Jen can feel her eyes slowly drifting closed, the low murmur of the television in the background lulling her into a sleep that she desperately needs; it had been a long day (a long week, a long life) and she struggles to keep her eyes open, to concentrate on whatever movie it was that they had all voted to watch during the discussion earlier around the dinner table (she's sure it was something to do with superheroes but she forgets which ones).
The lights are low and there's an almost empty bowl of popcorn on the table. She can feel the warmth of Judy pressed against her; they're on the sofa next to each other, under an old blanket and she's almost sure that Judy's hand is resting on her leg. She won't say anything about it and neither will Judy of course, mosty because she's not really sure what to say; it doesn't mean anything obviously and they're just friends. And yet, the placement of Judy's hand, the casual intimacy of it all doesn't quite feel like friendship.
She takes a glance at the boys several feet in front of her who are practically pressed up against the television, enraptured by whatever movie franchise plays out on the screen and Jen moves her gaze just enough to see Judy next to her, her head slowly dipping, almost to rest on Jen's shoulder and she realises Judy's fallen asleep.
She watches Judy for a moment, peaceful and content in her sleep, until Jen suddenly feels strangely like she's crossing a boundary that she really shouldn't be crossing. She's not had many close friends in her life, certainly not female ones, but she's almost sure that watching someone sleep is probably not classified as friend-like behaviour.
After a moment, Judy's head eventually rests gently on Jen's shoulder and Jen has the sudden urge to kiss the top of Judy's head, to hold her hand underneath the blanket, to be close to her.
She can't understand why she's feeling like this; Jen tells herself it's because she's lonely and she's not had been intimate with anyone for what feels like years; as depressing as it is, it must be because she's just desperate for some "adult" company; all she's doing is projecting, that's all, Judy is a placeholder for the attentions she wants to really bestow on a man who will end up taking her to bed.
Except, she's not sure why the thought of kissing Judy,and Judy specifically, has such butterflies running through her stomach; she's not going to think of what it might mean, what it might mean for who she thought she was and maybe who she actually is.
Instead, she stares at the screen, partially obscured by Charlie and Henry's heads, and tells herself that they're just friends.
"Gorgeous night huh?"
Judy gestured to the window and Jen murmurred her agreement as she stood next to Judy at the sink, drying the plate in her hands before placing it on the side and moving to the next.
All four of them had spent most of the day lounging around the garden; she had felt so lucky in that moment to have both her boys with her, happy and thriving (Charlie had even indulged Henry playing some ridiculous invented game in the pool with his brother) and Jen had managed to unwind, at least slightly, lazily reading a magazine that she wasn't particularly interested in and chatting to Judy with a glass of wine in her hand and some music in the background. It had felt so ordinarily perfect that she had never wanted it to end.
She felt rested and warm inside and content; a feeling she had feared would never return.
And here she was at the sink, washing and drying dishes with her best friend, feeling like she was part of something that from the outside looked so domestic that it hurt Jen to think that she might not have it forever.
"You okay?" Judy asked out of nowhere, "You're pretty quiet...."
Jen forced a smile on her face and she was sure that Judy wasn't convinced by it; they were standing too close, almost shoulder to shoulder, for Judy to believe a smile that wasn't real. "I'm fine, just tired,"
Judy scoffed, "We've literally spent the whole day doing absolutely nothing," She grinned from her place at the sink, nudging Jen's shoulder slightly, "How can you be tired?"
Jen managed a more convincing smile this time, nudging her back,"Probably because of beating you so many times in Henry's game..."
Judy's face turned into a look of mock affront, "There weren't even any rules, he kept changing them!"
Jen grinned back, "Yeah, I'm not really sure what was going on either but he seemed happy...didn't he?" Jen asked, her brow knitting into a slight frown, her doubts and second-guessing about her mothering skills were suffocating, "He was happy right?"
Judy nodded quickly,"Oh yeah, they both were."
Jen relaxed, "Good," She paused and sighed, "Good."
There was a comfortable silence as they finished the chore, and Jen could hear Judy humming to herself as she cleaned each plate and Jen suddenly had that feeling return, of wanting to hold the moment (hold Judy) so close to her that it hurt.
Maybe if she just put down the dish cloth, if she just turned to face Judy and pressed her lips against hers, just once, so she'd know. If she just got it out her system, maybe it would stop these daydreams of what Judy's skin would feel like under her own, how she would taste, how Judy would look pressed into the mattress and Jen kissing her way down her body.
