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It's All About Timing

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“No, I know now . I’m parked in front of your store and it’s empty.” Debbie peeked in through the glass at the flower shop she always got her flowers from. She believed that a few personal touches, however small, genuinely made a difference when it came down to her clients choosing a home. Cookies in the oven and flowers on the kitchen counter gave whoever she was showing the house to a little incentive to use their own imagination to see what the house could be: a home. Or at least that is what she firmly believed.

 

“I was out of town for a couple of months. Had some things I needed to take care of.” She spent the summer out of town. She was only supposed to be gone for one week, but ended up staying three full months away. When she got the call that Danny had died she was calm. She booked her flight and began to make funeral arrangements. She didn’t notice that ever since that call she’s had this persistent, dull ringing in her ears. She loved peace and quiet, but the sound was welcome. It made her feel less alone in the world. Her parents had already passed and now her brother. The one person who knew her inside and out. They were a few years apart but had always gotten along very well. She got back to her house and immediately got back to work in an effort to distract herself from that awful summer.

 

And when she got back she found out her florist, the one person she entrusted all her arrangements to, had moved. She couldn’t believe her luck.

 

“I tried calling, but you didn’t answer, so I sent you an arrangement with a note. As a goodbye present.”

 

“Yeah, I saw it. Thanks, by the way.” Debbie was quiet a moment. “Good luck in Florida, Betty.”

 

“Thank you, dear!”

 

And with that Debbie was left without a florist only a few hours before she was supposed to show her first house since getting back. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but she was emotionally shaken still and was slightly doubting her ability to do anything anymore knowing that Danny was no longer on this planet. It felt somehow wrong to be successful and happy without him there. Who would she brag to about her latest sale? Who would endlessly tease her about having to catch up to his sales numbers?

 

Debbie got in her car, got out her phone and looked up florists within a reasonable distance. Out of the 12 shops she found, 11 of them weren’t available for a last minute custom arrangement to be ready within the hour.

 

“I bet you’re laughing at me right now, aren’t you?” She had recently picked up the habit of talking to Danny as if he could somehow hear her. “I bet you’re really enjoying this.” Looking down at her phone again she saw the Google search show ‘12 results found’ which means there was still one she hadn’t called. She clicked on the shop’s name and saw the address was not far so she just drove over.

 

She parked right in front of it and looked at it for a moment. It was between a watch repair shop and one of those pet boutiques that made birthday cakes for dogs.

 

“If these flowers suck I’m getting a dog cake.” She laughed to herself just thinking about how hard Danny would be laughing at her misfortune and her dog cake desperation.

 

The door to the flower shop was heavy and annoyingly squeaky. There was no one at the counter so she approached, sounded the bell on the counter and quietly waited for someone, anyone to appear.

 

Five minutes go by and nothing. She checks her watch and decided to sound the bell again. She finally hears someone running down the stairs with what sounds like boots.

 

From the door on the far right came a woman who stood behind the counter, with her hands on the edge of the counter and chewing gum that Debbie saw was green.

 

“What can I do for you?” She crossed her arms as she said it.

 

“Hi, I’m in a bit of a pickle. My regular florist moved out of town while I was away for the summer. And the other 11 flower shops I visited don’t make last minute custom arrangements for walk-ins so I’m here, as a last resort, hoping that through some miracle you can help me.”

 

The woman looks at Debbie and simply says in a rather sarcastic tone, “thank you for the honor of gracing this humble shop with your request.”

 

“I didn’t mean it to sound like that. Can you help me or not?” Debbie was desperate. She needed to be at the house in less than two hours and she still had to set the tone she wanted for the house. She still needed to pick up store bought cookie dough. She wondered for a split second if she bought dog biscuits if the buyers would even notice.

 

“What do you need them for?”

 

“The flowers? I’m, uh, showing a house to a client and I need the house to look buyable.”

 

“Where’s the house?”

 

“Ridgewood Drive, why? I don’t need delivery.”

 

“Is that by the park over across town?”

 

“Yes, why?”

 

“Who’s buying the house?”

 

“My client, why? Why do you keep asking me these questions?”

 

“I need to know some background info so I can make the perfect arrangement.”

 

“I already know what I want. I’d like a dozen pink and yellow tulips.”

 

“Who’s buying the house? Is it a couple?”

 

Debbie gave in realizing this woman wouldn’t start making the arrangement until all her questions were answered. “A newlywed couple. Young love and all that.”

 

The woman nodded her head satisfied with the answer and went in the back again.

 

Debbie was relieved that she finally found what she wanted. “Pink and yellow, don’t forget!”

 

A short while later the woman walked back out and placed a vase on the counter. “Here you go.”

 

Debbie walked over from the wall with all the photographs on it looked at the arrangement, then at the woman. “Is this a joke? I specifically said pink and yellow tulips. Right?” The last part she said mostly to herself now doubting if she had in fact placed the correct order.

 

“Yeah, that’s what you want, but that’s not what you need. You need daisies, trust me.”

 

“Trust you? I’m sorry, but I don’t know you and I can’t afford to trust you right now.” She looked at her watch and noticed the time.

 

“Shit. Fine, I’ll take the daisies, but I’m not happy about taking the daisies I would like to make that clear.” She reached in her bag and got her wallet. “How much do I owe you?”

 

The woman, arms crossed, looked at Debbie and gave her a hint of a smile. “No charge.”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous. Tell me how much, I’m running late.”

 

“Tell you what, when you sell the house you come back and pay me.”

 

“You’re a very trusting person.”

 

“Trust is important.”

 

Debbie looked at the woman for a moment and gave in. “Fine, if I sell the house you have my word that I’ll come back and pay you for the flowers.” She picked up the vase and started to leave.

 

“Nice watch by the way.”

 

Debbie stopped at the door, one foot in and one foot out looking back at the woman behind the counter. “Thanks.”

Chapter Text

Two weeks after the showing Debbie sat with her clients at the title company as they closed on the house on Ridgewood Drive. Both of them all smiles and excited to start their life together.

 

“Congratulations, you two. I hope you guys enjoy your new home.” She handed them each a business card. “In case you have any friends that want to follow in your footsteps.” They shook hands and she was on her way.

 

She sat in her car checking her emails. She was almost surprised she closed this deal. She looked at the time on her watch and touched it. Danny had given her that watch when she sold her first house. He was so proud of her. She wiped the tear that had fallen on her admittedly nice watch. At that she remembered something or rather someone else she needed to pay a visit to.

 

She walked into the flower shop and once again heard the grating sound of the door and wondered why the people who worked here were so averse to oiling the hinges on the door. After walking in she noticed there was someone behind the counter grabbing something from one of the cupboards underneath.

 

“You were right.”

 

The person whose head was in the cupboard stood up. “I usually am, but what was I right about specifically? Also, I don’t know you.”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.”

 

“Do you know someone that looks like me?”

 

“No, I meant when you had your head in the cupboard.”

 

“You’re confusing me, lady.”

 

“Does anyone else work here? I was in here a couple weeks ago and a woman, blonde hair about shoulder length, made an arrangement for me. I need to speak to her.”

 

“Next door.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“The lady you wanna talk to? She’s next door.”

 

“But that’s a watch repair shop, I didn’t purchase anything from there. I bought flowers. Well, technically I didn’t buy them since I didn’t give her any money, but that’s what I’m here to do.”

 

“Where I’m from that’s theft. But I won’t call the cops. Anyway, again, the person you’re looking for is not in this store.” The girl spoke as one does to a confused child. “She is in the next store. If you go out this door and into the next then you’ll find her.” She smiled at Debbie.

 

“Thank you”, Debbie turned and rolled her eyes as she walked out.

 

The other store had a distinctly different feel than the flower shop. The decor was darker which was a complete contrast to the nearly all white walls in the flower shop. The door didn’t screech as you walked in and it was so serene despite the constant ticking. The flower shop wasn’t loud, but it was so bright and airy and, well, full of flowers it almost felt like you were still outside.

 

There were dozens of clocks on the walls, all different kinds. Big, small, and all of them ticking. Even with the ticking this shop felt quieter. She turned and looked at the display counter. So many watches. Antique watches, pocket watches, new watches, all kinds.

 

Debbie had made it to the far end of the counter so she didn’t notice when someone walked out from the back. The same woman from the flower shop. She leaned on a stool, crossed her arms and sat there watching Debbie admire all the watches. When she finally looked up and saw the woman she spoke, “these are amazing.”

 

“Now that they work, I guess they are.”

 

“You fixed all these?”

 

The woman nodded.

 

“Impressive.” Debbie said as she glanced back down at the display. She starts walking over to where the woman is. “As previously agreed, I am here to pay my debt.”

 

“You sold the house then?”

 

“Yes, I did.”

 

“It was the daisies.”

 

“No, it wasn’t.”

 

“Yes, it was. Imagine if I’d given you what you asked for? You’d never have closed that sale.”

 

“You think very highly of yourself don’t you?” Debbie cocked her head to the side.

 

“Tulips would’ve just told them you were trying too hard. They’re a very nice flower, but the occasion called for daisies.”

 

“If I agree with you will you stop?”

 

The woman smiled. “You’re a realtor so I know you have a business card with you.” She extended her hand waiting for Debbie to hand it over.

 

Debbie looked at her a moment before reaching into the side pocket of her purse and handing her a card. The woman took the card and studied it a bit and laughed through her nose.

 

Debbie almost looked offended. “May I ask what it is that you find so funny?”

 

“You don’t look like a Debra.” She placed the card in her back pocket. “Is this your work phone or personal number?” She chewed her gum and waited for an answer.

 

“Both. The top one is my office number and the one on the bottom is my cell number. Personal cell number. Why?”

 

“Do you always ask people why they ask you questions or is that something you only do for me?” She placed her hands on her heart and gave Debbie a big smile and exaggeratedly batted her eyelashes.

 

Debbie held eye contact for a moment. “How much are the flowers?” She looked down trying to hide a smile as she suddenly felt herself blushing the slightest bit.

 

“They’re on the house, Debra .” The woman made sure to say her name with emphasis.

 

Usually she would’ve argued and insisted on paying for the flowers, but for some reason she couldn’t seem to find the will to debate on that subject. “Thank you, that is very, uh, very generous of you.” The two looked at each other again.

 

Debbie started walking backwards towards the door and just before she turned to leave she spoke, “Debbie.”

 

The woman smiled slightly.

 

“Not Debra ,” she said in an exaggerated way, “just.... Debbie.”

 

“You’re welcome, Debbie.”

 

Debbie left the store, got in her car and drove away smiling.

 


 

 

“Oh, that’s great news!” Her best friend, Tammy, hugged her with one arm as they both sat on the bench in front of the playground as they watched Tammy’s kids play.

 

“I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to make the sale. Like, honest to God, worried.” Debbie sipped her coffee.

 

“Oh, I knew you could do it.” After a quiet pause as light breeze blew through the trees signaling the very first hint of autumn, Tammy asked her, “how’re you doing?”

 

Debbie looked down at her drink and didn’t speak immediately. “It’s been tough. I’ve been looking at old photos of when I was in college and he had just gotten his realtor’s license. God, his suits were so boxy.” She smiled as she wiped away a tear. “He would’ve hated this. Me being this sad. He always said he wanted to be celebrated when he died not mourned.”

