Kat’s band stood just behind her.

The musicians continued to play the introduction of the song. Kat came in with the vocals.

“The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful
Stop me and steal my breath.
Emeralds from mountains thrust towards the sky
Never revealing their depths

Tell me we belong to together.
Dress it up with the trappings of love.
I’ll be captivated.
I’ll hang from your lips
Instead of the gallows of heartache that hang from above.

I’ll be your crying shoulder
I’ll be love’s suicide

I’ll be better when I’m older
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life

Rain falls angry on the tin roof
As we lie awake in my bed
You’re my survival
You’re my living proof
My love is alive and not dead

Tell me we belong together
Dress it up with the trappings of love
I’ll be captivated
I’ll hang from your lips
Instead of the gallows of heartache that hang from above

I’ll be your crying shoulder
I’ll be love’s suicide
I’ll be better when I’m older
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life

Well I’ve dropped out, burned up, fought my way back from the dead
I’ve tuned in, turned on, remembered the thing that you said

I’ll be your crying shoulder
I’ll be love’s suicide
I’ll be better when I’m older
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life
The greatest fan of your life.”

When the band finished playing, Kat picked up the single red rose that was sitting on the ground beside her. The singer swung the guitar behind her and placed the rose between her teeth. She climbed the steps of the ladder to her lover who waited for her. Kat took the rose from her mouth and handed it to Beth, who pulled the singer onto the balcony.

“You are a crazy, wonderful woman. Look at you. You are beautiful. I love you so much.” Beth wrapped her arms tightly around the singer.

Kat stepped out of Beth’s arms and got down on one knee. Their daughters and Kat’s band mates watched. The singer removed her lover’s wedding ring from her pocket and held Beth’s left hand. She slipped the wedding band onto Beth’s ring finger as tears streamed down the blonde’s face.

Kat gazed up into her eyes. “Beth, I don’t think I can take another morning of waking up without you. I want to be with you every day and every night. I am nothing if not yours. I want to dedicate myself to being your wife and Presley and Scout’s mother. You make me a better person. Your love and grace humble me. I don’t want to spend another day without you. I love you, ‘Scilla. Wear my ring and be my wife. Let me come home again.”

Beth was crying so hard, she couldn’t speak. With a big grin on her face, she pulled Kat off her knee. Kat pressed her lips to her wife’s, their salty tears mingling. The women clung to one another tightly. Kat’s band and daughters applauded the scene. Beth pulled her wife into their bedroom.

The singer pulled out of the embrace and called out. “Bye girls, thanks for your help. I’ll see you Tuesday. Presley and Scout, don’t stay up too late and don’t disturb your mother and me unless someone is bleeding profusely. We’ll see you in the morning.”

The singer moved back to her wife. The couple held each other tightly. The blonde looked up at her. “I can’t believe you did all of this. This is so wonderful, E. I love you so very much. Is this the same outfit you wore at our wedding?”

Kat brushed Beth’s face tenderly. “Yup. I was surprised it still fit.”

“Let’s see if it still comes off the same way.”

Beth pulled the gold jacket off her wife. She unbuttoned the black shirt, revealing a soft, black bra. Beth unfastened the black slacks, uncovering black panties. Kat kicked off her boots and pulled her lover’s tank top over her head. The singer was rewarded by the sight of soft breasts. Kat removed Beth’s shorts and panties. When the clothing was gone, Kat lifted her wife into her arms and placed her gently on the bed. She lowered herself into Beth’s embrace.

Beth asked breathlessly, “Where’s your wedding ring? Did you bring it?”

Kat nodded and walked over to her pants, taking the gold band out of the pocket. She returned to the bed and held it out for her wife. Beth took the ring and held Kat’s left hand.

She slipped the band onto Kat’s ring finger. “Tonight, I take you, Kat Green, as my wife. I pledge my loyalty, my love, my life to you. I have loved you for my entire adult life. We’ve been through so much. But, we’re still here, stronger than ever. I am proud of you. I want to spend the rest of my life loving you, making love with you, taking care of you, and raising our daughters together. You are my great romantic hero and the only woman I will ever love. I never want to be apart from you again.”

Kat wiped the tears from her own eyes. “Thank you.”

Kat covered her wife’s lips with her own. The singer’s kisses moved lower, covering Beth’s body. Beth ran her hands through the long, black hair of her partner. Kat settled between her lover’s legs. She entwined her long fingers with the blonde’s smaller ones.

