Our Reunion



Chapter 47


There was quite a bit of traffic on the trip to Sarasota, particularly in the vicinity of the large outlet mall in Ellenton. People were out in droves getting a start on their holiday shopping and the cars slowed to a crawl for several miles. Tina became concerned that the delay might cause them to be late. Glancing at the clock on the dashboard as they exited the interstate, she was relieved to see they still had plenty of time.






Sam cuddled the stuffed animal she had been holding on her lap. “I really like my teddy bear.”


“I’ve noticed that.”


“Know what my favorite thing about it is?”


“It reminds you of me?”


“It certainly does.” She held the bear out and examined it. “It’s ALMOST as cute as you.” But that’s not my FAVORITE thing. “You know what else?”




“The card.”




“Yes.” Sam looked at the heart-shaped tag dangling from the bear’s ear for what must have been the hundredth time. Love, T.


“I… umm… I’m glad you like it.”


Sam grinned at the slight blush that accompanied the answer, amazed that, with just a few words, she could elicit such a response in a woman most people found intimidating. And I love that I’m able to do it.


A horn honked as they turned the final corner. “It’s Mike!” Sam waved at the minivan passing in the opposite direction. “He usually takes Josh and Aaron somewhere when we have band practice. A ‘boys night out’ kind of thing.”


Tina pulled into the driveway. The garage door was open and she could see Lisa inside setting up her keyboard.


“Park behind me.” Sam pointed at the Toyota that was sheltered under a carport extending from the side of the building. “The guys will need enough space to back the truck in.”




The BMW was moved to the designated spot and they began unloading the trunk. Tina slung her backpack over her shoulder before grabbing the guitar and amplifier. “You want these in the garage?”


“Yeah.” Sam lifted the duffel bag, which was substantially lighter now, with approximately half of its former contents in one of the dresser drawers at the condo.


“Hi!” Lisa greeted the women and hurried across the driveway to give her sister a hug. “Nice to have you home.”




“How about some coffee? I can put on a pot of decaf.”


“We’ll be right there after we put my stuff away.”


“Great! I’ll get it started.” Lisa headed into the house.


They put the musical equipment in the garage and went upstairs. Tina unlocked the door and pushed it open, letting the smaller woman enter first.


Sam stepped inside and suddenly stopped short, gawking at the living room. “Lisa is a sweetheart!” The area had been vacuumed and dusted, the faint smell of lemon furniture polish present in the crisp fall air that came from the partially opened windows. She rushed over to peek into the bedroom. “It’s all straightened up in here, too!” she exclaimed happily, going in and depositing her duffel bag and teddy bear on the neatly made bed.


Tina followed, chuckling at her partner’s excitement. “You ready to go have some coffee and tell her how wonderful she is?”


“Not yet.” Sam crooked an index finger and beckoned for Tina to come closer. “We have something VERY important to do first.”


“We do?” I don’t think we have time for this… Lisa’s waiting…


The enticing smile Tina received in reply made it impossible to resist the summons. She set her backpack on the desk and eagerly complied.


Rising up on tiptoes, Sam put her arms around the tall woman’s neck and kissed her.


It was one of those tender kisses that always sent Tina’s heart racing. She immediately forgot about coffee, sisters and anything other than the pleasurable sensations she was feeling.


Sam broke the embrace, anxious to explain what the important thing was. A flushed face and blue eyes that had darkened a shade gazed back at her. Uh oh…


“Moooore.” Tina leaned in for another kiss.


“Wait!” Sam put her hands between them and moved backward a step. “I have a… request.”


Tina raised an eyebrow. Well, THIS is interesting. With a rakish grin, she perused Sam’s body from head to toe and back again, before replying in a deep, sensuous voice, “Name it.”


Goodness, now I know what it means to have someone undress you with their eyes. “It’s not THAT kind of request.” Sam laughed, reaching into her pocket and pulling out the silver key she had recently acquired. “I wanted to know if you’d put this on my key ring for me.”