 

Tammy looked at her friend with sympathy. “You wanna put some booze in your coffee? I’ve got a few of those mini bottles in my purse.”

 

Debbie looked at Tammy and laughed.

 

“I’ve got three kids and my neighbor’s teenage son just started a band so I’m coping in my own way.”

 

“Are they any good?”

 

“I would describe their sound as…. Cutlery dropped into a garbage disposal. While its turned on. And there’s a cat screeching in the distance for some reason.”

 

Debbie openly laughed. “Thank you, I needed that laugh.”

 


 

 

The rain stopped just as she arrived home. She got out of her car and grabbed the grocery bag along with her purse.

 

“Welcome back, neighbor!”

 

Just then she turned and saw her neighbor wave at her and she waved back. But as she did so the clasp to her watch, her beloved and undoubtedly worn and torn watch, opened and it flew off her hand landing hard on her driveway and then bouncing right into a puddle.

 

“Shit.” She rushed over and fished it out of the puddle. The glass was cracked and it had stopped ticking. “Oh fuck, man. FUCK.” She hurried inside praying it would still work somehow.

Chapter Text

Debbie all but threw her bag and groceries on the counter, her attention solely focused on her watch. “No, no, no.” She tried to dry it as best she could in a towel as she made her way to her bathroom to use her blow dryer on it.

 

“Fuck. I can’t believe this.” She sat on her toilet holding it in her hands as if she just lost a part of herself. The fact that she had just met a very skilled watch repair person completely slipping from her mind in this moment of distress.

 


 

After putting away her groceries and sitting on the couch with a beer she picked up her watch and looked it over again. She flipped it over and read the inscription

 

From D.O.

to D.O.

 

Her phone buzzed on the coffee table. She put her watch down carefully and with an effort reached for her phone without taking her legs off the couch.

 

Being in her line of work meant having to answer numbers she didn’t know or respond to texts from unknown numbers. So it was completely normal for her to get calls and texts at odd hours from potential clients.

 

555-0514: I’ve been thinking… since your regular florist left town maybe I could fill that role now. I’ve already got you one sale.

 

Debbie smiled and began to type.

 

Debbie: Just because they bought the house doesn’t mean it was because of the daisies.

 

555-0514: Oh, but it does. If not for that arrangement, I’m 90% sure they would’ve just walked out of that house immediately.

 

Debbie: You’re awfully confident aren’t you?

 

555-0514: Yeah, so? Confidence is sexy.

 

Debbie: Yeah, yeah.

555-0514: So you agree that I’m sexy.

 

Debbie smiled while rolling her eyes.

 

Debbie: Do you have a name? Or should I just call you 555-0514?

 

555-0514: Lou

 

Debbie: Is that short for something?

 

Lou: Maybe…

 

The light of the television reflected off the face of her watch and suddenly she had an idea.

 

Debbie: Do you remember my very nice watch?

 

Lou: Yes

 

Debbie: Well, today the clasp came loose and it flew off my hand into the ground then into a puddle and now it doesn’t work anymore.

 

Debbie waited for a reply and didn’t even realize she was holding her breath.

 

Lou: What are you doing right now?

 

Debbie: Nothing, just sitting. On my couch.

 

Lou: Come over and I’ll take a look at it.

 

Debbie: Like, right now-now?

 

Lou: Yeah, you said you weren’t doing anything.

 

Debbie: Alright. Ok. I’ll leave now then.

 


 

Debbie stood in front of the shop not knowing if she should knock since all the lights were out, so she texted Lou.

 

Debbie: I’m here. Outside the shop.

 

She looks into the store and sees a light go on in the back and then a light behind the display counter. She sees Lou walking toward the door.

 

Lou opens the door and sticks her head out. “Yeah? What’d you want?”

 

Debbie looks confused for a moment til Lou smiles and opens the door to let her in. Debbie follows Lou to the back room and sees a few work tables covered in tools.

 

Lou makes her way around the other side of the table Debbie is standing in front of and sits on a stool. “Go ahead, sit.”

 

Debbie pulls up a stool and sits. She looks around for a bit and then finally her eyes rest on Lou. “Oh, right, the watch.” She pulls it out of her bag and hands it over.

 

“How long have you had it?”

 

“Maybe, 20 years almost? Yeah about that long.”

 

Lou flips it over and notices the inscription. “Who’s D.O.?”

 

Debbie looks at her hands then back up at Lou. “Danny. He’s my-” Debbie stopped herself and began again, “he was my brother.”

 

Lou looks at her a moment and says nothing. She quietly starts to work on the watch.

 

“Was it recent?”

 

Debbie looks at Lou not fully understanding the question.

 

“Did your brother pass recently?”

 

Debbie nodded. “This past summer. It still doesn’t completely feel real. I keep wanting to call or text him. After every sale I make I always call him to gloat. He used to do the same.”

 

“He was a realtor, too?”

 

“Yeah, he got me into it. I don’t love it as much as he did, but I’m good at it.”

 

“I’m sorry. For your loss. It’s tough losing someone special. The pain never really goes away, but you learn to live with it and… as time goes by life goes back to normal. Or as normal as it can be without them in it.”

 

Debbie could sense that Lou was speaking from experience. “Was it recent?”

 

Without looking up she responded. “Nah, maybe two years now about.”

 

“Was it your brother, too?”

 

“No, it was my mother.”

 

“I’m sorry, too.”

 

They both looked at each other quietly for a moment. Silently bonding in their loss of a loved one.

 


 

Lou closed the watch back up and held it to her ear. Debbie perked up and waited for the diagnosis.

 

“The glass is still cracked, but it works again.”

 

Debbie almost snatched it from her hand. “Oh my goodness, thank you so, so much!”

 

“I can fix the glass too, but I’ll have to order the parts.”

 

“Really? I mean, thank you. Again, you have no idea how much this means to me.”

 

Lou smiled at Debbie’s genuine happiness.

 

As she’s admiring her brand new watch her stomach growls and Lou laughs.

 

“Did you eat a tiger for dinner?”

 

“I didn’t anything at all for dinner.”

 

Lou looks at her for a minute and stands up. “Come with me.”

 

Not thinking twice about it Debbie follows her up the stairs in the back room.

 

Chapter Text

“It’s not as glamorous as the houses you sell probably are, but the commute to work is great.” Lou says to Debbie as they go up the stairs.

 

They walk into Lou’s apartment and it’s not at all what Debbie was expecting. “Oh, wow, this is...actually nice.”

 

Lou laughs a little. “Thank you for the kind words.”

 

“No, I just meant- You just talked about it as if it were a college dorm room. But it’s not, it’s nice.”

 

“I’d just ordered take out when you mentioned your watch.” As the food reheated Lou brought a beer for each of them to the couch where Debbie sat. “Cheers”

 

“I have to ask… the repair shop is just very you. It just fits with you. But the flower shop? It doesn’t scream Lou.”

 

“How can you be so sure? You’ve only seen me twice.”

 

Debbie smiled. “I just mean…. Nevermind. I’m judging and that’s not nice. And I’m a nice lady.”

 

Lou smiled at her. “It was my mother’s shop. When she passed she left it to me and I kept it open. I’d gotten good at making arrangements and it gets more business than the repair shop.”

 

“Why do you keep the repair shop then?”

 

“I like looking inside things and figuring out how they work.”

 


 

“I hated working in an office. The whole 9-5, monday to friday thing isn’t for me. And then one day I was talking to Danny he asked me how work was and I told him. That’s when he suggested I become a realtor.”

 

“Did you get your license right away?”

 

They were both sitting on the couch facing each other deep in conversation for a few hours now.

 

“No, not right away. But that same year I finally did it. And you know what? Best decision I ever made.”

 

“That’s how I felt when I opened the repair shop.”

 

“What were you doing before that?”

 

“Mostly bartending, but before I moved to the States I was a lawyer.”

 

“You’re a lawyer?!” Debbie says in complete shock.

 

“Not here, but in Australia I was.”

 

“I can’t see that. I can not picture you in a stuffy, boring suit going to court.”

 

“First you say I’m sexy and now you’re picturing me in different outfits. If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were coming on to me.” Lou slightly raised her eyebrows challenging Debbie to say something.

 

“I’m… I’m pleading the fifth.” Debbie blushes slightly.

 

“I didn’t figure you were such a pussy.”

 

“Excuse me?” Debbie says through laughter.

 

“You heard me.” Lou took a drink. “I just thought you were a ‘grab life by the balls’ type of person.”

 

“I am! I grab life’s balls all the time! So much grabbing.”

 

“Sure you do.”

 

“You know what? You’re just trying to get to me. If you knew me a little better you would know that’s not true.” Debbie doesn’t understand why she feels the need to impress someone she hardly knows.

 

“I beg to differ. You’re determined and you’re a fighter, that much I know. Making it in your line of work isn’t exactly easy, but are you the same way in your personal life?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Lou smirks at Debbie, takes a long drink and carefully places her beer down.

 

“You want me to be very honest with you?”

 

“Please.”

 

“You’ve been flirting with me all night and you keep staring at my lips. Not to mention the day you gave me your card.”

 

“You asked for one!”

 

“Yes, but you’re the one that said to call you Debbie and then blushed like a teenager.”

 

Debbie opened her mouth to speak but didn’t say anything.

 

“I’m right.”

 

Debbie looked at Lou closely. She shifted closer to her and motioned for Lou to come closer. Their faces now inches apart, Debbie gets close enough to where their lips almost touch.

 

Both looking into each other’s eyes until Debbie spoke. “If anything I think you are the one that wants to kiss me.” Their lips nearly brushing as she spoke.

 

Debbie sat back in her original spot and Lou didn’t say anything. Debbie’s victory smiled appeared.

 

“It’s late, I should go.”

 

Lou wears a half smile as she walked her out to her car.

 

“Thank you for fixing my watch. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for that.”

 

“I’ll order the glass part tomorrow. I’ll let you know when it arrives.”

 

“Ok, I look forward to hearing from you.” Debbie at this point wanted to hear from Lou this week whether the part had arrived already or not.

 


 

Debbie sat with Tammy on the same park bench they regularly shared coffee on.

 

“Have you ever been with a woman?”

 

“Is that an invitation? If so, I’m gonna have to decline. You’re gorgeous, but I feel like you wouldn’t be able to get over me so easily. Plus I’m married.”

 

“No, not an invitation.” Debbie smiles. “Have you ever kissed another woman?”

 

“I think maybe in college? Spring break? I can’t remember I was too drunk to properly remember anything from that period of my life.” After a moment Tammy noticed Debbie had gone quiet. “Why do you ask?”

 

“Remember the florist I told you about, the one that made me take the daisies?”

 

“Yeah”

 

“And remember how I told you my watch broke, but I was able to get it fixed?”

 

“Yeah…” Tammy was gesturing for Debbie to spill the beans already.

 

“Well the person, woman, the woman who fixed my watch is also the florist. She has two shops right next to each other.

 

Tammy was a bit confused at the build up for this underwhelming reveal. “Oh, well, good for her. Two thriving shops in this economy is nothing to sneeze at.”

 

“I almost kissed her.”

 

This got Tammy’s attention. “And, you’re only telling me this now? Also, you never told you were dating again. And you didn’t tell me you were thinking about women again.”

 

“I said almost. And to be honest I haven’t been with anyone in so long I’m not even sure I know how to do it anymore.”