Beth whispered hotly into her wife’s ear. “I want you. I need you now.”

Warmth flooded Kat’s body. The performer kissed Beth passionately.

Beth moaned. “I need you to fill me. I need more than just your fingers. Take me, Kat.”

The singer nodded, stood, and walked over to the dresser. She opened the top drawer and pulled out the dildo and harness that they had recently picked out together. Kat strapped the apparatus in place and returned to her wife.

“Is this what you want, ‘Scilla?”

Beth touched her lover’s face. “Yes.”

Kat entered her lover with just the tip.

Beth gasped and arched into the touch. Kat slowly moved deeper, pumping her hips, back and forth, moving in and out. Beth moaned at the contact. “More, Kat. Deeper.”

The singer thrust her hips harder and faster. Beth wrapped her legs around Kat. She clawed at the tall woman, needing all of her. The two women rocked against one another at a steady pace, grunting and groaning. Pleasure exploded through Beth’s body as she tensed and grabbed Kat, digging her nails into her lover’s back side. The singer cried out in both pleasure and pain. Kat felt her wife’s release and began to slow down.

Beth pleaded, “I’m not done yet. Don’t stop. Keep going.”

Kat resumed her rhythm and pumped into Beth, moving in and out. The singer moved her lips to her lover’s breast. She sucked on them greedily, alternating from one to the other, driving her lover insane with desire. Kat raised up, arching her neck and back as the orgasm claimed her. Her wife’s climax sent Beth over the edge as well. Both women cried out and clutched one another.

Kat collapsed in exhaustion. “Oh wow! That was amazing!”

Beth panted, “Yes, it was. I love you, Kat Green.”

Kat pulled her lover into her arms. “And I love you, Elizabeth Green.”

The couple lay together, satisfied and utterly content. A faint smile adorned both their faces. After several minutes, Kat turned to her wife. “So, when can I move my stuff in?”

“Whenever I decide to let you out of this bed.”

Both women giggled. “Can I bring my Elvis memorabilia?”

“We’ll see.”

Kat kissed her wife softly. “I can be very persuasive.” She wiggled her eyebrows playfully.

Beth grinned. “I just bet you can.”

The couple fell into a blissful sleep in one another’s arms.

The next morning, Beth heard a soft knock on her bedroom door. She looked at her wife sleeping peacefully next to her. She kissed Kat’s cheek and slipped some clothes on. The teacher opened the door and found two smiling faces looking back at her.

Presley and Scout stood at the door excitedly holding a tray of food.

“We made breakfast for y’all,” Presley announced proudly.

Beth kissed her girls on their heads and took the offering. “Thank you very much. You two are so sweet for doing this. Your mom is still asleep, but we’ll be down in a little while. I love you both.”

Scout was excited. “Is she moving back in?”

Beth nodded, “Yes. We’re going to get her things later today.

The little girl beamed. “I’m so glad. I want her to be with us all the time.”

Beth spoke gently to her daughter, “Me too, little one. Me too.”

Chapter 4-That Friend of Mine
(Two Years Later)

Kat and the Tuesday Night Music Club stood on the stage on a hot Saturday in June, playing for a large crowd of people at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Presley stood next to her, playing the mandolin and singing harmony with the group of women. Beth and Scout sat on a blanket on the grass in front, proudly watching their girls on the stage. In her arms, Beth held a baby boy with coal black hair and large brown eyes. Their adopted son was just over a year old. Beth tickled the toddler in overalls and a baseball cap. Kat nearly broke out in laughter more than once during her set as she watched her gleeful little boy from the stage. Six months prior, the couple had picked him up from an orphanage in Russia. Being the lone man in a house full of women, the little angel quickly became spoiled.

After singing several songs, Kat introduced her band members. “Thank y’all for coming out to the festival. I’d like to introduce my band. This is the Tuesday Night Music Club. On the fiddle, we have Natalie. Playing the guitars, are Lainie, Rebecca, and Sarah. It is a special pleasure to introduce our mandolin player, my lovely daughter, Presley. I’m Kat and we’ve got some great music for you here at the festival this weekend. Hang loose and enjoy this beautiful weather. Our next performer is my good friend, and guitar man extraordinaire from Austin, Ian Moore. It’s been great playing for y’all and we’ll see you again tomorrow.”

The group walked off the stage. Kat was busy signing autographs when she heard a familiar voice behind her.

“Kat, could you autograph my hat?”