“Will I get another one of those kisses as a reward?”




Tina quickly plucked the shiny piece of metal from the blonde’s hand. “You’ve got a deal.”


They found the key ring on the table near the door. Tina added the condo key, positioning it next to the apartment’s brass one. She displayed the completed project with a flourish.


“Together,” Sam indicated the location of the keys on the ring, “just like us.” 


“Yes.” Tina wrapped her arms around the younger woman. “I seem to recall hearing something about a reward…”


Lisa looked out the kitchen window, wondering if her sister had changed her mind about the coffee. Just then, the couple came outside and descended the stairs. Sam held Tina’s hand as they started across the walkway. They both looked euphoric.


Ah… new love… there’s nothing like it. Lisa opened the door for her guests. “Come on in.”


“Sis!” Sam hugged Lisa. “Thanks for cleaning my place!”


“You’re welcome. I know how devoted you are to your housework, but I thought, under the circumstances, you wouldn’t mind if I helped a little.”


“Yeah, right.” Sam good-naturedly accepted the customary teasing about her domestic habits. “Like there are circumstances when I WOULDN’T want somebody to clean my house?”


The women prepared their cups of coffee and sat down, enjoying their drinks as Lisa recounted the events of Thanksgiving dinner with the Whitwells. “… and then Joshua said, ‘She’s Auntie Sam’s girlfriend.’”


Tina almost spewed her mouthful of coffee all over the table.  


Sam was momentarily speechless.


Lisa continued the story, knowing it was necessary for her sister to be aware of what had occurred, even if it was upsetting to hear. “Mom dropped the glass and fainted…”


“Fainted?” Sam asked incredulously, finding it hard to believe that her mother was capable of such a thing.


“Yes, but just for a few seconds. We got her to the couch, gave her some water and she was fine.”


“Oh, my God.” Mom will be furious with me… my absence ruined her holiday gathering.


“There was a lot of confusion, some people were hovering over Mother, others were cleaning up the broken glass, and the boys got into a fight.” Lisa sighed. “Evidently, Aaron had told Josh about you two and sworn him to secrecy.”


“I’m sorry,” Sam said sadly. “ I never …”


“Don’t apologize,” the older sibling interrupted. “You haven’t done anything wrong. And now that everybody knows, maybe we can finally move past this and get back to being a family again.”


“Do you really think so?”


“Well, Mom’s worst fear was that the relatives would find out. She probably figured sooner or later you’d come to your senses, meet a nice guy and no one would have to know about this ‘phase’ you went through. That’s no longer an issue, thanks to Joshua.” Lisa looked at Tina. “I’d appreciate it if you’d talk to him. He’s terribly worried that you’ll be mad when you find out what happened.”


“Mad? At him?”


“He doesn’t really understand what all the fuss is about,” Lisa explained, “but he knows how angry Aaron is. And Mom… he thought he’d caused her to have a heart attack or something. It took us awhile to convince him that she wasn’t seriously injured.”


“Maybe not physically,” Sam commented quietly, “but emotionally…”


Tina reached for the blonde’s hand. “She’s a strong woman. She’ll get over it.”


“Yeah,” Sam managed a small grin. “I just hope it’s during my lifetime.”


“Don’t we all!” Lisa, grateful for a chance to change the subject, went to the counter and picked up one of the CDs stacked next to a boom box. “I have a new song for you to sing.” She laid the plastic case on the table in front of her sister.


Sam looked at the cover, recognizing the artist from a music channel on television. “COUNTRY?”


“It’s not COUNTRY country,” Lisa clarified. You’re going to love it.


“Which song?”


“Track 7.”


Sam turned the case over and read the title. “I guess I can give it a try.”


Lisa smiled. “Why don’t you take the CD with you and listen to it before practice? We can run through the song tonight.”


“Okay. We should get going then.”


The couple expressed their gratitude for the coffee and returned to the apartment. They sat on the couch, snuggling together silently.