 

“Go back to the part where you almost kissed her, tell me everything.”

 

Debbie spares no detail in what happened from the moment she walked into the repair shop to the moment she arrived home.

 

“Are you gonna ask her out? You need to ask her out. Gimme your phone, I’ll ask her for you.”

 

“No, I’m not giving you my phone.”

 

“Fine. But you will ask her out?”

 

“Do adults even do that? Ask someone out?”

 

“How long has it been since you’ve been on a date?” Tammy became concerned.

 

“Long enough where if I tell you how long you’ll start setting me up on awful blind dates with your husband’s boring coworkers. Again.”

 

“I do the things I do because you’re my best friend and I love you. Also, I’m afraid you’ll die alone.”

 

“Talking to you is such a confidence booster.”

 

“Or… you could just ask out flower repair lady.”

 

“You saying it like that makes it sound like she fixes flowers.”

 

“Ask her out or I will Google every watch repair shop in town and visit them all until I find her. I will know who it is because I know your type.”

 

Tammy sipped her coffee and gave Debbie the same look she gave her children when she meant business.

 

“Ok, fine. I will think about it.”

 

Tammy pulls out her phone.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Call her right now or I’ll visit her store that I just found and confirmed it is in fact her shop via Google Street View.” Tammy showed Debbie her phone making sure her friend saw she definitely had found Lou’s shop.

 

Debbie knew her friend didn’t bluff. She pulled out her phone and called Lou.

 

“Hello” Lou answered without really looking at who was calling.

 

“Hi, it’s me. Debbie. You fixed my watch.”

 

“I know who you are.” Lou smiled into the phone. “What can I do for you? Is it your watch?”

 

“No, my watch is working perfectly and with that new glass looks new again.” She paused for a moment. “I was wondering… are you busy tomorrow night? I figured the least I could do was have you over for dinner as a thank you. I don’t cook though so fair warning, I’m ordering take out.”

 

Still smiling she answered, “what time should I be there?”

 

“Is eight ok?”

 

“Yeah, of course. Text me your address.”

 

Debbie looked at Tammy with wide eyes. “Yes, I will definitely text you my address.”

 

“See you tomorrow.”

 

Debbie hung up and stared at her phone.

 

“WOW, you have got it bad for this woman, haven’t you?”

 

“What? No, of course not. She’s attractive, very much so, but that’s all it really is for now.”

 

Tammy imitated Debbie, “Oh hi it’s me Debbie the lovesick puppy with the broken watch let me feed you pizza.”

 

Debbie lost the battle in trying not to laugh. “I don’t sound like that!”

 

“Please! You should hear yourself. Are you the same Debbie Ocean I’ve been friends with all these years? Because my friend Debbie is very smooth and suave. To an irritating degree.”

 

“I spoke to her as I would anyone else I’m mildly attracted to.” Debbie is a liar.

 

Tammy threw her head back laughing. “Debbie, who are you trying to fool, yourself? Because you’re not fooling me.” Tammy studied her friend a moment. “You like her, don’t you?”

 

“I don’t know, I mean yes I do, but I don’t know what I’m doing. I haven’t done this in so long.”

 

“She obviously is into whatever the fuck kind of vibe you’re putting out so honestly be yourself. As weird as that is now, just be it. Besides if it doesn’t work out you can just find another florist.”

Chapter Text

“And you’ll call me as soon as she leaves, right?”

 

“Yes, Tammy, I’ll call you.”

 

“If she leaves that is. If the vibe is right, just go for it.”

 

“Why do you keep saying vibe. Did you hear one of your kids say it?”

 

“Yeah, does it make me sound like one of those moms that tries too hard to be hip and ends up embarrassing her kids?”

 

“For sure it does.” Debbie checked the time. “Ok, I have to go get ready.”

 

“Ok. Good luck and I hope you get lucky!”

 

“Good bye , Tammy.”

 


 

Around 8:20 pm Debbie hears what sounds like a motorcycle in her driveway. “What the…”

 

She peeks through the curtains to see Lou pull her helmet off and shake her hair.

 

“That is… not what I expected.” She watches Lou walks towards the front door while unzipping her jacket. “How does she even look that cool while unzipping a jacket?”

 

She made her way to the door and opened it just as Lou was about to ring the doorbell.

 

“You’re late.”

 

“Fashionably late, so really not late at all.”

 

Debbie opened the door to let her in. “What kind of pizza do you like?”

 

“Whatever you order is fine. Just no pineapple.”

 

“God, no. Never pineapple.” Debbie made a face at the very suggestion.

 


 

As they shared a pizza they fell into easy conversation.

 

“That girl that works in the flower shop, long dark hair, she’s…. Interesting.”

 

“Ah, that’s Constance. Yeah, interesting is one way to describe her. Most people say weird, but weird is better than boring. She used to work next door at the dog boutique, but she got fired so I gave her a job at the flower shop.”

 

“I can see that happening.”

 

“Her getting fired? Yeah, she came to work high one day and ate a bunch of dog biscuits.”

 

Debbie laughed out loud. “Are you serious? And you hired her knowing that?”

 

“She’s a good person, just doesn’t always make the best calls.”

 

“I’m gonna go get us another round.” Debbie says as she picks up the two empty beer bottles.

 

After Debbie leaves Lou notices the framed pictures hanging on the wall opposite the couch. She goes over to them and studies each one. She sees pictures of Debbie and who she assumes is her brother. Debbie and her parents. A much younger Debbie with a blonde woman wearing matching t-shirts that said ‘best amigos’. So focused she was on the photos she doesn’t even hear Debbie come up beside her.

 

Debbie silently hands Lou her drink.

 

“Is that your brother?” Lou points her chin at a particular photo.

 

“That was the day I closed my first sale.” Debbie smiles recalling the day. “See that box in my hand? It’s the watch.” She lifts her hand up and shakes the wrist the watch is on.

 

“You two must’ve been very close.” They make their way back to the couch.

 

“Danny was the best big brother a girl could ever ask for. He never passed up an opportunity to give me shit, but he was always there for me. After our parents died, after my divorce… and now…” Debbie quietly lets a tear fall.

 

Lou sees this and holds her hand in a quiet show of support. The two look at each other not saying anything out loud rather letting the moment happen naturally.

 

 


 

At 8 am Debbie’s phone rings for the fifth time before she decides to answer. “Hello, Debra Ocean speaking.”

 

“Still asleep at 8 am? Sounds like someone had a good night last night.”

 

“Shit, it’s 8 already?”

 

“Is she still there?” Tammy whispers.

 

“What? Tammy, no, no one is here. And why are you whispering?”

 

“So she left right after?”

 

Debbie lies on her back, eyes closed pinching the bridge of her nose. “Tammy, we did not have sex.”

 

“You fucked it up, didn’t you? I swear Debbie, you are the BEST realtor in town, but you are not gifted in the romance department.”

 

“For your information there may or may not have been a kiss.”

 

“You guys kissed? Did you make out?” Debbie was silent. “Debbie, answer me. Also, open your door I’m outside.”

 

Tammy walks in with two coffees as a preemptive apology for the barrage of questions she’s about to launch at Debbie.

 

“So, is she a good kisser?”

 

Debbie quietly sips her coffee. “We didn’t exactly kiss. Well, she kissed me. On the cheek. When she left. And it was very late.”

 

“I skipped Pilates so you could tell me you had a date and nothing happened except for a kiss on the cheek?”

 

“You skipped Pilates because you couldn’t wait until we were supposed to meet up later today.”

 

“Oh, come on, Debbie, give me something. Tell me what the vibe was like with you two then.”

 

“I will if you promise me that you’ll never say ‘vibe’ around me again.”

 

Tammy gives her a thumbs up as she sips her coffee.

 

“She came over, we had pizza and talked some.” Debbie looks at Tammy with no expression. “Oh, and she also doesn’t like pineapple on her pizza.”

 

“Wow, a match made in heaven.” Tammy deadpans.

 

“We talked about Danny.” Debbie messes with the lid of her coffee.

 

Tammy quietly listens as Debbie continues.

 

“I cried. Like, really cried. My shoulders shook. That’s the first time I let myself truly feel… anything since I got the phone call at the beginning of the summer.”

 

“What did she say?”

 

“Nothing. We looked at each other as one tear came out and she held my hand. When she did it was like she was, I don’t know, she was giving me permission to let it out? As if she knew I’d been holding it all in. That’s when I just buried my face in my hands and just openly wept. And then she held me until there were no more tears left.”

 

“Wow.” was all Tammy could say. Debbie was never one to openly display emotion. At Debbie’s wedding Tammy cried more than she did.

 

“I don’t know what came over me. But I felt lighter afterward. After I was done she just held me quietly and hummed a song I don’t know and just slowly rubbed my arm. It was so calming and so-”

 

“Intimate.”

 

“Just between us, I was kind of sad that she had to go.”

 

Tammy smiled and plopped her chin in her hand. “You definitely like her.”

 

Debbie just smiles at her friend, wrinkles her nose and nods in agreement.

 


 

Later that day Debbie sat in her home office getting some work done and found herself humming. Something she never did. When she realized just where she remembered that tune from she smiled and reached for her phone. She looked through her contact list until she found the name she was looking for. The phone rang twice before the other side answered. “Hey, you.” she spoke softly into the phone.

Chapter Text

Tammy and Debbie are sitting on their bench watching the kids run around.

 

“Tomorrow is lasagna night, wanna come over for dinner? Tom’s making his famous recipe that you love oh so much. More than you love mine, your best friend.”

 

Debbie smiled and chewed on her grape. “I can’t, I have plans.”

 

Tammy played it cool. “Oh, are you showing a house?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Grocery shopping?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“What are you doing then?”

 

“I told you I have plans.” Debbie has her poker face on. She knows Tammy wants to ask but is trying not to pry too much.

 

“Cut the shit, Debbie, just tell me what you’re doing already.”

 

Debbie laughs. “I have a date.”

 

“With watch lady?!”

 

Debbie nods. “Her name is Lou.”

 

“Is that short for something?”

 

“Maybe.” Debbie says smiling to herself.

 

“Will you ca-”

 

“Yes, I’ll call you and tell you all about it.”

 

“As soon as you get home?”

 

“I will call you and tell you about it, but I make no promise of when that will happen.”

 

“Debbie Ocean, are you gonna put out?”

 

“Your kid is digging through the trash bin. Again.” Debbie points with her grape.

 

Tammy sprints over to where her youngest is nearly falling head first into the garbage. “No, honey! Remember Mommy said to stay out of the trash?”

 


 

The next day Debbie gets a text just after lunch time.

 

Lou: Wear something comfortable tonight.

 

Debbie: So now you’re choosing what I wear?

 

Lou: Not choosing, merely suggesting. In fact, if all you wear is a robe I’d definitely be fine with that.

 

Debbie blushes at the suggestion.

 

Debbie: My, my you’re not shy are you?

 

Lou: Never said I was ;) Pick you up at 10.

 


 

At around 10:15 pm Lou picks up Debbie.

 

“Tardiness is a real issue for you, isn’t it?”

 

Lou smiles, “Hello to you too.”

 

Debbie gets into Lou’s big car and puts her seatbelt on. “Ok, so where are we going?”

 

“I don’t remember ever promising to reveal all of my secrets.”