The singer turned around and her face lit up when she saw John, her former manager. “Hey there, brother.” The friends embraced heartily.

“Hey, Kat, it’s good to see you.”

The singer pulled back. “It’s great to see you too.”

“You sound and look incredible. I can’t believe Presley is so grown up.”

Kat shook her head. “Tell me about it. See this gray hair? She’s dating and driving now and I hate it. It’s making my hair turn this awful color. I make Beth nuts.”

“How is Beth?”

As if on cue, Beth walked around the corner with a very excited little boy, toddling as fast as he could. Kat turned toward them, beaming. “There they are.”

Kat walked over and lifted the baby into her arms. The mother and son giggled together as Kat tickled him. “How’s Mama’s boy? Are you Mama’s boy? Yes you are. Yes you are.”

Beth shook her head, cherishing the sight of the two of them. “Thank you. He wanted to come see you. He’s quite attached to you, you know.”

Kat grinned and kissed her wife on the cheek. “Hi, darlin’.” The little boy played with his mother’s shoulder-length hair.

Beth turned to their old friend. “John, what a wonderful surprise! It’s good to see you.”

The petite blonde wrapped her arms around the giant teddy bear of a man.

“It’s good to see you too, Beth. I’ve missed you both. Who’s this little one?”

“This is Steven James Green. We adopted him about six months ago.”

John cooed at the toddler in Kat’s arms. “He’s beautiful. Let me guess, you named him after James Taylor and Stevie Ray Vaughn.”

Both women laughed. Kat replied, “That’s right. Do you know me or what?”

The man inquired, “How’s little Scout?”

Beth answered, “She’s wonderful, absolutely beautiful. But she’s not so little anymore. She’s almost a teenager and getting more grown up every day. Thank God she takes after me and is much easier to deal with. She’s off with some friends of hers that she met here.” Beth turned to Kat. “Honey, would you mind taking Stevie for a bit? I’d like to check out some of the new vendors. It’s hard to shop when he’s squirming.”

“Of course not. We can trade. You can take my banjo and I’ll take the munchkin. Oh, and honey, if you’re going to sit in the front, don’t tickle the baby. It’s incredibly distracting. I nearly laughed in the middle of my songs.”

Beth bit her lip. “Oops, sorry hon. Thank you for taking him.” She turned to John. “It was so good to see you. Why don’t you come hang out with us in the tent village today. I hope you don’t have to run. We’d like to catch up.”

The manager smiled. “I’ll be there.”

Beth placed a soft kiss on her baby’s cheek and then on Kat’s cheek and walked away. The baby waved and said, “Bye, bye.”

John asked Kat, “So, why did you adopt another child?”

Kat gave her little man a squeeze. “Beth and I got back together. The girls are so much older now. I think we both really missed having a baby in the house. We wanted a third child for a long time but we never did because of my schedule and my problems. We worked out those issues and that missing piece was more evident to both of us. We were concerned about Beth having a baby at her age. It could be safe, but the risk for complications is a lot greater. I didn’t want to take any chances. We talked about adoption for a few months. Lainie and her partner were beginning their adoption paperwork and she was showing me the pamphlets and videos. It just felt right. Everything seemed to come together like it was meant to be. We decided to adopt a baby too.”

Almost on cue, Stevie started playing a game of putting his hands in Kat’s mouth to see if she would bite it. Kat played along and bit his hand lightly when he stuck it in her mouth. John laughed at the exchange.

Kat continued, “Anyhow, we went to Russia with Lainie and her partner and I saw this little guy in a crib. There was just something about him. He reached out to me, literally. Beth and I both fell in love with him. We were there a month until we could get all the processing done. It was easier doing this when I was twenty-eight, but I wouldn’t give up my little man for anything in the world. Plus, I always wondered what it would be like to raise a son. You should see the girls; they fuss over him so much. They adore him as well.”

The little boy pulled his mother’s hair. Kat grimaced and untangled the small fist. “Although, I think I might get my hair cut.”

Both laughed. “That’s wonderful. I don’t think I ever expected to see you quite so content and happy with this low-key life. Don’t you miss being in the spotlight?”

Kat held her son securely. “Let me see, hmmmm. Do I miss thousands of people screaming my name, having my every desire met instantly, the gold records, the fun times with the band, and the ungodly sums of money? No, I honestly don’t. When I’m up to my elbows in baby food or vomit, or God only knows what else, I think to myself there is no place I’d rather be. I’m financially set for the rest of my life, I play music all the time, and most importantly, I get to wake up with my family every morning. I am there for everything that happens. I’m able to tuck him in and sing him to sleep every night. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

John inquired, “So, I take it you’re still sober?”