Judy carries on humming and Jen know she's completely and absolutely fucked.
The park is too busy and the queue is too long and Jen wonders how exactly she was the one that had to stand in line for overpriced ice cream cones that would probably melt by the time she finally found where the boys and Judy had decided to sit amongst the throngs of people.
She's checked all her work emails and replied to all the ones she needs to, ignored the ones from Lorna and sighs as she returns her phone to her pocket. She's barely moved in the last ten minutes and she's seriously considering telling them they had sold out when she feels an arm slide through her own and she has to tamper the smile that threatens to appear on her face at Judy's appearance.
"Hey!" Judy beams and Jen feels lighter somehow, like the sun has properly started shining, "Ouch, this queue is long,"
Jen rolls her eyes good naturedly, "Really? Hadn't noticed," and Judy grins back at her in a way that makes Jen forget about anyone else but her.
"The boys okay?"
"Oh yeah, playing some game on Charlie's phone..." Judy tailed off, gesturing towards where Charlie and Henry sat, closer than Jen had expected, underneath a large tree in the sought after shade. "Sooo...." Judy started and then mumbled her way to silence.
"What was that?" Jen asked, stepping forward a spot as she tried to gauge how much longer it would take to get to the ice cream stand.
"Okay, well, er....I've kind of been nominated to ask...."
"Okay, we drew straws, Henry lost and then guilt tripped me," Judy explained and then shook her head, "Okay, so not the point...I've been nominated to ask whether we can have a family day out tomorow,"
"And this isn't a family day out?" Jen asks, trying to calm her heartbeat. A family. They are a family.
Judy bites her lip and Jen wonders exactly when her brain had decided that it might be the cutest thing she's seen, "Well...the boys want to go to Adventure Land," Jen groans immediately at the thought of it, "No, but they really do and I know you hate that, but we can go and ..and ...the boys can go on the rides and we can mock everyone there?"
She takes a deep breath, "Fine," Judy squeals and immediately wraps her arms around Jen's neck and she can't resist putting her own around Judy's waist; Judy pulls back slightly to thank her, but not enough; their faces are so close together that she can feel Judy's breath on her cheek. She wonders what she would do if she wasn't surrounded by the people in the queue, what she would do if they were alone, and she was someone braver.
"You're the best," Judy tells her, but her voice is quiet and there's a hint of something there, like maybe she knows, maybe Jen is really that fucking obvious.
"Yeah, well, you owe me," They're still too close, still too wrapped in each other until there's a polite cough from behind them and Jen realises the line has moved forward significantly. They quickly untangle from each other; Jen tries to ignore the feeling of loss without Judy in her arms as Judy makes her excuses to go and tell the boys.
Jen moves forward in the line, watching as Judy practically skips over to the boys who are watching her approach eagerly; and when she puts up her thumbs up to them, to signify her success, Jen can almost hear the excitement bubbling from them despite their distance.
"Is that your wife? You make a lovely couple," Jen turns to face the woman behind her in the queue who had clearly observed their interactions, "You have a lovely family,"
She's about to protest, about to correct the woman's assumption when she quickly glances at Judy, sat down with Charlie next to her and Henry chatting away, Judy clearly nodding along at all the right places.
A family of four.
Two moms and their sons.
"Yeah," Jen says and there's a knot in her throat at the duality, the truth and the falsity of it, "Yeah, we do."
"You having a good time?"
Jen knows she could lie, knows she could also tell the truth and so, she settles for between, "Eh, it's tolerable," She says with a hint of a smile and Judy seems satisfied with the response. They're leaning against the barrier of one of the rides that looked too high, too fast and too unsafe but that the boys insisted that was perfectly fine.
She can just about see the back of Charlie's head amongst the queue of people waiting to board the ride before they disappear around the corner and Jen turns around to face the rest of the sprawling theme park, "Still don't know how you managed to persuade me to come," She grumbles and Judy laughs and Jen's breath catches when she realises how much she loves the sound,"You having an okay day? I know it's not exactly your idea of fun either,"
Judy shrugs nonchalantly, "Nah, it's good. The boys really wanted to come and I didn't want you to have to face this on your own,"
Jen nods," Probably would have punched someone by now otherwise,"
"You were close even with me here, thought you were gonna throw fists with that guy earlier," Judy grins and Jen huffs in response.