 

“Oh come on, just tell me. I’m gonna find out when we get there anyway.”

 

“Why spoil the surprise then? Consider it an exercise in patience and self control.”

 

“Why won’t you tell me?”

 

“I’ve been mentally preparing myself all day for your endless game of questions so ask all you want, I’m not telling you where we’re going.”

 

“What if I guess?”

 

“I’m still not telling you.”

 

Debbie, a middle-aged woman with a mortgage and a retirement fund, pouts. And Lou can’t help but find it adorable.

 

Lou glances over at Debbie and decides to make things fun. “Ok, if you guess correctly you get a prize.”

 

“You’re on.” Lou would soon get to know Debbie’s competitive side.

 


 

“You have to give me another hint!”

 

“I most certainly do not. You’re getting desperate and it isn’t a good look.”

 

“I am not getting desperate.”

 

“You asked for access to my car’s GPS history.”

 

“That’s not desperate. I’m just…..crafty.”

 

Lou cuts off the engine. Without Debbie even noticing they’d arrived. Lou gets out of the car and starts towards the path that was almost overrun with weeds. When she looks back and sees Debbie in the car still she asks, “are you coming or are you gonna stay in the car the whole night?”

 

Debbie gets out and jogs to catch up. “Did you bring me to this abandoned… place… to murder me? Because if so, that won’t work for me. I have to show a house in two days.”

 

“I’m not gonna murder you. Not yet anyway.” Lou shoulder bumps Debbie and she smiles.

 

“What is this place?” Debbie asks as they make their way into what appears to be a lobby of some sort. “Is it a museum? Or at least was it a museum?”

 

“No, not a museum. Follow me and you’ll soon find out.” Lou calls from a staircase.

 

Debbie looks around and slowly makes her way up the stairs.

 

Debbie was only a few feet behind Lou so she knew exactly which room to go into when she saw Lou disappear to a room on the right. “There had better not be any spiders in he-”

 

Her words caught in her throat. Debbie walked into a room with maybe, no definitely, a thousand candles lit. At the very least.

 

“Don’t worry, I checked and there are no spiders here. No big and hairy ones anyway.”

 

Debbie looks at Lou, the candlelight casting a warm glow onto her face, and smiles real big. The two share a moment where words weren’t necessary. Something Debbie was beginning to like doing with Lou.

 

“Hope you’re hungry.” Lou walks over to an area covered in blankets with a picnic basket and a couple bottles of wine near it.

 

They sit and Lou pours them each a glass of wine.

 

“Should we toast?” Debbie asks.

 

“Sure. Um, to your florist. I’m sure she was a lovely person, but I’m very glad she left.”

 

Debbie laughs openly. Never had anyone gone to so much trouble for a simple date for her. Not even when her ex-husband proposed did he do anything like this.

 


 

They ate, they drank and now they sat on the blankets slightly tipsy falling into easy conversation.

 

“You never told me what this place was.”

 

“Oh! Yes, right, I nearly forgot. Follow me.” Lou grabs a big blanket and waits for Debbie to get up.

 

After nearly two bottles of wine Debbie is losing her fight with gravity and after almost getting on her feet plops back down like a sack of potatoes. She looks at Lou and can’t help but laugh. It isn’t long before Lou is laughing too. They try, unsuccessfully, two times and Debbie is still on the floor.

 

“Ok, on the count of three,” Lou says with laughter still in her voice, “and I’ll pull you up and you push off the floor.”

 

“One, two, three!”

 

And just like that Lou lost her balance falling nearly on top of Debbie. They both laugh to the point of tears. Slowly the laughter dies and they’re left in a very welcomed position.

 

Lou looks into Debbie's eyes.

 

Debbie openly stares at Lou’s lips and only stops when she sees her smile.

 

“Come on, there’s something I need to show you.” And finally they’re able to get up.

 


 

Lou leads Debbie down a long corridor to a door that says AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. The stairs on the other side of the door lead up so she can only assume they’re going to the roof.

 

Once they reach the roof, Debbie sees what appears to be an air mattress. “You really planned this whole thing out.”

 

“That almost hurts.” Lou says playfully. “I don’t half ass anything.” With a wink she makes her way on over to the mattress and calls Debbie over.

 

As they sat on the mattress surrounded in their blanket Debbie takes a good look at the sky. There were maybe a million stars. They were at least half hour outside the city so it was much easier to see them.

 

“It’s an old planetarium.”

 

Debbie looks at Lou and can’t help but smile. She waits a few seconds to speak because she doesn’t trust her voice at that moment. “This is amazing.”

 

“I used to come here a lot with my mother. About six months after she passed they closed it. I never stopped coming though.” Lou looks up and Debbie sees her eyes shine over. “Whenever I have a tough decision to make or if I miss her too much I come here. I’ll sit here for hours. I don’t usually like anywhere too quiet, but the silence here is special. No noise, but it’s like this place speaks to me, you know?”

 

When Lou looks back down, Debbie is staring at her. It’s breezy on the roof and Lou tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear to keep it off her face. Their ability to say so many things through one look without using a single word was something Debbie would never get tired of.

 

Her eyes fell to Lou’s lips again and again she only looked up when she saw Lou smile. They both leaned in and very slowly their lips met. The taste of wine still lingering on both their lips. Their kiss was slow and warm. Lou snaked her hair into Debbie’s hair and heard her new favorite sound when she lightly brushed her fingers on the back of Debbie’s neck. Debbie in turn realized that the consistent ringing that had set up camp in her ears since the beginning of summer had stopped.

 

They both smiled into the kiss as they broke apart.

 

“If you had told me that you were going to do that when you picked me up, maybe I wouldn’t have asked you all those questions.”

 

Lou laughs and lies down. Debbie looks at her and Lou pats the spot next to her. Debbie snuggles up to her and they both lie there smiling at nothing as Lou ever so slowly runs her fingers up and down her arm and hums a tune Debbie’s really starting to like.

Chapter Text

“A planetarium?!”

 

Debbie nods and smiles.

 

“That’s so romantic! Can she talk to Tom? For our anniversary he bought me a birthday card because he mixed up the dates and thought it was my birthday. No cake though.”

 

“She lit candles too.”

 

“Oh, wow. Go on, just tell me everything.”

 


 

“And then it just happened, we kissed. God, Tammy, I haven’t felt this…. feeling in so long.”

 

“You look happier.” Tammy smiles.

 

“I feel it, too.” Debbie unconsciously touches her watch. “I haven’t felt like this in a little while now.”

 

“Have you talked to her yet today?”

 

“She texted me good morning.”

 

“Look at you! You haven’t looked this smiley since college!”

 

“I just… I really like her. I know I haven’t known her very long, but it just feels right, you know?”

 

Tammy nods knowingly. “Mm, you know what you two should do? The county fair’s gonna be in town for a bit starting next week. You can win her a stuffed animal at the ring toss.”

 

“I don’t know if Lou is the fair type. Although, I’d pay to see her carry around a giant stuffed animal all night.”

 

“So, when do I get to meet her?”

 

Debbie finishes the yogurt on her spoon. “I don’t know. I mean, what’s the appropriate amount of time to wait before I introduce her to my friends?”

 

“I don’t know that there’s a schedule for these things. Maybe just feel things out as they come your way?”

 

Debbie stares off into space as she nods.

 

“Well, since you’re so taken with her, I’ll order the flowers for the spring formal from her shop.”

 

“Tammy, that’s months away. How do you even know if-”

 

“Oh, I know. Also, I’m finally head of the PTA and I’m a little bit drunk with power.”

 


 

“Not even a single guess?”

 

Lou tried her best not to smile at Debbie’s disbelief. “Nope.”

 

“I don’t buy it. I call and ask if you’re busy tonight, you say no, and I tell you when to be ready and you don’t ask a single question?!”

 

“Why ruin the mystery? Besides, watching you incredulously ask me over and over again if I want to know where you’re taking me is more fun.”

 

Debbie playfully pushes Lou’s shoulder as she pulls into the fairgrounds. “Let’s go win some prizes.”

 


 

After an hour at the fair, as promised, Debbie had won Lou a giant giraffe. And Lou, in turn, won a giant penguin for Debbie. They looked ridiculous walking around with the oversized toys and they knew it.

 

They stopped for some subpar fair food and sat, with their new friends, at a picnic table.

 

“You are really good at darts. Like, really good.”

 

“I was a bartender at this shithole bar in Florida for almost a year. It was in some small town where there were approximately 5 people under the age of 78, including tourists.”

 

Debbie laughs as she takes a bite of her hot dog getting some mustard on her face. Lou looks at her and just can’t help but feel a little weaker in the knees at the sight. She finally reaches her hand out and wipes the bit of mustard off Debbie’s face with her thumb and licks it off her finger.

 

Debbie never knew that someone wiping condiments off of her face could be so…. Sexy.

 

“There wasn’t much to do there so I played darts with the two regulars for most of my shift. I used to be really good. I’ve gotten a bit rusty.”

 

“You used to be good? I’m glad I chose the ring toss to impress you.” Debbie said the last bit without noticing.

 

“So, you’re trying to impress me?” She smiles and sips her soda.

 

Debbie tries her hardest not to smile and fails. “So what if I am?”

 

Lou scoots closer. “Well, I don’t know if you know this, but I’m here on a date.” She points to her giraffe.

 

Debbie goes along with the game. “Yes, I’m here with a very hot date myself. He even wore a suit.”

 

“Well, then now I know who to apologize to.”

 

“Apologize for what?”

 

“For this.” Lou looks at her a moment longer and kisses her. This time it’s Debbie who reaches into Lou’s hair making her moan a little.

 

“You’re pretty good at that too. Kissing and darts. You can add that to your resumé.”

 

Lou rests her head in her hand and just looks at Debbie as she wonders how life had such a funny way of working out.

 

“Just so you’re aware, we’re going on the viking ship ride before we leave.”

 

Debbie nearly chokes on her drink. “We? As in me too? As in I’m going to be on the ride while it’s in motion?”

 

“You’re scared!”

 

“No, I’m not.”

 

“Yes, you are! I can smell it on you.” As she says this Lou sticks her face into Debbie’s neck and sniffs. “See? Right there, fear.” She says into her neck.

 

“I’m not saying I’ll go, but what do I get if I agree to get on the death boat?”

 

As their laughter dies down Lou keeps her head in place and ever so slowly places the gentlest and warmest kiss on Debbie’s neck. She moves up a little and places another at the pulse point below her ear.

 

“Anything you want.” Lou whispers in her ear.

 

At that moment all Debbie wanted was something she and Lou may very well get arrested for if it happened right there on the table.

 

Lou nibbles on her earlobe and then sits back again watching Debbie try her hardest to maintain the illusion of control on her face.

 

She clears her throat and waits a moment before speaking. “I have decided to go on your death boat.”

 

As they sit facing each other on the same side of the picnic table, Lou holds both her hands lacing their fingers together and comes really close to Debbie’s lips. “Be brave and I’ll make it worth your while.”

 

“See, I’m a responsible woman. So I always place safe bets.” Debbie says as she feeds Lou some funnel cake, getting some powdered sugar at the corner of the blonde’s mouth. “And you talk a big game, but when it comes time for me to collect will you be able to make good on this promise?”