Tina stroked the pale-haired head resting against her shoulder. She’s way too quiet. “Are you all right?”


“Honestly? …No.” 


“You know what I think?” Not that I have ANY idea what to do in a situation like this.




“Give your mom some time to sort things out. She’ll come to the realization that the world didn’t end when people found out her daughter is gay. Then, call her to say hi… don’t even mention Thanksgiving… and see how it goes.”


“I suppose I can do that.” Sam raised her head and looked at Tina. “As long as you’re here when I call her.”


“I promise.” And if she starts reprimanding you… I’ll take that phone and…


“I feel better already.” Sam smiled, her mood much improved now that she had a course of action.


“Good.” Tina felt immensely pleased with herself for lifting the woman’s spirits.


“It’s almost time for practice. I need to listen to that CD my sister gave me.”


“Let’s hear it.”


Sam went over and put the disc in the stereo. “Country music is not really my thing,” she remarked while advancing the player to the seventh track, “but Lisa has a fondness for it and keeps trying to convert me.” The musician was just about to press the play button when the phone rang. She picked up the receiver. “Hello? ”


“Hi, Sammie.”


“Hi, Dad!”


Not wanting to eavesdrop on the conversation, Tina wandered into the kitchen. We’re going to need something for dinner. A quick inventory revealed a nearly empty refrigerator, a freezer containing ice cream and frozen dinners, and cabinets bountifully stocked with microwave popcorn and Ring Dings. I bet there’s not a single vitamin lurking among the so-called food items in this house. A trip to the grocery store is in order.


She ambled into the bedroom and got her backpack. Feeling the weight of it, she remembered slipping some clothing in the bag when Sam had been in the bathroom at the condo. Pulling open the top drawer of the dresser, Tina shook her head at the disorderly jumble of garments. She tried each drawer, eventually finding enough space in one of them to place her tidily folded things in the left-hand corner. Well… this is another first. Closing the drawer, she studied her reflection in the mirror above the dresser. I may look the same on the outside, but everything’s changed since the day I met her. A smile edged onto her face as she thought about the vivacious blonde flirting with her at the reunion. And I’ve learned that change can definitely be a good thing.


“She’s wonderful, Dad. I can’t wait for you to meet her.” Sam grinned as the topic of discussion came into view. “Okay… yeah, I’ll call you soon. Bye bye.” She hung up the phone and swiftly crossed the room to hug the dark-haired woman. “My dad is coming to visit after New Year’s!”


“That’s nice.” Tina inwardly groaned. MORE family to contend with?  


“Yeah, I’ve missed him a lot since he moved to Atlanta.”


Atlanta? “Does he visit often?”


“A couple of times a year… sometimes more when his schedule allows it. He plays in a popular jazz band and they have very steady work. They’re booked solid for the holidays, but they have some time off coming up in January.” Green eyes were sparkling. “I told him all about you.”


“You did?” Let’s hope he doesn’t own a gun.


“Yes.” Sam laughed. “He’s a great dad. You’ll like him.” She looked questioningly at the backpack Tina was holding. “Are you going somewhere?”


“I thought I’d go to the grocery store and get something for dinner.” And breakfast… and lunch…


“Oh! I’m sorry. I usually don’t have much here.”


“That’s all right. I don’t mind. I just figured I should leave before the guys bring the truck and block me in.”


“Okay… but will you come downstairs later and let me introduce you to them?”


“I guess so.”


“They’re cool. Don’t worry.”


“I’ll… try.”


Sam didn’t press the subject, knowing that meeting new people wasn’t easy for the aloof woman. “Well, I’d better listen to that song Lisa gave me.”


“I’ll be back in a little while.” Tina bent down for a quick kiss. “Bye.”


“Bye.” Sam went to the window and watched until the BMW had backed out of the driveway before pressing the play button on the stereo. The song began with a twanging guitar and she rolled her eyes as she opened the lyrics sheet from inside the CD cover.