"Well, maybe he shouldn't have tried to push his kids in when Henry was clearly standing there first," Jen defends herself with a small scowl, "Okay, maybe I didn't need to tell him I'd ram his tickets up his ass if he didn't stop queue jumping,"
"Oh my god," Judy says suddenly, gesturing toards a souvenir area across the otherside of the plaza where they were waiting for Henry and Charlie, "It's one of those cool old photobooths...." Jen knows the question coming before Judy has uttered the words, "Can we?"
"Er, we can't, you can," Jen says but feels her resolve crumbling when Judy turns to look at her with a disappointed face and sad eyes that Jen is almost sure that Judy knows the power of. Judy clearly senses the battle has already been won as she starts to drag Jen towards it.
Another couple exit the booth as Judy rifles through her purse for some change and triumphantly locates the exact amount needed, practically pulling Jen behind the curtain of the photobooth.
"You know you want to, so you can take that pissed off look off your face," Judy says, "You have to smile,"
"Fine," Jen plasters a clearly fake cheesy smile on her face, "Better?"
Judy grins smugly, "Much," She quickly reads the instructions underneath the small glass mirror which Jen supposes the camera is behind, "Aw, it's so retro.... the flash goes off every ten seconds so you can change the pose and the fun part is that you don't know what they'll turn out like,"
"Hmm fun," Jen rolls her eyes and receives a nudge in response.
Jen feels strangely nervous; she's not a 'fun' person; she's the sarcastic, biting one who makes adult jokes and that watches other people have fun and takes the piss out of them. And here she is, with a fucking sunbeam next to her, that she can't take her eyes off.
Jen finally murmurs her assent and they pose, arms around each other with cheesy smiles and the flash goes off. They suck in their cheeks like they're on social media for the next photo and as the next flash goes off, they cross their eyes and make a silly face that she's sure Henry will enjoy.
For the last photo, Judy decides to smile into the camera; in the seconds before the flash goes off, Jen can see Judy's reflection in the mirror and her heart leaps for some reason; she's so fucking drawn to Judy, it's like she can't think of anything or anyone else and out of nowhere, Jen presses her lips against Judy's cheek.
The flash goes off.
Judy turns to look at her with her fucking doe-like eyes and Jen knows she can tell the truth or tell a lie.
"Okay," She pulls back the curtain and tries to forget the confused (or maybe hopeful although Jen's not going to go down that road of delusion) expression on Judy's face, "Let's see what they look like then,"
She goes with the lie.
It shouldn't feel like a date (it isn't a date) and yet Jen's treating it like it is; she had shaved everywhere, carefully applied her makeup with a diligence she forgot she had and her hair looks better than it has done in years (it definitely isn't a date though).
They had been to dinner at a far too expensive restaurant, laughed too much and she was almost sure there were several moments where Judy was looking at her, as if she was properly seeing her, seeing them; what they are, what they are slowly morphing into, what they could be.
Now they're wandering to some club that's playing music that she doesn't recognise (and doesn't particularly want to) with girls who look they're young enough to be her daughter, except Judy's dragging her along by the hand it feels so right and she knows exactly how good they look together (she's thought of it so many times now that it's become kind of a joke).
And she ends up propped up at the bar, and her hand somehow makes it to the small of Judy's back as she returns from the toilets. Judy doesn't acknowledge it of course, but she feels her rest into it, and Jen's hand slips lower and lower on her back until she can almost fucking feel the waistline of Judy's underwear and suddenly hits her; fuck, what is she thinking, what the fuck is she doing.
"Jen, I....." Judy starts but mercifully, there's a tap on Judy's shoulder from the man next to her, clearly intending to strike up a conversation with Judy that the too loud music obscures from Jen's hearing so she waits for the bartender to grab her whatever alcohol is in the vicinity
She almost downs the drink in one before turning back to see Judy still talking to the nameless man; Jen looks him over briefly, pondering whether she's attracted to him, whether she's become someone else since Ted's death or whether she's just starting to understand more about herself that she had previously tried to ignore or to pretend wasn't even there.
She turns to watch the heaving dancefloor and tries not to listen to the conversation Judy is having with the guy who is clearly coming onto her.