 

At that Debbie leans in licking the sugar off Lou’s mouth, gets up and picks up her penguin. “The boat is on the other side of the fair, let’s go.” She says with the straightest face possible. When she looks back at Lou and sees the expression on her face and the fire in her eyes, she thought that maybe getting arrested wasn’t that terrible.

 


 

“For the record, I would have absolutely bailed you out.”

 

“I was kidding, Tammy, jeez. I’m not looking to get arrested for public indecency.”

 

“Tom is an excellent lawyer. He would’ve got that taken off your record like that.” Tammy snaps her fingers.

 

Debbie laughs. “Tammy, if anyone knows how good a lawyer he is, it’s me.”

 

She’s helping Tammy pick out Halloween costumes for her kids. “Have they chosen their costumes yet?”

 

“Well, Stephanie wants The Wizard of Oz.”

 

“Oh, that’ll make such a cute costume. She’ll be an adorable Dorothy.”

 

“No, she wants to be The Wizard of Oz. My precious 6-year-old daughter wants to be The wizard. Not Dorothy, The Lion, The Scarecrow or The Tin Man. The big, scary wizard.”

 

Debbie loves her godchildren and would expect nothing less. “What about Michael?”

 

“Toilet.”

 

“I think it’s towards the back.”

 

“No, Michael, my baby boy, wants to be a toilet.”

 

At that Debbie can’t help but laugh. “How are you gonna find these costumes here?”

 

“Oh, I’m trying to find one for me and Tom. I’m gonna make the kids’ costumes.” Tammy throws a bottle of fake blood in the cart just in case. “What about you? What’re you doing for Halloween?”

 

“I don’t think I’m doing anything. Lou hasn’t mentioned anything yet. But it’s still two weeks away and she’s not the planning type. She’s more of a ‘fuck it, let’s just do it’ type.”

 

“Oh, you definitely need her then.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“You are the most Type A person I know and the phrase control freak was invented for you. You need someone that’ll help you cut loose and live a little.”

 

“I can’t even be mad at that assessment.”

 

Just then Debbie’s phone pings with a text message notification.

 

Lou: What are your plans for the 30th?

 

Debbie: None so far


Lou: Wanna go to a Halloween party?

Chapter Text

They decided to meet at Lou’s place and take an Uber to the party. Debbie’s sitting on the hood of her car waiting for Lou to come down. After the normal 15 minute (at least) wait Lou comes out the door.

 

“I can always count on you to be-” Debbie cuts herself off as she takes a full look at Lou’s costume.

 

Lou is wearing, possibly, the tightest black leather pants ever made. Candy red leather stilettos, a tight off the shoulder black top, and a black leather jacket with a belt attached. Her hair was curly and teased with maybe an entire bottle of hairspray to keep it in place. She had on red hoop earrings that she could’ve probably worn as a bracelet if she chose to.

 

She locks her door and while holding a smile she stops on the sidewalk a couple feet away from Debbie. She pulls out a cigarette and holds in her fingers, but doesn’t light it.

 

“So, what do you think, stud ?” Adding emphasis on the last word.

 

“Olivia Newton-John has nothing on your Sandra Dee.”

 

Lou rakes her eyes over Debbie’s costume. Debbie was wearing black leggings and a long sleeved top that could’ve been a second skin, cat ears and black pumps, and perfect cat eye makeup. She comes very close to Debbie and says to her in a low voice, “do you scratch or… do you bite?”

 

“You’ll find out soon enough.”

 

“Can’t you just tell me now?”

 

“Play your cards right and I’ll do you one better, I’ll show you.”

 

And just then their ride showed up making Lou suddenly wish she’d never confirmed her appearance at the party.

 


 

They made their way into the club and through a crowd that normally wasn’t so big, but this place was known for their amazing Halloween parties.

 

“Let’s go get some drinks?” Lou says loudly.

 

Debbie nods and Lou leads the way. As they wait for their drinks to be delivered someone accidentally bumps into Debbie sort of knocking her into Lou. She wraps her arms around Lou’s shoulder to keep from falling as Lou holds her at the waist to steady her. Two tumblers and two shots are placed in front of them. They both down the shots desperately not wanting to look away from each other’s eyes.

 

As they move through the crowd, drink in hand, they move away from the main dance floor up the stairs into the lounge area.

 

“This place is packed.”

 

“Yeah, they’re always at full capacity on Halloween.”

 

“Do you come every year?”

 

“No, not every year, but every couple of years I do. Haven’t been in a while though.”

“I usually stay home around Halloween.”

 

“Scared of ghosts and witches, are you?”

 

“No” Debbie smiles. “Sometimes, my friend Tammy, throws a Halloween party for the kids in her neighborhood so I maybe help her out with that.”

 

“That sounds insane. A dozen kids hopped up on sugar running around while eating more candy? You’re braver than I thought.”

 

“Speaking of brave, I recall someone making a promise to reward me if I was brave and went on the death boat with her.”

 

“What did you have in mind? Another penguin?”

 

“Nuh uh, you made the promise so now you have to come up with the prize. I’ve already fulfilled my end of the deal.”

 

Lou leans in so she can whisper in her ear, “I can think of a few things that will leave you satisfied” and leans back onto her seat.

 

How Debbie will make it through this party she doesn’t know.

 


 

At around 2:30 in the morning the Uber drops the two off at Lou’s place.

 

“Come on, I have a spare room you can stay in. You’re in no condition to drive.”

 

“Drive? I’m in no condition to walk.” As she says this Debbie missteps and nearly falls as Lou catches her. They both laugh as Lou struggles to place her key in the lock.

 

Debbie plops down on Lou’s couch and Lou joins her a second later. “God, I’m starving.”

 

“I don’t think I have anything in the refrigerator. Wanna order something?”

 

“Let me! I know this great 24 hour diner a few blocks over.”

 

Not even half hour later they sat on the floor in between Lou’s couch and coffee table eating a classic drunk meal: burgers and fries.

 

“Did you see that one guy dressed in a brown trench coat with wings and a halo?”

 

“Yeah, what was he supposed to be?”

 

“Holy shit.” Debbie absolutely LOSES it. “Get it?”

 

Lou is now certain that the sound of Debbie’s laughter could instantly make her happy no matter what.

 

“Oh!” Debbie gets up surprisingly fast considering she’s still a bit tipsy and grabs her purse, “it’s past midnight so it’s officially Halloween so we have to watch a scary movie.” Debbie puts the DVD into the player as Lou turns on the television.

 

Debbie sits back down, both on the couch now, and snuggles up to Lou, “I need to sit close to you in case I get scared.”

 

Halfway through the movie and they’re both deep in conversation recalling stories of Halloweens past.

 

“One year when I was 7, I think, I went to a Halloween party and when I went bobbing for apples my loose tooth got stuck to the apple so when I came up for air I had blood all over my mouth. I started crying and screaming and so did all the kids. No one else was allowed to go bobbing for apples anymore because I turned the game into a biohazard.”

 

“My first Halloween in the states I was broke as shit so I didn’t have candy for the trick or treaters. My roommate had gone to a party and I stayed home. He said to just hang a sign on the door that said ‘ran out of candy’ and so I did, but either someone took it down or it got blown out the hallway window. Which meant I had all these children coming to my door and asking for candy and I didn’t wanna turn them away so I gave them all instant cup noodles. And since I was broke that meant I’d just given away my dinner for nearly two weeks.”

 

“Oh my God!” Debbie laughed, “what did you do?”

 

“After two nights my roommate noticed I wasn’t eating dinner and asked why and I told him. After he finished laughing he promised not to let me starve to death.”

 

“Well, I’m glad he fed you and kept you alive.” She picks up Lou’s hand, laces their fingers and rests both their hands on her thigh.

 

Lou strokes her hand with her thumb. “Me too.”

 

The two share a look and both lean in slowly for a kiss. The kiss is slow, sensual and intense. Both women wanting to let the other know how much they wanted them. Lou slowly brings her hand up to place on the back of Debbie’s neck. Debbie remembers Lou’s off the should top and takes full advantage of the access she has to her shoulders and neck.

 

She kisses down her neck, across her shoulder and just where her shoulder meets her arm Debbie gives her a small bite. Nothing hard, just enough to get her attention. Lou looks at her half amused, but fully aroused.

 

“To answer your question from earlier,” she whispers against Lou’s ear, “I bite.”

 

Lou lets out a low and seductive moan that leaves Debbie almost dizzy. Lou pulls her over so Debbie can straddle her. “It’s not wise to start something you can’t finish.”

 

“Can’t finish? If there’s one thing I do very, very well it’s closing a deal.” Debbie winks at Lou.

 

“Yeah? Prove it.”

 

To this day Debbie Ocean hasn’t backed down from a challenge and she’s not about to start now.

 

Debbie kisses Lou. Not slow or soft like before. Debbie wants Lou and she wants her to know. She pulls Lou’s bottom lip with her teeth slightly as they both pull away from the kiss breathing heavily.

 

Lou slips her left hand under Debbie’s shirt and makes contact with her skin. She moves that same hand and places it flat on Debbie’s back. Her other hand she slips into Debbie’s dark head of hair, closes it in a fist and gives her hair a slight tug to give her access to her neck.

 

Debbie let’s out a surprised gasp. Lou kisses her and as she does she scratches Debbie’s back nearly sending her to the ground as she leans into the blonde’s hand.

 

“If you bite then that means I get to scratch.”

 

Debbie hooks her finger at the front of Lou’s top pulling it out so she could look down into it. Lou’s hands automatically go up and Debbie slips her top off. To say Lou is beautiful is an understatement. Debbie could stare at her all night, chest bare, and still not run out of ways to tell her just how beautiful she is. But right now Debbie didn’t want to talk. She would be using her mouth, but in ways that would make words come out of Lou’s mouth.

 

She didn’t waste any time. Took one of Lou’s nipples in her mouth as she began kneading her other breast. She sucked on one and pinched the other, the opposite sensations causing Lou to just about whimper.

 

“Oh, fuck.”

 

She smiles and lightly bites it before she begins to kiss a trail between her breasts upwards until she’s back at the blonde’s mouth speaking against her lips.

 

“What was that, I didn’t hear you.”

 

Wanting to wipe that smug smile off of Debbie’s face Lou looks her in the eyes and says three words Debbie can’t argue with.

 

“Take it off.”

 

Debbie feels Lou undo her bra as her shirt is going over her head. And just as her shirt is coming off she feels Lou’s tongue on her nipple. She holds onto Lou’s shoulders with one arm and the other around a head of blonde hair.

 

Debbie knew there couldn’t possibly be any sensation better on this Earth than that of Lou’s mouth on her body. She had had plenty to drink that night but right now she was drunk on another feeling that she was sure only Lou could give her.

Chapter Text

After teasing each other to the point of madness they’d managed to remove their clothes in search of more skin to come in contact with. Lou kissed Debbie and brought her hand to the edge of Debbie’s panties. She played with it and stopped. She brought her hand up Debbie’s thigh all the way up to her hip and played with the edge again, this time hooking her finger and starting to bring it down and stopped.

 

“The next time you better not stop.” She spoke against Lou’s lips and felt her smile.

 

With that Lou starts to take off Debbie’s panties at a criminally slow pace. Purposely brushing her fingers on the skin that was just moments ago covered by the garment sending shivers up Debbie’s spine.