“On the wagon for three years now. ”

“No slip-ups? No binges?”

Kat shook her head. “Aww, hell no. Just call me Johnny Cash. I walk the line, brother. I have too much to lose and life couldn’t be better. So tell me about you. What’s going on with you?”

John grinned. “That is wonderful. I am so proud of you, pal. Kelly and I got married a year and a half ago. I finally popped the question after eight years. We flew to Vegas that same night. We have a baby boy as well who is the greatest thing in the world.” He pulled out photos and showed them to the singer. “This is John Waylon Carter.”

“He’s gorgeous. Luckily, he looks like Kelly. ” Kat slapped her old friend on the back. “I’m so happy for you. It’s about time you two got married. She’s a good woman, especially if she’s put up with you for so long.” Both friends laughed.

Presley walked up to the old friends and rubbed her little brother’s dark hair. “Hey, Mom. Hey, squirt. Hi, Uncle John, I haven’t seen you in a long time. It’s nice to see you. ”

The man smiled as he hugged his honorary niece. “It’s good to see you too. You were great up there. You’ve gotten so grown up and pretty, just like your mothers.”

Presley grinned shyly. “Thank you.”

Kat turned to her daughter. “Your mother is off shopping, and John and I are going for a walk to catch up. I’ll take little Stevie with me. You’ve got some free time; go have fun. You did a great job, kiddo. Your harmonies were right on.”

Her mother’s opinion meant nearly everything to the teenager. “Thanks, Mom. I’ll be around with some friends. I’ll catch you later.” Before Kat could say it, she added, “I’ll be at the tent by five.”

Kat motioned toward her older daughter, who had walked off. “She’s begging me to produce a CD for her. I’d rather wait until she turns eighteen, but I remember how I was at that age. So, what brings you all the way down here?” Her son was content to play with the gold chain around her neck, drool on her shirt, and make loud baby sounds.

“As you know, every year the Opry has the homecoming for its birthday in October. They want you to perform this year. It’s still some time away, but they want to confirm the lineup so they can begin promoting it.”

Kat took a breath. “The Opry. I’ve missed it. I always felt like I was home when I was on that stage.”

“You belong there, Kat.”

“I’d love to, but let me talk it over with Beth tonight and I’ll give you an answer tomorrow.”

“Sounds good.”

Kat smiled and looked at her son. “What do you think little one? Would you like to go to the Opry? I’ll have to buy you a new cowboy hat to match mine.” The little boy laughed as Kat blew raspberries on his neck.

The family spent the rest of the afternoon with their long time friend.

That night, all the musicians and their families sat around a large campfire in the tent village. The musicians and singers played and sang together; music filled up the summer night. Kat and Presley both played their guitars. Beth sat beside Kat, while holding their little sleeping son. He was tired from a big day of play and discovery. Presley and Scout sat on the other side of the singer. Kat began to play a song she had written for Steven as she watched him sleep one night.

“Dragon Tales and the ‘Water is Wide’
Pirates sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you

Godspeed little man
Sweet dreams little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels’ wings
Godspeed, sweet dreams”

Some of the other musicians began to accompany Kat with their fiddles, mandolins and guitars. Presley knew the song well and came in with harmonies. Kat continued to play her guitar and lovingly watched her little boy, asleep in her wife’s arms. Beth rocked her body smoothly and kissed the top of the small head. Kat’s heart was bursting with love and pride at her wife and children. Soft music rose and floated above the group in the warm summer air.

“The rocket racer’s all tuckered out
Superman’s in pajamas on the couch
Goodbye moon, we’ll find the mouse
And I love you

Godspeed little man
Sweet dreams little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels’ wings
Godspeed, sweet dreams

God Bless Mommy and match box cars
God bless Mama and thanks for the stars
God hears ‘amen’ wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed little man
Sweet dreams little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels’ wings
Godspeed, sweet dreams”

In their tent after the festival campfire, Kat curled her body around Beth while their baby slept in his playpen a couple of feet away. “‘Scilla, what do you think about me performing for homecoming?”

Beth caressed her wife’s arm and turned around slightly. “I think you should do it. The Opry is something special. You aren’t going out on the road for months. You’ll be away for maybe a week.” She touched Kat’s face. “Honey, I know how important this is to you.”

