Tina walked up the driveway with a plastic grocery bag in each hand. She frowned at the Gator flag hanging from the garage.
The shouting drew her attention to Lisas yard where she saw Aaron and Joshua fighting. Aaron had the smaller boy pinned on the ground.
Hey! Tina put the bags on the steps to Sams apartment and ran to the children. She pulled the boys apart.
Lisa came out of the house. Whats going on here?
He he hit me. Joshua was crying.
Aaron, weve talked about this before, she scolded her older son.
I TOLD him to stop that stupid tomahawk chant. He likes the Seminoles, Mom. Hes supposed to cheer for the Gators! He glared at his brother. He never even LIKED football before and now he wants THEM to win!
Lisa crossed her arms and looked at Tina, who was standing there guiltily in her FSU tee shirt. Any bright ideas, Ms. Florida State?
Umm Where is Samantha? Im sure we can get this straightened out. How about I talk to Joshua?
All right. Lisa took Aaron by the arm. YOU come with me. They went into the house.
Tina looked down at Josh, who was still sniffling. Lets go sit on the steps, okay?
The boy nodded and followed the tall woman. She moved the grocery bags out of the way and they sat down.
We were just playing around and then Aaron he started saying, Gators rule! Gators rule! I said the Seminoles were gonna win and did the FSU chant. He got mad and he hit me.
Hmm What do people tell children in situations like this?
You want the Seminoles to win, right?
Then it should be okay for me to want them to win, too.
Its perfectly all right for you to cheer for any team you choose.
Aaron doesnt think so.
Joshua, during your life, you are going to meet people who want you to think the same way they do. They get an idea into their heads and believe they are so right that they try to make everyone else think the same thing. She looked at the confused expression on the boys face. Im not doing very well here.
I dont care what Aaron thinks. I want the Seminoles to win.
Thats good, Josh. You should stick to what you believe in. But
The door opened above them and Sam poked her head out. Hi! I thought I heard someone talking out here. Mind if I join you?
Not at all. Thank goodness help has arrived.
Sam sat on the step behind Tina. Whats up?
The boys got into an argument. Were trying to sort things out Im glad youre here.
Aaron hit me! Joshua piped in.
Tina sighed. What we need to discuss is how to handle it when you disagree with someone. Fighting is NOT the solution.
Aaron started it.
Well lets look at that. Your brother was expressing his feelings about the game. You kind of challenged him by doing the FSU chant. He took that to mean you didnt respect his opinion.
He doesnt respect MY opinion.
Well, thats something you have to learn to deal with. What happens is when you tell people what YOU think, sometimes they will respect your opinion and sometimes they wont.
Tina glanced over her shoulder. Feel free to jump in here anytime. Please.
Joshua, Sam looked affectionately at her nephew, your mom and I used to argue all the time when we were kids. But as adults, were the best of friends. That will probably happen with you and Aaron, too. For now, youre going to have to learn to get along with him as best you can. Try to let the little things go, rather than arguing with him and if you think its something important, you may want to wait till your mom or dad are around to talk about it. They can help you two work out your disagreements without fighting.
Auntie Sam, he picks on me because Im younger he does stuff on purpose to make me mad.
Your mom did the same thing to me. I guess it goes with being the oldest.
Tina ventured back into the conversation. I I had a younger brother.
Joshua was immediately interested. Did you tease him?
Oh, yes very much. But he found a way to get me back.
What did he do?
Well, sometimes he would ignore me and keep doing whatever he was doing. But the thing that REALLY got me was when he would just smile like whatever I was saying didnt bother him at all or like he knew something I didnt.
Josh giggled. I could try that.
Well, it certainly worked for my brother. I usually gave up and stomped off. It was no fun annoying him when he didnt get upset.
Are you friends with him now that youre grown up?
He he died a while ago I miss him very much.
Joshua threw his arms around the dark-haired woman. Im sorry.
Its all right. Tina spoke softly. What you need to remember is that Aaron loves you even though he may tease you and make you miserable sometimes. Having a brother is a special thing. She pulled back from the embrace, so she could look in his eyes. Can you remember that?
The child nodded, a somber expression on his face.
You feel a little better now?
Joshua! Lisa called from the patio. Time to come in!
I have to go bye! He ran across the yard and into the house.
Sam moved down a step and sat next to Tina. You were very good with him.
Are you kidding? I was sweating bullets if you hadnt shown up
You were doing just fine... Sam looked out at the driveway. Wheres your car?
Its on the street in front of the house. There was no way I was going to park it under that flag.
Sam shook her head. Youre as bad as my nephews.
I promise not to get in a fistfight with Mike.
Im relieved to hear that.
Tinas face brightened. The Seminoles are going to win!
You think so?
Yes. A big smile.
I LOVE the Seminoles, Sam said enthusiastically.
Oh, yes. She leaned in close. Because they make you smile like that. She gave Tina a quick kiss before standing and picking up the grocery bags. Cmon, lets get dinner started.
The women went into the house and began preparing their meal, chatting as they moved about the small kitchen. Tina talked about the New Zealand trip she had prepared for Vivians clients and Sam discussed the busy holiday schedule the orchestra had coming up. Once the salad was made and the lasagna was in the oven, they went to sit on the balcony.
We missed the sunset. Sam sounded disappointed as she sat in her chair. I like it much better during daylight savings time when the sun sets later.