 

Debbie, long ago having thrown out the desire to show restraint, lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding in when they are finally off. Lou begins giving Debbie open-mouthed kisses at her knees. Purposely going as slow as she possibly can just to tease Debbie. When Lou is finally where Debbie wants her, she goes still. She’s trying to even out her breaths so she can at least try to keep up with Lou’s tantalizing pace. She has her eyes closed and her hand covering her forehead in an effort to concentrate on her breathing. All of her senses are hyper aware of Lou and her position. She hears Lou inhale deeply and let out an almost tortuous moan.

 

The blonde moves up her body, lips at the shell of her ear, “I wonder if you taste as good as you smell.”

 

“Jesus, Lou, are you going to make me beg?”

 

“Would you? For me?”

 

Debbie’s dark eyes stare into Lou’s light eyes. She can clearly see Lou wants her just as much.

 

“Remember that it’s your turn next and I intended to give back everything I receive.”

 

“I’m counting on it.” Lou gave her a wink and started a trail of kisses down her abdomen.

 

Above her belly button.

 

On her hip.

 

On her thigh, dangerously close to her groin.

 

When Debbie finally felt Lou’s mouth on her, warm and just as wet as she was, she swore. Who she was swearing at she didn’t know, but it was all she could do to not completely lose it.

 

Lou sucks one of Debbie’s lips into her mouth. Then the next. She leaves no inch unattended by her mouth. She firms her grip on Debbie’s thighs anticipating a very physical reaction for what she was about to do next. Just as she suspected as she entered Debbie with her tongue the brunette’s legs flexed. Lou glances up at Debbie eyes tightly shut and gripping the couch above her head.

 

Adjusting herself she finds a position comfortable enough for her to enter Debbie with two fingers as slowly as she possibly could. Stopping and pretending to pull out a couple times. Lou found that teasing Debbie and witnessing her every reaction was the most arousing thing she’d ever done and seen.

 

Debbie started to rock her hips in time with Lou’s pace. She was vocal and Lou was all about it. She started to pump a little faster and curl her fingers as Debbie’s breathing changed. To really give Debbie the prize she’d promised, Lou brought her face right up to her and spoke, her breath slightly coming into contact with Debbie’s clit.

 

“Do you like that?”

 

“Yes, very much.” Debbie had to keep her responses short.

 

Lou spoke again and this time as she did she got close enough so her lips just brushed against Debbie’s clit pulling a scream out of her.

 

“Is there anything else you’d like?”

 

Debbie was past the point of being able to properly respond with words so she brings one of her hands and firmly grips a fistful of Lou’s hair.

 

Lou finally wraps her lips around Debbie’s clit and moans as she does so causing Debbie’s eyes to nearly roll back into her head. She teases Debbie shamelessly. She licks it softly with her tongue wide, stimulates it with her tongue pointed, and when she senses Debbie’s getting close she takes her clit into her mouth and sucks on it as she continues to pump her curled fingers into Debbie.

 

As Debbie comes Lou swears she can see a glow around her. Her hair wild, makeup smudged and her mouth open with the most enticing sounds coming out for Lou’s ears only.

 

As Debbie’s breathing returns to normal Lou makes her way up so she’s face to face with her as she pulls out of her. Debbie lets out a sigh and Lou’s wearing a very, very smug smile.

 

She draws lazy circles on Debbie’s stomach and waits for the brunette to open her eyes and join her back on Earth.

 

Debbie smiles at her even before opening her eyes. “Stop looking at me like that.”

 

“How do you know how I’m looking at you? Your eyes are closed.”

 

“Oh, please, we both know you’re wearing the smuggest fucking crooked smile right now.” Debbie finally opens her eyes. “And I’m right.”

 

Lou kisses Debbie slowly. It’s a different kiss from the ones they’ve shared before. This one is far more intimate. Their connection now deeper. She takes her time to explore Debbie’s mouth with her tongue. As they start to break apart Debbie quickly places her hands behind Lou’s head and keeps her in place deepening the slow and sensuous kiss again.

 

Debbie breaks the kiss and places her hand on Lou’s cheek. She takes a minute to just gaze into her eyes.

 

“How’s that for keeping a promise?”

 

Debbie laughs and replies with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

 

“I hope you’re ready because it’s my turn.” She says as she slips her hand under Lou’s pants and panties and firmly grabs her ass.

 


 

The next day Debbie left Lou’s place two hours after she should’ve because Lou kept pulling her back into bed. Which was something Debbie could not say no to.

 

When she finally got home she decided to take a nap because the night before, while productive, did not give her the rest she needed to feel energized for the evening’s activities.

 

She woke up a couple hours later and stretched until muscles she didn’t even know she had were loosened. Checking her phone she saw that she better hurry up and shower because she had promised Tammy she’d go with her to take the kids trick or treating.

 

She had planned on wearing the same costume she wore to the party the night before but somehow that costume was no longer G rated. She decided to wear pyjamas, a robe, slippers and put her hair up in a deliberately messy bun.

 


 

Tammy heard her door bell ring and knew it was Debbie. “Come on in, Debbie.” She called toward the front door as she helped put the finishing touches on her son’s toilet costume.

 

“No, honey, you can’t do that. Mommy already let you dress in brown against her better judgement. You cannot add any other…. elements to your toilet costume.” Tammy finishes as she looks up to see Debbie walk into the kitchen.

 

“What are you supposed to be?”

 

“Tired.”

 

Tammy chuckles at the creativity. “I don’t understand, I thought you were going to wear the same costume you wore yesterday?”

 

“Yeah, that was the original plan, but the plans have changed.”

 

Tammy was thoroughly confused. “.....why?”

 

“Oh, um, someone bumped into me last night and spilled beer all over it so I couldn’t wear it because it wasn’t clean.”

 

“Did you forget that you have a washing machine in your house?” Tammy says through a laugh.

 

“No, I didn’t. I just couldn’t wear it.”

 

Tammy sensed that Debbie wasn’t saying something because of the little ears listening intently to the adults talk.

 

“Why don’t you guys go get your candy buckets so we can leave in a few minutes? Oh, and both of you go to the bathroom before we leave!”

 

As soon as the kids were upstairs Tammy sits in the chair next to Debbie at the breakfast table. “Ok, what aren’t you telling me? You’re hiding something.”

 

“Nothing, I just didn’t think such a form fitting costume was so appropriate to wear while trick or treating with kids.”

 

Tammy stared her friend down. She’s known Debbie too long to not know something was up. Tammy noticed Debbie’s slumped shoulders, lingering smile that reached her eyes, and her relaxed posture. Tammy’s eyes went WIDE.

 

“You two had-”

 

Debbie saw the kids coming into the kitchen and cut Tammy off. “So much to talk about later!” She turned to the kids, “who wants to go get free candy?”

 

Among a chorus of ‘me, me, me, me’ they each took one of the kids by the hand and began their trick or treating route.

Chapter Text

Two weeks after Halloween they sat in the backroom of the repair shop on a Sunday as Lou got some work done and Debbie sat in the comfortable chair in the corner with a book. A chair Lou had put there specifically for her. The shop wasn’t open but it was a rainy and cold day where the pair chose to occupy their time with quiet tasks. Debbie heard the occasional clinking of tools and without realizing it had stopped reading her book and just observed Lou at work.

 

Debbie learned that when Lou was deep in concentration on her work she pursed her lips and furrowed her brows. She reached for tools without even looking at which one it was. She would occasionally bop her head or tap her foot to music only she could hear. Sometimes letting a few notes escape her lips.

 

Debbie smiled at this. She, of all people, could tell already that Lou didn’t let her guard down like this around just anyone. She enjoyed knowing someone like she’s started to know Lou.

 

“Are you gonna stare at me like that all day? Because it’s kind of weird.” Lou said as she tried to hide a smile.

 

Debbie gets up, leaving her book on the chair, and walks over to Lou. She comes up behind her and hugs her, placing her face in Lou’s neck and breathing in.

 

“You look so cute when you’re fixing things.”

 

“I’ve been called many, many names and ‘cute’ was never one of them.”

 

“Well, that’s because they haven’t seen your Very Serious look when you’re repairing an antique clock.”

 

Lou puts everything down and turns in Debbie’s arms. “I have a reputation to uphold as a tough, hard as nails, stone cold bitch. If you go around calling me cute it’ll undo years and years of hard work. I’m afraid you’re gonna have to pay for that.”

 

“Oh yeah? How do you intend to make me pay?”

 

Lou walks them towards the stairs that led to her apartment as Debbie is still attached to her. “I can think of several ways.”

 


 

Lou was lying on the couch Debbie had recently purchased for her and placed in her home office so she could lounge around as Debbie worked. She was on her side looking through a magazine as Debbie was typing away on her computer and making calls like she worked on Wall Street.

 

Debbie had a habit of talking to herself in a soft voice. Sometimes it even seemed as if she was talking to someone else. Lou had realized that it was Debbie’s way of coping with her brother’s passing by talking to him as if he were still there. It never bothered her nor did she find it weird. For months after her own mother had passed she used to set her mother’s mug out and pour her coffee as if she was there still.

 

“Babe, can I get an arrangement for Friday? A dozen of whatever you think is best, let me write down the address.” Debbie had quickly learned to trust Lou’s instincts with flowers and never again doubted the arrangements she bought for her showings.

 

Lou sits up with an amused look on her face and watches as Debbie writes the address on a piece of paper. She gets up and makes her way over to where she’s sitting at her desk stands next to her.

 

Debbie finishes writing and extends the paper to Lou. When she doesn’t take it Debbie looks up and notices Lou has an up-to-no-good expression on her face.

 

“What?”

 

Babe?

 

“Oh, I didn’t even notice I did that. Is it ok for me to call you that?”

 

“I’m not usually one for pet names, but from you…. I like the way it sounds. Rolls off the tongue quite nicely.”

 

Debbie gets up and kisses Lou leading her to the couch. “I have a very talented tongue.”

 

“Yeah? Is that how you sell all those houses?”

 

Debbie laughs. “No, but I can show you what I can do with it.”

 

The both of them fell on the couch laughing and kissing as hands went up shirts and down pants.

 


 

Debbie and Tammy sat out in the patio of their favorite café waiting for Lou to arrive.

 

“I can’t believe I’m finally gonna meet your girlfriend. And it only took forever.”

 

“Is she my girlfriend?”

 

“Debbie, what?”

 

“No, I mean, yeah sure we’ve been exclusively dating each other for a bit now, but I feel like a teenager introducing her as my girlfriend .”

 

“Debbie, you’re ridiculous. If she’s as hot as you say she is I’ll introduce her as my girlfriend, sheesh. By the way, where is she? It’s 1:15 already so she’s fifteen minutes late and I’m hungry.”

 

“No, this still isn’t late in Lou Time. She’s usually anywhere between 20-30 minutes late for everything.”

 

“And you, the most anal control freak I know, are ok with this? And by the looks of it you’ve already gotten used to it.”

 

As Tammy finished her sentence a loud roaring motorcycle pulled up into the spot a few feet away from where they sat.

 

“She’s early.” Debbie says as she sips her lemonade.

 

Lou gets off her bike, takes off her helmet and shakes her hair. She puts the keys in her pocket, unzips her jacket and puts on her sunglasses and makes her way towards the café.

 

“How does she make unzipping her jacket look so-”

 

“Cool, sexy? Yeah, I know.”