Kat smiled. “You really don’t mind? I was thinking about having Presley perform with me.”

“She would absolutely love it.”

“I would too, actually. I also thought I might write a song with Scout. We can all take a few days off from school and go together. I want you and Scout and Stevie to be there when Presley and I sing.”

Beth gently pressed her lips to Kat’s. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

The following October, Kat stood backstage at the Opry with her band. Kat, Beth and the kids were welcomed by their old friends and fellow performers. Everyone cooed over the new addition to the family. Presley and the rest of the band were nervous. Kat wore black slacks, black t-shirt, a black leather jacket that went just above her knees, and a black cowboy hat. Black boots completed the ensemble.

Beth held their little boy and watched her lover being interviewed live on a national broadcast. She couldn’t help admiring Kat’s poise and beauty.

“We’re here live at the Grand Old Opry with singer Kat Green, who’s making her first national appearance in almost three years. Kat, it’s good to see you again. You’ve been gone for so long, what have you been up to?”

Kat grinned charmingly. “Thank you. It feels good to be back. Everyone here feels like family and it’s been wonderful seeing everyone this week. I’ve had the most incredible times here at the Opry. This has always been a special place to me. As for what I’m doing now, I own a music store in Austin, I’ve been raising my kids, and I produce local artists on my own label, Lone Star Music.”

“You have a new band too, don’t you? Will we be seeing any new Kat Green music soon?”

“Yes, I do have a new band, the Tuesday Night Music Club. I brought them with me also. I’m looking at recording an acoustic bluegrass CD with them.”

“We also heard you have a special guest performing with you tonight.”

Kat smiled proudly. “That’s right. My daughter, Presley, is performing with me tonight. I’m just so pleased to have her with me. This is her first time to actually sing on stage here and I seriously doubt it will be her last. She spent much of her childhood running around backstage here. She’ll play with my band for our first number. For my second number, I’ll be doing a brand new song with her that I co-wrote with my younger daughter, Scout.”

“I see you have a new addition to your family since we saw you last. Tell us about your little boy.”

Kat beamed when talking about her pride and joy. “We adopted our son in Russia almost a year ago. His name is Steven James Green. He’s the only man in the house, so he gets lots of attention from his big sisters. This is his first time here at the Opry.”

“It’s just a family night for you here then?”

Kat looked at her wife. “Yes, it is. I’m very blessed to have such a wonderful and talented family.”

Kat noticed Presley waving to her, signaling that it was almost time to perform.

The interviewer smiled. “Looks like you’re wanted on stage. Thank you for talking to me. It really is good to see you again.”

“Thank you, Kim. It’s good to see you as well. You look wonderful.”

Kat stood offstage while her band walked on and prepared to perform. As Presley was about to walk out to plug in her guitar, Kat stopped her.

“How do you feel?”

“Like I’m going to throw up.”

Kat chuckled. “You’ll be fine. I love you and I’m very proud of you. Enjoy this. Nothing compares to the first time you walk on that stage and sing into those old microphones. Think of all the amazing people who have come before you on this stage. They all felt the way you do right now the first time they played here. This is the greatest gift I will ever give you; this is your destiny, Presley. I know how much you want this. I can see it in your eyes. I had that same hungry look when I was your age. After tonight, if you want, we can start working on your first CD. You’re a damn fine player and singer and your songwriting is developing nicely. I’m glad you’re with me. You look beautiful and you are so talented, you blow me away. Now go on out there and plug in your guitar and I’ll be out as soon as they announce me.”

Presley looked at her mother, trying not to cry, “Thanks, Mom, for everything. I’m glad I’m here with you too.”

The singer forced herself not to cry, knowing her voice would tighten if she did. “Go on and set up.”

Beth walked up to the performer after watching the exchange. “You look beautiful. You’re a really great mom, you know that?”

Kat smiled. “Thanks.”

The emcee for the night stood in front of the microphone and introduced the singer. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce our next performer. She’s been gone for too long and it is so good to have her home. She’s one of my favorites and I’m happy to see my old friend tonight. Y’all give a nice warm welcome to Kat Green.”

Electricity shot through Kat’s body as she walked out onto the stage with her guitar strapped around her body. The audience erupted in cheers and applause. Kat was humbled by the reception. “Thank y’all so much for the warm welcome. It’s such a pleasure to be here tonight for the Opry’s birthday. I’ve missed this old place. I’ll tell y’all, one of the greatest nights of my life was the night I was inducted as a member here. I’ve listened to the Opry on the radio on Saturday nights since I was a little girl. This old place is very special to me. For my first song tonight, I’d like to sing a hit from a few years ago, “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas”.