Tina took her time, strolling up and down the aisles of the supermarket, filling the cart with a variety of foods that would keep both women well fed for at least a week. Arriving at the check-out line she instructed the employee to put as much as possible in each bag, realizing she was going to have to carry the ample amount of supplies up the stairs when she got home. Home. Tina smiled. I finally have a home… though I never suspected it would be a person rather than a place.




“Oh, thanks.” Tina took the receipt the clerk had been attempting to hand her and pushed the cart out to the car. She loaded the groceries into the trunk, mentally deciding which bags she would carry together when she got back to the apartment. She planned well and it only took three trips to unload the car, which she’d had to park on the street in front of Lisa’s house because the driveway was full. Uncapping a bottle of water, she drank a good portion of it before beginning to put the provisions away. Clearly able to hear the band playing in the garage beneath her, she hummed along to the mixture of holiday tunes and top forty songs they were practicing.


It was over an hour later when Tina was finished in the kitchen. Dinner was ready to be heated up and two dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies sat on a large platter, waiting to be discovered. Meanwhile, the band had begun working on some new songs and there was much starting, stopping and repeating of the music. Occasionally, Tina could faintly hear the boom box playing whatever selection it was they were learning. The current one had a catchy melody that sounded a bit country-ish and Tina assumed it was the song Lisa had suggested. Yes, that’s Samantha singing… but she’s not using the mike. The woman strained to hear the words. I may as well go down there. I need to meet these people anyway. She strode to the door.


“I think we’ve got it,” Lisa addressed the group. “Let’s run through the whole thing.”


Sam picked up the microphone, holding it in one hand and the lyrics in the other. The band played the introduction and she began singing.


“If I could grant you one wish

I’d wish you could see the way you kiss

Ooh, I love watching you, baby

When you’re driving me crazy


Ooh, I love the way you… love the way you love me

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be

To feel the way I feel with your arms around me

I only wish that you could see… the way you love me

Whoa oh oh, the way you love me”


Sam glanced up and was so surprised to see Tina standing in the entryway of the garage that she missed the next line.


“……………………….  umm

Someday I’ll find a way to show you

Just how lucky I am to know you


Ooh, I love the way you… love the way you love me

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be

To feel the way I feel with your arms around me

I only wish that you could see… the way you love me

Whoa oh oh the way you love me”


Tina took a seat on the large black equipment box just inside the doorway.


“You’re the million reasons why

There’s love reflecting in my eyes”


Sam laid the lyrics sheet on her amplifier and slowly walked toward Tina, still singing into the microphone.


“Ooh, I love the way you… love the way you love me

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be”


She moved in close and lightly brushed her fingers along the side of Tina’s face.


“To feel the way I feel with your arms around me

I only wish that you could see… the way you love me

Whoa oh, oh, the way you love me”


Lisa, Robbie and Bryon joined in for a repeat of the chorus. Sam, who was supposed to be singing several phrases over their lines, sang nothing. Everything faded into the background as she lost herself in the beautiful blue eyes staring back at her. All sense of time and place vanished as she kissed the woman she loved.


At some point, Sam became conscious of the fact that there was no music playing. She pulled back from the kiss and looked in the direction of the band. The group was fanning themselves with CD cases and grinning from ear to ear. They began to applaud, cheer and whistle at the pair, whose faces reddened in embarrassment.


Sam put her hands on her hips and smirked at the musicians, “All right! I’ll admit it. I’m developing an…. appreciation… for country music. Is everyone happy now?”


“Yes!” Kyle replied. “But apparently, not as happy as YOU.”


The rest of the band heartily agreed.


“Well, after that passionate… rendition, I think we could all use a cold drink.” Lisa led the assemblage over to the patio, where there was a cooler filled with ice-cold beverages. Everyone relaxed on cushioned deck chairs and Sam introduced Tina to Robbie, Kyle and Bryon before turning the conversation to details about the next gig. Tina sat back and listened as the group chatted for a while, the comfortable dialogue and friendly banter plainly showing the affection they had for one another.