 

“Ok, I get it. I totally get it, 100%. She’s hot. I’d definitely wait 20-30 minutes every time for her.”

 

Debbie smiled at her friends reaction of approval.

 


 

The second Monday of December was cold and rainy. They sat in the car quietly holding hands.

 

“There’s no rush, whenever you’re ready.” Lou spoke softly but the disturbance in the silence was so loud.

 

It was Danny’s birthday. The first one since he’d passed. Lou had spent the night holding Debbie and consoling her as she cried silent tears. Debbie finally fell asleep sometime after 4 am and Lou took the opportunity to go downstairs and make a special floral arrangement for Debbie to leave at his grave.

 

Debbie looked at Lou with red, teary eyes and nodded. They both got out of the car and Lou got the arrangement from the back.

 

“Lou… it’s perfect.” She was seeing it for the first time.

 

“You lead the way.”

 

They stood in front of Danny’s grave quietly, the only sounds were that of the rain and Debbie’s sniffling.

 

“Hey, Danny.” Her tears wouldn’t stop. “Happy birthday.”

 

Debbie looked up and closed her eyes fearing this was a bad idea when she felts Lou’s arm around her shoulders and found the strength to open her eyes and continue.

 

“We brought you flowers, Lou and I. She made the arrangement. It’s very tasteful, you’d love it.” Lou hands the vase over to Debbie. “You’d like her, too. You two would really get along.”

 

She places the vase down. “She makes me happy, Danny. Really happy.” She looks at Lou and manages to smile through her tears.

 

Lou takes her hand and interlocks their fingers. “I miss you, you annoying son of a bitch.” Debbie laughs out.

 

After a while the two make their way back to the car. They sat inside and Lou didn’t start the car immediately waiting for Debbie to give her a sign that she’s ready to go.

 

Debbie takes Lou’s hand over the center console. She grips it tightly and then softens her hold. She wraps her other hand around it too bringing it up to place a kiss on it.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Lou simply nodded hoping that somehow Debbie understood that she’d follow her to the moon if she asked.

Chapter Text

A couple of weeks into January and Debbie sat across from Tammy for coffee.

 

“The kids are finally back in school, thank god . Also, I love your scarf!”

 

“Lou got it for me.” Debbie smiled and snuggled into the scarf.

 

“She chose well, that color looks amazing on you.” The waitress brings their order to the table. “So, how are you two doing?”

 

“Tammy. Tammy, I’m so happy. I haven’t been this happy in…. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy if I’m being honest. Not even with Claude.”

 

Debbie’s ex husband, Claude Becker, was the man of her dreams. Tall, handsome, a writer and English. Or so she thought. Their relationship was the stuff movie scripts were written about. That is until he committed identity fraud, framed Debbie and ran away. Debbie was facing serious jail time, but luckily he was caught. Tammy’s husband served as Debbie’s lawyer and was able to prove that Claude was alone in his criminal activity. The divorce was almost ten years ago and ever since Debbie hadn’t let anyone truly get close to her for fear of having something horrible happen to her because of one of her relationships again.

 

“It shows. You smile at nothing and your skin is positively radiant. If I didn’t know any better I’d think you were pregnant.”

 

Debbie snorted, “ok.”

 

Just then Lou walked in. She stood just inside the door looking for Debbie. She found her and quickly made her way over.

 

“Hey, Babe, hey, Tammy.” She bent down and gave Debbie a quick kiss. “The keys?”

 

“Here you go, I’m gonna need those back though.”

 

“You’ll get them back tonight, I promise.” She waved bye to the two of them and ran out of the coffee shop.

 

“What was that all about?”

 

“She locked her keys in her apartment so she came to get mine to get in.”

 

“You have a key? She gave you a key?”

 

Debbie nods. “Right after our midnight New Year kiss she slipped it in my hand.”

 

“You guys are getting pretty serious then.”

 

“Yeah, I know and I’m a little bit terrified.”

 

“Oh, Debbie, don’t do this to yourself. She’s a good person.”

 

“I thought Claude was too.”

 

“Debbie, look at me. Lou isn’t Claude. She’s a good person that is so into you it’s almost annoying. You have nothing to worry about. You can let go and just let yourself be happy.”

 

“Thanks, sometimes I need to be reminded.”

 

“Ok, I’ve gotta pop into the bathroom.”

 

As Tammy walks away Debbie looks through her emails and one stands out in particular. She received an email from Danny’s former realty group. They wanted to meet with her and discuss a potential business opportunity.

 


 

Later that week, the day she was supposed to meet with Danny’s old team, Debbie arrived at Lou’s place completely agitated. And Lou noticed immediately.

 

“Hey, Deb, what’s wrong?”

 

Debbie had barely walked in, left the door open and was pacing behind the couch.

 

“I met with them. You know what they want? They want me to fill Danny’s spot. They said Danny always spoke so highly of me and they only waited because they wanted to respect my time of mourning. Then, when I was leaving the meeting I walk past a bookstore with a giant poster of his fucking face on it-”

 

“Danny?”

 

“What? No, Claude. Can you believe he’s writing a book? Yeah, turns out he got out early for good behavior and now he’s playing the fucking victim and writing a book about it. I cannot BELIEVE THIS.” Debbie was furious.

 

“Deb, honey, you’re not making any sense.” Lou was now standing in front of her worried.

 

Debbie stopped pacing and looked at her. Everything was happening so fast. It felt like the walls were closing in on her. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. Everything happened so fast with Lou and then her late brother’s company wanted her to fill his position and now her criminal ex-husband wrote a book about his whole ordeal and undoubtedly would make himself out to be the victim while Debbie would be painted to look like the villain for turning on her husband. Debbie needed to think. She needed time to sort through this hurricane that her life had suddenly turned into.

 

“Lou, I need some time to myself.”

 

“Ok, sure, I’ll go pick up some take out and you stay here. Take a hot shower, it’ll make you feel better.” Lou goes to pick up her purse.

 

“No, Lou, I need some time to myself…. from us.”

 

“What?” Lou’s mouth went dry.

 

“Too much is happening too quickly and I….I don’t know anymore.”

 

“You don’t know what?”

 

“I just….don’t know.”

 

“Debbie…”

 

Debbie started backing away. “I’m sorry, Lou. I just need time to figure everything out. I’m sorry.”

Chapter Text

After two weeks of no contact at all from Debbie, Tammy became concerned and went to her house.

 

After the third time she rang the doorbell she saw Debbie peek through the curtains and felt relieved.

 

“Hey”

 

Without a word Debbie opened the door to let her in. Tammy waited by the door waiting to see where Debbie would go. Debbie went to the living room and curls up on one end of the couch while Tammy joins her on the other end.

 

“How are you doing?”

 

Debbie just shakes her head and silently cries. “I don’t know what is happening anymore. I’ve lost control of my life.” Tammy scooches over and hugs her friend.

 

“Debbie, hey, it’s ok. I’m here for you. Tell me what’s wrong.”

 

After Debbie has relayed the whole story to Tammy she sighs deeply and says, “we need tea.”

 

About ten minutes later Tammy comes back in with two piping hot mugs. “Chamomile for you because it looks like you haven’t slept in days.”

 

“Thanks” Debbie accepts the tea and only after her first sip does she realize how cold she was.

 

They sit in silence for a few minutes and Tammy waits until she has an idea of what to even say.

 

“Debbie, you’re my best friend and you know I love you like a sister and because I’m your friend I’m not going to mince words. Yes, sometimes it feels like we want to just disappear because life is awful and people are the worst, but, honey, your world is not ending. You got thrown a few curve balls and instead of hitting them outta the park you chose to duck.”

 

Debbie didn’t say anything.

 

“I realize that finding out about Claude’s book right after being asked to seemingly fill Danny’s shoes is a lot for one afternoon, but it’s no reason to run away from Lou.

 

At this Debbie looked up at Tammy and began to cry again. “I fucked up, Tammy. I fucked up really bad this time and I don’t know if it’s something that can be fixed.”

 

“Have you tried talking to her? Calling? Visiting?”

 

“She doesn’t wanna see me, Tam.”

 

“But have you tried?”

 

Debbie shook her head no.

 

“Debbie, listen to me. Even though ghosts from your past are coming back to haunt you, you will get through this. And you don’t have to do it alone. You know you’re part of our family. That asshole will get sued so fast if anything even remotely untrue about you is in that book. Tom will make sure of it. And as for Danny’s old job… you can take it if you like, but if you do, make sure they realize they’re hiring Debbie Ocean and not Danny Ocean 2.0. You are your own person.”

 

Debbie hugs her friend tightly. “How did I get so lucky to have you as a best friend?”

 

Tammy offers Debbie a tissue. “I still think you should try seeing Lou. Get up, get showered, and go see her. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but you should definitely go.”

 

Debbie nods. “I know.”

 


 

Tammy parks her car and looks ahead into the pet boutique. “They make birthday cakes for dogs?” She gets out, walks past the flower shop and into the repair shop. She’d never been there although it somehow felt like she had just by hearing Debbie talk about it.

 

Just as she’s walking in Lou is coming from the workroom in the back.

 

“Hi, Lou.”

 

“Hey, Tammy.”

 

Tammy walks up to the counter and looks at her new friend. “How are you?”

 

“How do you think?” Lou is deeply hurt.

 

“Has Debbie told you anything about Claude?”

 

Lou shakes her head.

 

“It’s not my place to tell you that story, but suffice it to say that she isn’t freaking out for nothing.”

 

“Is that her ex-husband?”

 

“Yes, and he’s a real piece of fucking work.” Tammy’s tone dripping with anger still at the mention of Debbie’s ex. “Have you tried talking to her?”

 

“She said she needed time to herself, Tammy. So that’s what I’m giving her.”

 

“I know. I’m just a little bit afraid for her that her time may run out?” Tammy looks at Lou and holds her breath.

 

Lou stood at a distance with her arms crossed. She finally looked up at Tammy and shook her head no.

 

“I’m glad to hear that.” Tammy gives her a small smile. “Oh, before I forget. I’m head of PTA at my kids’ school which means I’m in charge of organizing the Spring Formal and I would like to order all the flowers from your shop.”

 

“You don’t have to do that.”

 

“I know I don’t have to. I’m doing it because I want a florist I can trust to do a good job. And besides you’re used to my mood swings by now.”

 

Lou cracks a smile.

 

Tammy begins to leave, but stops at the door. “She misses you, Lou. She misses you so, so much.”

 


 

Debbie turned down the alley until she found somewhere to park her car. She made her way to the door with the light over it and pressed the buzzer.

 

“Hello?” Lou’s voice sounded over the intercom.

 

“Hey, it’s me. It’s Debbie.”

 

For a minute there was no response and Debbie was beginning to lose hope and get ready to leave when the buzzer sounded so she quickly opened the door. She climbed the stairs all the way to the door to Lou’s apartment hoping there was still time to undo all the damage she’d done.

Chapter Text

When Debbie arrives at the top of the stairs she sees the door is cracked and slowly opens it.

 

“Hello?” She hears the toilet flush and then sees Lou walking out drying her hands on a towel. “Hi, Lou.”

 

Lou sits on the back of her couch and crosses her arms. “Hello.”

 

“Um, how are you?”

 

“Why are you here, Debbie?”

 

Debbie sighs and puts her hands on her face lightly pressing her fingers into her eyes. “Lou, we need to talk. I need to talk to you. Please just listen to what I have to say.”