Kat’s band and the Opry house band broke into a western swing. Kat grinned and began to sing.

“You say you’re not from Texas
Man as if I couldn’t tell
You think you pull your boots on right
And wear your hat so well

So pardon me my laughter
‘Cause I sure do understand
Even Moses got excited
When he saw that promised land

That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

See I was born and raised in Texas
And it means so much to me
Though my girl comes from down in Georgia
We were up in Tennessee

And as we were driving down the highway
She asked me ‘baby what’s so great
How come you’re always going on
About your Lone Star State’

I said that’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway”

Beth and Scout watched their family from backstage. Beth held the squirming little boy in her arms. Steven was excited watching his mother and sister. He reached and called out, “Mama, Mama pway.”

Beth smiled at her son. “Shhh, little one. Mama will be back in a minute. Listen to Mama sing.” The doting mother turned to her daughter. “Your mother and sister look so beautiful and they sound incredible. I can’t wait to hear that song you wrote. I wish y’all would have let me hear it before tonight.”

Scout smiled and played with her brother. “You’ll like it. It’s a surprise. We wrote it for you and I was told I would be doing the yuck jobs at the store if I let the cat out of the bag. You’ll just have to wait to hear it.”

Beth grinned and put her arm around her daughter who was now the same height. “That’s sweet, thank you. Now I really can’t wait to hear it.”

They continued to listen as Kat finished her first song.

“So won’t you let me help you mister
Just pull your hat down the way I do.”
Kat smiled and adjusted her hat when she sang the words.
“And buy your pants just a little longer
And next time somebody laughs at you

You just tell ’em you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
That’s right, you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

That’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway
Texas wants you anyway.”

The audience clapped and cheered as the band walked off the stage. Kat removed her guitar and handed it to one of the stagehands. She picked up the mandolin from the stand and placed the strap over her shoulder.

“Thank you very much. This next song is very special to me. It’s a new one that I wrote with my younger daughter, Scout. It’s also special because I get to sing it with my older daughter, Presley. I hope you like it.”

Presley began to play the slower song on her guitar and her mother joined in, playing lead on the mandolin. Kat looked offstage and winked at her wife and daughter.

“That friend of mine wears an old work shirt
For a long, long time she has blessed this earth
With a smile that shines even when she hurts
Oh, how I love that friend of mine.

That friend of mine gave her heart to me
Oh how sweet and kind oh the truth can be
With God’s ties that bind us as family
Oh how I love that friend of mine”

Presley joined her mother with the harmonies.
“She’s an angel
She’s the answer
The sweetest piece of heaven in my eyes
She’s drawn to me like gravity
I’d lay down and die for that friend of mine

She’s an angel
She’s the answer
The sweetest piece of heaven in my eyes
She’s drawn to me like gravity
I’d lay down and die for that friend of mine
I’d lay down and die for that friend of mine
That friend of mine wears an old work shirt.”

The song ended and the audience applauded loudly, showing their appreciation. Kat beamed at her older daughter with pride as Beth hugged their younger daughter and cried tears of joy.

Kat placed her arm around Presley as they walked offstage. “Good job, sweetheart. You were the ultimate professional. I love you. We’ll start working on the CD whenever you’re ready.”

The teenager grinned. “Thanks, Mom. I love you too.”

The toddler was excited to see his mama and came running into her arms. The singer picked up her son and cradled him close to her while Beth wrapped her arms around her older daughter.

Kat kissed her son on the nose. “Hey there, little man. Did you like my singing?”

“Mama sing good.”

“I’m glad you liked it, sweet boy.”

She handed her mandolin to Scout and placed a soft kiss on her head. “Well done, Scout. You did a wonderful job with those lyrics. I’m proud of you, darlin’.”

The singer held Beth gently with their son between them. Kat tenderly lifted her wife’s face and kissed her softly as the next performers brushed past them.

Beth peered into her lover’s eyes. “That was the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard. Thank you.”

Kat smiled at her partner. “I’ll love you forever, ‘Scilla.”

The baby broke the serious mood by taking Kat’s hat and placing it on his own head. “‘Tevie sing too.”

The couple laughed and poured their affection onto the rambunctious toddler in their arms.

 

 

The End

Read, She Is. It is a prequel to Three Days.

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