Tina stretched out on the other lounger. Yeah, but look at all the stars out there its a beautiful sky tonight see the constellations?
Yes. I never figured you for a stargazer. Theres so much more to you than you let people see.
They relaxed quietly for a while, until Sams curiosity about their earlier phone call prompted her to speak. Tina?
Will you tell me about your nickname?
Oh sure. Why dont you come over here? She patted the space next to her on the chair. Ill need you near me for this.
Sam happily fulfilled the request. She laid half in the empty space and half on the reclined woman, resting her head on a strong shoulder. They snuggled for several minutes, both of them enjoying the physical closeness. Strengthened by the presence of the small woman, Tina began.
My given name is Christina, though for as long as I can remember, people have called me Tina. My brother umm as soon as he was able to make sounds, he would try to talk to me. You know babbling like babies do. Then, when he started to walk, he toddled after me everywhere I went, jabbering away.
She paused, suddenly aware of the lump in her throat. After all these years why is it still so hard to talk about him? She kissed the top of the blonde head tucked against her. She makes it easier, though. I umm he followed me around calling to me T he couldnt say my whole name, but he sure had the T part down. And as we grew up, it just kind of stuck. It was a special thing between us. He he was the only one who ever called me T.
Sam lifted her head and looked into blue eyes that revealed pain, sorrow and the vulnerability that was usually kept well hidden. Thats a wonderful story and such a nice memory for you to have Im so glad you told me.
Tina lightly brushed the back of her hand against Sams cheek. Umm I was thinking if you want to you could call me T.
I I Overcome with emotion and unable to string any words together, Sam used a tender kiss to convey the depth of her feelings.
Tina tried to catch her breath after the kiss. Wow I assume that means yes?
Y yes. The barely audible response was accompanied by an emphatic nod.
I Ive missed this. Tina pushed a few stray hairs behind Sams ear and let her fingers linger along the side of the younger womans face. I need this.
Hearing the words of agreement that had become a frequent part of her life lately, Tina smiled. Is there some name you prefer other than Samantha?
Okay I was just asking.
I I love the way you say my name.
Not half as much as I love saying it. Really?
Sam laid her head back down and nuzzled Tinas neck. Mmmm hmmm.
The oven timer buzzed.
The women reluctantly got up from their comfortable place on the lounge chair. Moving to the kitchen, they fixed their plates and brought their dinner into the living room. They watched a popular new game show on TV while they ate, having fun trying to pick the correct answer out of the four choices given for each question. Both of them did well in certain categories like current events, old TV shows and pop culture from the 60s to the present. Tina knew all the math answers and anything to do with world or ancient history. Naturally, Sam was a whiz at anything related to music and she was also quite knowledgeable about movies. Between the two of them, they got most of the questions right.
If they allowed team competition, wed win a million dollars! Sam exclaimed as the women went into the kitchen and put their empty plates in the sink.
I doubt that.
Sam got the tin foil from the cabinet and began covering the leftover food. Can you imagine what it would feel like winning that much money?
Tina came up behind the blonde and wrapped her arms around her. She murmured into the shorter womans ear. I think it would feel like when Im with you.
Sam dropped the foil on the counter, leaned back against Tina and placed her hands over the larger ones that were holding her. She closed her eyes, allowing herself a quiet moment to absorb the words. Do you remember the first time you held me like this?
Yes when I caught up with you at the beach.
Yeah you run pretty fast I had a big head start! Sam tried to turn and long arms loosened their grip so she could. She looked at Tinas grinning face. And then, when we stood like this I wanted hoped you might kiss me.
Would you like me to do that now? Umm you know what they say better late than never.
I GUESS I can give you a second chance.
Tina slowly bent down to give Sam a gentle kiss. However, once she started, she found it difficult to restrain her feelings. It became lengthy and passionate.
It took Sam a minute to recover enough to speak coherently. If you had kissed me like that on the beach I probably wouldve fainted! In fact, Im feeling a little weak in the knees right now.
Im sorry. I didnt mean to get so carried away.
Im NOT complaining. Sam smiled. Lets just make sure that this time, were BOTH ready before we take it any further. Does that sound okay to you?
Would you like to come back tomorrow night and help me polish off these leftovers? Sam turned back toward the counter to finish covering the food and put it in the refrigerator.
Wild horses couldnt keep me away.
You are FULL of it tonight!
What can I say you bring it out in me.
Yeah? Sam moved over to the sink. Well, how about bringing yourself over here and helping with the dishes?
Tina willingly assisted with the kitchen duties. When they were done, the women cuddled on the couch and watched TV until the news came on.
I should get going. Tina got up and stretched.
Sam walked her to the door. Ill see you tomorrow night.
Ill be here.
They shared a hug and a kiss before Tina left.
Sam closed and locked the door. She went directly to the phone and dialed a number she knew by heart.
Tina sang along with the car radio all the way home. As soon as she let herself into her condo, the blinking light on the answering machine caught her attention. Who could that be? She thought about the last time there had been a message and the disastrous results when Sam heard it. She walked over, reached out a shaking hand and pressed the button.
Tina smiled. Samantha!
Its Sam. Umm I just wanted to tell you I miss you already. And I thought maybe Id give this nickname of yours a try. So, good night, T bye.
She replayed the message and saved it. Seemingly unable to remove the smile from her face, she prepared for bed. Shortly after pulling the covers up under her chin, Tina was sound asleep.
And she was still smiling.
To be continued
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