 

Without a word Lou walks around to sit on the couch in a silent agreement to listen to what Debbie has to say.

 

After a moment Debbie walks over, her coat hanging over her arm. She looks at Lou as if to ask if she can place them on the table and she nods.

 

“First of all, thank you for agreeing to listen.”

 

The room is eerily quiet. Debbie takes a deep breath and begins.

 

“About eleven and a half years ago I met a man named Claude.”

 


 

Two hours, one pizza and a few drinks later Debbie finally says all she has to say.

 

“I know it’s a lot to take in and I don’t expect you to absorb it in one go, but I just needed you to understand what was going on in my head.”

 

“What I don’t understand is why you needed time away from me .”

 

“I had just found out the last person I let get close to me and ended up ruining my life had written his version of the events. And earlier that day I mentioned to Tammy you had given me a key and….it wasn’t you I needed time away from exactly. I was terrified that it was going to happen again.”

 

“That was going to happen again? That I would commit identity fraud and frame you?”

 

“No,” Debbie looked into Lou’s eyes. How she missed those eyes. She looked at her chin and then up to the slight dip just below her bottom lip. She missed her so fucking much it hurt. “I was afraid that someone I love would tear me apart again.”

 

Debbie sits quietly waiting for a reaction.

 

Lou studies her for a moment. She slowly takes one of Debbies hands and interlocks their fingers. She looks at their hands for a few moments. She scoots closer to her on the couch.

 

“Debbie, I would never ever do anything to purposely hurt you.” She brings their hands to her lips and kisses Debbie’s hand. She leans in and kisses Debbie slowly, desperately trying to tell her without words just how much she’s missed her too. When they break apart Lou rests her forehead on Debbie’s and says in the softest voice.

 

“I love you, too.”

 

Tears spill from Debbie’s eyes. “I’m so sorry. I know I hurt you because I was afraid you’d hurt me and I know this doesn’t justify it, but just… I’m sorry.” Debbie kissed her.

 

After a minute Debbie gets up and without a word she extends her hand to Lou and the blonde silently takes it and lets Debbie lead her to the bedroom.

 


 

Debbie wants to make sure Lou knows she means the world to her and that she will regret having hurt her forever.

 

Debbie steps into Lou and kisses her. She kisses her with all the love in the world. She kisses her trying her hardest to help stop the pain she’s caused. She feels Lou’s tears mingle in their kiss.

 

“I love you so much.”

 

Debbie feels Lou’s fingers unbuttoning her shirt. She really wants to show Lou how much she means to her, but understands the importance of letting Lou do as she wants. Lou felt powerless in this whole situation and if this little bit of control helped her heal, she’d let her have it.

 

Lou’s hands start to tremble and she can’t undo the buttons. “I thought I’d lost you forever.” Lou kissed her again.

 

Debbie finished taking off her own shirt and then did Lou’s.

 

“I’m so sorry I ran like that.”

 

They finished undressing each other and Debbie walked Lou to the bed and sat her down. She gently pushed Lou’s shoulder letting her know to lie back. She kissed nearly every inch of exposed skin on Lou’s body. She tried desperately to make up for lost time.

 

Lou places a hand on the back of her head as she kisses a searing trail down her abdomen. Debbie shows Lou that she loves her. That she’s sorry that she ever doubted anything about their relationship. Debbie uses her mouth and her hands to worship the body before her. She makes damn sure that Lou understands.

 

As Lou comes Debbie’s name leaves her lips no louder than a whisper in the otherwise silent room. Lou hugs Debbie’s head to her stomach as her breathing evens out. Debbie makes her way back up so they’re face to face.

 

Lou rakes her fingers through Debbie’s hair. “I don’t want you to ever feel like you’re alone in life. I’m here and will be as long as you’ll have me. We can face this terrible book he’s publishing together. You don’t have to do anything alone. Not anymore.”

 

Debbie cried for what seemed like the twentieth time that night. She holds Lou’s wrist and kisses the palm of her hand. “I love you and it scares me so much.”

 

“Deb, you can trust me. Do you remember what happened the first time I asked you to trust me?”

 

Debbie smiled thinking back to the first time she walked into the flower shop.

 

“Is this your way of bragging about your talents as a florist?”

 

“Oh, I have many talents, but my talent as a florist is the last one I want to show you right now.”

 

The two of them fall easily back into their old rhythm.

Chapter Text

Tammy opened the door and greeted Debbie and Lou with a huge smile. “Happy Easter!”

 

“Happy Easter, Tammy.” Debbie smiled.

 

“Here, these are for you.” Lou hands her the most beautiful Easter bouquet she’s ever seen.

 

“Oh my god these are amazing, come in, come in!” Tammy ushers them in. “How’s business, Lou?”

 

After the Spring Formal the parents and teachers alike had absolutely fallen in love with Lou’s arrangements.

 

“It’s good. I was surprised with the response after the Spring Formal to be perfectly honest.”

 

“Debbie, she’s being modest, isn’t she? Because honestly you’ve got enough talent to put every other flower shop in town out of business.”

 

“I’ve told her a million times, but she won’t bother to listen.”

 

“Really, though, Lou. If you’re ever looking to get more business let me know. I know a lot of people and a whole network of event organizers that could have you booked through Valentine’s Day.”

 

“No, we’re going away for Valentine’s Day.” Debbie says chewing on a carrot stick.

 

“Oh, lucky you. Where to?”

 

“The Swiss Alps.”

 

“Wanna trade lives?” Tammy jokes.

 


 

They’re both lying on Lou’s couch, limbs all tangled, Debbie’s doing a crosswords puzzle and Lou is rubbing her feet.

 

“Do you know any good realtors?”

 

Debbie puts her book down and slides her glasses onto her head. “Is that supposed to be funny?”

 

Lou smiles at her. “I’m serious.”

 

“What are you getting at, Miller?” Debbie playfully smacks her with her foot.

 

“I’ve just been thinking recently that maybe this apartment doesn’t have enough space for me. Thought maybe a house would be better. Now that I’m a grown up and all.”

 

Debbie sits up and crosses her legs on the couch. “You’re serious.”

 

Lou nods.

 

“I can help you with whatever you need. What are you looking for?”

 

“Three, maybe four bedrooms. At least two bathrooms. Two stories, maybe a backyard.”

 

“Are you looking to start a garden?” Debbie jokes. “What do you need such a big house for? Are you gonna turn the extra rooms into walk-in closets? Lord knows you’ve got enough clothes to fill that many closets.”

 

Lou smiles. “I was thinking maybe you’d like to come live with me.”

 

Debbie cocks her head slightly, “are you serious?”

 

Lou nods.

 

And with the biggest smile Lou has ever seen Debbie advances on her and says yes a bunch of times as she kisses her.

 


 

Lou places the paper plates and other utensils on the tables in her and Debbie’s backyard.

 

“Tammy says she’s bringing sides and dessert. And drinks. And the food. It almost feels like she doesn’t trust my cooking.”

 

“That’s not true, babe. She let you make the sangria.”

 

You made the sangria.”

 

“You look cute when you pout.”

 

“Are you even allowed to be celebrating the Fourth of July? Aren’t you still loyal to The Queen. ” The last word Debbie said with the most ridiculous accent.

 

“Yeah, I forgot to mention that I’m here on a top secret mission as a spy two hundred plus years after the war ended.”

 

“I want to make a “the Australian is coming, the Australian is coming” joke, but it’s not ready yet.”

 

Lou gets up and walks towards the sliding door that leads to the kitchen.

 

“Where are you going?”

 

“If you’re gonna keep making those jokes, then I’m gonna need a stiff drink.”

 

Debbie smiles. “I’m hilarious and you know it.”

 


 

It was a little after 7 am on Christmas morning. The house was as quiet as it could possibly be. The snow was falling softly and steadily outside. Lou was outside on the curb.

 

“Thanks for keeping it at your place.”

 

“Yeah, sure no problem.” Constance smiled. “Sick house!”

 

“We’ll be sure to have you over sometime. Merry Christmas, Constance.”

 

“You too, Lou.”

 


 

Lou nearly tip-toed back into the house hoping the surprise wouldn’t get ruined. She quietly got back in bed and put down the gift between her and Debbie. As if on cue Debbie senses her back in bed and turns around, eyes still shut.

 

“Mm, Merry Christmas, babe.”

 

“Merry Christmas to you too.”

 

Not even a minute later Debbie felt a tongue on her eye. “Lou, I’m all for trying new stuff with you, but licking my eye isn’t hot or sexy.” When Debbie opened her eyes she realized that it wasn’t Lou that had licked her, it was their new puppy.

 

Debbie’s eyes shoot open completely and she gasps. Taking that as a sign that it’s play time the puppy pounces on Debbie’s head and Lou laughs.

 

“Is this for real? He’s ours? We have a dog?!”

 

Lou nods, happy that her surprise worked out. “Do you remember him?”

 

Debbie picks up the puppy and cradles him like a baby. He immediately starts chewing her hair. “Is he…..is it the same one from the shelter we saw a few weeks ago?!”

 

“Same guy.” Lou watches the pure, concentrated happiness practically ooze out of Debbie’s pores. “He needs a name.”

 

Debbie looks at the Dalmation puppy in her bed playing with the string to Lou’s robe. She notices he has a particularly big black spot over his right eye and thinks to herself about how it looks like a boxer with a black eye.”

 

“How about Rocky?”

 

“I like that. Rocky.”

 

“Are we gonna hyphenate? Is it gonna be Ocean-Miller or Miller-Ocean.”

 

“Deb, he’s a dog. He licks his own balls. He won’t care if he even has a last name.”

 

“Ok. Ocean-Miller it is.”

 


 

Two years. That’s how long Debbie and Lou had been together. In that time they’d faced hardships and very happy times in their relationship. Lou had decided at least a month before the anniversary of their first real date that she was going to do it. She had never been more certain of anything in her life.

 

When they got out of the car Debbie recognized the place instantly. “The planetarium. Wow, it’s been a really long time since we’ve been here.”

 

Lou went through the trouble of recreating their first date down to the last detail. “Do you remember the first time we came here?”

 

Lou feels her nod as they’re both almost occupying the same space while sitting so close together.

 

“Well, I didn’t know it then, but I wanted to ask you something now that we’re here again.”

 

“Sure ok. Debbie leans forward to pour them wine. When she turns back around to give Lou her glass she sees her hand extended and something small but shiny in her hand. Something that catches the light just right.

 

Debbie looks up at her. “Lou….”

 

“That’s not exactly an answer….” Lou jokes to soothe her own nervousness.

 

“Lou!” Debbie starts laughing uncontrollably.

 

“What? What’s wrong?”

 

Debbie starts digging through her purse and finally pulls something out. She extends her hand and in it Lou can see something small but shiny. Something that catches the light just right.

 

“You’re joking.” Lou begins to laugh suddenly not nervous anymore.

 

Lou grabs her left hand and let’s the ring hover just over her finger and gives her one last look. Debbie is crying and smiling and nodding vigorously.

 

Debbie does the same and Lou nods giving her silent acceptance, not trusting her voice at the moment.

 

Together under seemingly all the stars in the universe Lou and Debbie promise each other with a kiss that they’re going to fiercely love each other, like only they can, for as long as they both shall live.

 

The End.