“Hi, everyone!” Mike opened the screen door and the boys dashed into the patio.


Joshua ran directly to Tina. “HI!”


“Hi, Josh!” She ruffled his hair. “I’ve missed you.”


“I missed you, too.”


The noise level rose as Mike talked with the band members and Aaron animatedly told his mother about their excursion. Tina bent forward and spoke softly in Joshua’s ear, “Been having a rough time lately?”


The boy nodded.


“Want to talk about it?”


Big brown eyes became wet with tears. Another nod.




“Dad said we had to get ready for bed as soon as we got home. Will you come up and tuck me in?”


“Sure. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”


“You won’t forget, will you?”


“No, I won’t forget.” Tina watched the boy go inside. What the heck am I going to say to him?


“He’s adorable, isn’t he?” Sam asked.


“Yes.” He takes after his aunt. 


“Sam! Tina!” Mike smiled at the women. “Glad to see you again.”


“Thanks.” Sam took hold of Tina’s hand. “It’s nice to be back. How was your evening with the boys?”


“The miniature golf was okay, but I NEVER thought I’d get them out of that arcade.”


“Uh huh… and how many games of air hockey did YOU play?”


“Well… there was this teenager in there that thought he was a hot-shot. SOMEBODY had to teach him a lesson, right?”


“Right.” Sam grinned as she stood up, tugging her partner along with her. “If you’ll excuse us, Mr. Air Hockey Champion-of-the-World, I’m going to show Tina where Joshua’s room is. She needs to talk to him before he falls asleep.”


“Ah,” Mike nodded in understanding. “Good luck.”


The women went through the kitchen and hallway to the staircase.


“It’s the first door on the left.” Sam gestured to the second floor.


“What do I say to him?”


“You’ll think of something. I trust you.”


Reluctantly, Tina climbed the steps. She poked her head in the boy’s room and looked around. There were posters of superheroes covering large sections of the walls. Action figures were arranged on shelves over a student-sized desk. A bookshelf was overflowing with books and toys.


“Hi!” Joshua came out of the bathroom. He flipped the light switch off, leaving only a small lamp on the nightstand casting a dim glow near the bed.


“Hi.” Tina ventured inside.


“I’m glad you didn’t forget.” The boy got under the covers.


“I wouldn’t forget you, would I?”


“I dunno. I thought you might be… mad.”


Tina sat on the edge of the bed. “I’m not angry with you.”


“But… Grandma fell down… and Aaron said he’s never gonna tell me anything important again.”


“What did you do that was so wrong?”


“I… I said you were Auntie Sam’s girlfriend.”


“You’re absolutely correct. I AM your aunt’s girlfriend.” Tina paused, trying to decide how much more she should say. “Do you know what that means?”


“You kiss and do mushy stuff like Mom and Dad.”


Yup… he knows. “And are you okay with that?”


“Sure.” The boy smiled at Tina. “Auntie Sam always tells me how special love is.”


“Indeed it is.”


“Then why did everyone get upset?”


“Well,” Tina racked her brains for a tactful explanation. “Remember when we talked about how some people won’t agree with your opinions?”




“Well, there are people who don’t like that your aunt and I are… together.”


“Grandma doesn’t like it. That’s why Aaron told me to keep it a secret. But on Thanksgiving, I forgot.”


“It’s all right, Joshua. You should never be ashamed of telling the truth.”


“So, you’re really not mad?”






“I guess I ought to let you get to sleep…”


“Will you tell me a story first?”


“A story?”




The woman looked over at the bookshelf. “Which is your favorite book?”


“I’d rather have a made-up story… like Auntie Sam does.”




“She tells the BEST stories. There’s usually someone in trouble and a hero comes and saves the day.”


Tina smiled, picturing Samantha telling the boy a lively tale that would hold him spellbound. “I’m not sure I could invent one like that.”


Joshua tilted his head to the side and asked hopefully, “Please?”


Sighing in defeat, Tina collected her thoughts and began. “Once upon a time…”



To be continued…



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