"This is Jen," She hears Judy say to Nameless Man, and she feels Judy's small hand around her wrist, trying to pull her into the conversation. Briefly she looks at Judy's face and she can tell with one look that Judy doesn't want to be in this conversation, that she isn't interested and in amongst the fucking relief that Jen feels, she wants to give Judy an out, "Jen, this is Mark,"
"Hi Mark," She mimics a faux wide smile as her arm snakes up Judy's back, around her shoulders. She can feel Judy momentarily tense under the contact as Jen's arm lazily drapes over her but she quickly settles into the touch. A look of realisation dawns on Mark's face but Jen decides to give him the killer blow, kissing Judy's temple and for a second, she thinks she's gone too far, played this game too much but Judy's hand curls around her waist instead, squeezing tightly, and for once Jen doesn't know what the fuck Judy means (thank you maybe, or Jen hopes don't stop or I want you back or maybe one of the other million fantasies she has about what Judy might say to her if they stop dancing around this thing between them).
"I'm just gonna go actually...." Mark gestures to the throng of dancers, "Think my friends are waiting for me...."
He disappears amongst the crowd and Judy turns to face her, eyes wide and her face flushed and god Jen wants to kiss her so fucking badly she feels like she might die if she doesn't.
"Let's go home."
The drive home from the club is quiet; the Uber driver though, talked incessantly all the way back to the house and normally, such inane chat would drive Jen up the fucking wall, but she's grateful for the time to think, where she doesn't have to work out what to say to avoid telling Judy everything she knows it isn't fair to tell her; the way she feels like she's been planning their whole fucking future when they're not even dating, they've not even kissed, when she's not even sure if Judy wants her.
She might be having her own coming out experience soon but she doesn't think Judy will be.
When they finally get in the house (thankfully the boys are with Lorna so her drunken clattering to get the key in the lock doesn't disturb anyone) they both roll into the kitchen and Jen opens more wine, maybe to drown her sorrows about the fact she's acting like a teenager with a fucking crush, maybe to forget about the fucked up life she's got where the man she wanted didn't want her and now he's dead and the woman she wants is straight and doesn't want her either.
"Fuck, what the fuck is wrong with me?"
Judy frowns from the other side of the kitchen island where she's grabbing glasses, "What?..What are you talking about?"
Jen leans up against the counter, closing her eyes. Don't cry, don't cry, don't fucking cry.
She can feel Judy sidle up next to her; her warmth, her hand rubbing her back soothingly, her perfume still lingering. The lights are dim in the kitchen but she can still see the shine in Judy's eyes when she turns to face her.
"I'm a widow with two kids, an anger problem, no money, no tits and I'm completely fucking messed up...." Jen sighs, "Who the fuck is going to want me?"
"What, no! Where's this coming from?" Judy sounds so surprised and Jen wonders exactly how Judy can't see everything that's wrong with her, the multiple shit parts of her that she wish she could obliterate.
Jen tilts her head back to look at the ceiling, "Tonight, all those young girls, god, I feel so fucking old...." She closes her eyes, tries to breathe, "Who would ever want me?"
"Hey, come on...." Judy pulls her chin down, forces her to look at her in the eyes, "Who wouldn't want you? Huh? You were the most beautiful woman in the room tonight...god, you're the most beautiful woman in every room."
Jen moves forward without thinking, her lips pressing against Judy's with an intensity that she can't control, except Judy doesn't respond, doesn't move and Jen is about to pull away, about to blame the alcohol for her fantastic attempt at ruining their friendship when Judy opens her mouth and moves her hand around Jen's neck to hold her in place so Jen kisses her back with everything she has. And it is fucking glorious. Judy's tongue meets hers and it's like she's in a fucking dream when Judy moans, when she feels Judy's hand tighten in her hair.
Eventually, (reluctantly) they part, Judy pressed up against the kitchen counter, foreheads resting against each other, their breath mingling together and Jen sees a smile curve onto Judy's lips.
"What?" Jen asks quietly, not wanting to disturb the moment.
"I've been waiting a long time for that," And Jen's breath hitches at the thought that she hadn't been alone in wanting her so fucking much, "A really really long time," Judy adds, and her lips are back on Jen's, kissing her with such ferocity, such pure need that Jen can't think about anything other than how Judy feels against her.
"Come to bed with me," She finally whispers to her, amid the quiet of the house; it takes so fucking much for her to say those words, to offer herself to someone that could so easily reject her, but she can't not say it, she can't (won't) deny what wants anymore.
"God, yes," Judy replies and suddenly it all comes together exactly how Jen hadn't dared to think about; it's Jen leading Judy by the hand to her bedroom, it's Judy underneath her (all warm skin and little moans and sighs that are Jen's undoing), it's finally slipping her hand under Judy's underwear, feeling how wet she is, how much she wants this too and it's Jen laying back, Judy sliding down her body with a wicked grin, mouth disappearing between her thighs.
They're finally here.