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From the Beginning

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Maya wakes up in the morning with an arm wrapped around her from behind and Carina pressed up against her back. She yawns and shifts her legs. She can feel Carina’s breath on her bare shoulder. It’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Maya always sleeps well with Carina around. She actually feels refreshed. It’s been a while since she felt this good when waking up.

Maya looks over her shoulder to get a look at the amazing Italian women who is spooning her in her sleep. Carina’s left hand lays loosely pressed against Maya’s chest. She wraps her hand around it and gives it a squeeze, holding it tighter against her chest. She feels okay like this. There isn’t any panic. There isn’t any freaking out. Maya stays like that for a little while with Carina still asleep behind her.

She starts to get antsy and bored just laying there. It’s not in Maya’s nature to just lay in bed in the morning. She gets up and gets going usually or she has something to distract herself in bed. She never just lays there. So she starts to play with Carina’s fingers, shifting her hand so their fingers lock together or stroking her thumb over each knuckle on each finger. Or tracing the lines in Carina’s palm.

“What are you doing?” Sleep very evident in Carina’s voice.

Maya flinches a little. She didn’t know Carina was awake. She drops Carina’s hand to the mattress. “Nothing.”

Carina giggles and then hums and presses herself up against Maya. She’s missed this feeling. “You can keep doing nothing if you want, but it woke me up. You must know.” She snuggles into Maya from behind.

“Sorry.” Maya tries to look over her shoulder at Carina.

“It’s okay. I very much enjoy waking up to you. We need to get up anyway if we are going to the gardens today.” That’s the activity that Carina wants to do. Go to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and then the Butchart Gardens. Walk around. Have a nice, peaceful, calm day in nature.

She rolls onto her back and yawns, stretching her arms above her head.

Maya couldn’t decide what shirt to wear to dinner when she was packing so she brought two with. A light blue button down and crisp white one. She pulls her slim fit khaki pants on and slips into a pair of rich brown loafers. “Carina?”

Carina sticks her head out of the bathroom. “Si.”

“Which one?” Maya holds her shirts up to display for Carina.

Carina pulls the towel from the top of her head, letting her hair cascade down her back. She looks Maya up and down, seeing what she’s already wearing. “White.”

Maya looks at the white shirt and then back at Carina. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Put it on.” Carina pops back into the bathroom to finish getting ready.

Maya looks back at the shirts in her hands again. “White it is.” Maya pulls the shirt up her arms. She starts buttoning it as she walks towards the bathroom. “What are you wearing?” She leaves the top three buttons unbuttoned and tucks the shirt into her pants. Maya looks up as she stands at the bathroom door. “Woah.” Her eyes rake up and down Carina’s form.

Carina giggles. “It’s like you’ve never seen me dressed up before. No?”

Maya shakes her head. “I just- you’re always so beautiful. In everything you wear. Or don’t wear.” The black tight pants and a skintight black midriff t-shirt that shows off a little sliver of Carina’s skin between her pants and shirt have Maya taking in every inch of her.

Carina raises an eyebrow at Maya in the mirror as she runs a bit of product through her hair, wearing it loose and wavy. She finishes and turns to Maya. “Thank you, bambina.” She presses a quick kiss to Maya’s cheek and slips past her. “Where are my shoes?” Carina looks around the room for them. “You look amazing, too, by the way. We’re a contrast.” Carina wearing dark clothes and Maya wearing light.

They go to dinner and come back to the room.

Maya goes out to sit on the balcony with a beer. The city lights mesmerizing her into a calm. Not that dinner wasn’t calm. Dinner was plenty lovely and plenty calm. It’s just that there were lots of other people in her restaurant and wait staff cruising around the room, a murmur of conversation in the air. This is quiet calm, the distant sound of traffic about the only thing that Maya hears.

Carina comes out, already changed out of her outfit. She stands behind Maya where she sits in the chair, putting a hand on her shoulder softly, trying not to startle her. “I’m going to bed. Are you going to be coming in soon?”

Maya tips her head back and looks up at Carina. “Yeah.” She shakes the beer bottle in her hand. “I’m just going to finish this.”

Carina nods. “Brush your teeth.”

To anyone else, it might sound like Carina is scolding a child or reminding them to do their normal nighttime routine but she’s not. She doesn’t like Maya’s beer breath. It’s something she’s mentioned before. It’s not the first time.

“Of course.” Maya smiles as she remembers when Carina refused to kiss her or sleep in the same bed as her until Maya had brushed her teeth after having some beer one evening as they watched a movie. So, she makes sure to brush her teeth after she has a beer now. It’s not a big deal.

Carina slips back into the hotel room. Maya tips the bottle to her lips, throwing her head back and downing the rest of it. She scrambles up from the chair, ducking into the room. She slips her shoes off near the door as she unbuttons her shirt. She had already pulled it from her pants as soon as they got back to the room.

She glances over at the bed as Maya gathers her pajamas and goes into the bathroom to change and brush her teeth.

Maya neatly folds her shirt and pants and sets them next to her suitcase. Carina is in bed but tonight she’s on her phone instead of reading her book. Maya comes over and gets into bed. “Whatcha looking at?”

Carina hums and tilts the phone so Maya can see. “The pictures of all the pretty flowers I took today.”

“There was one thing I saw today that was prettier than all the flowers.” Maya knows. She spent most of the day just watching Carina take everything in at the gardens.

Carina doesn’t remember Maya saying anything about anything other than the flowers. “What?”

“You.” She smirks.

“Maya.” Carina can’t believe how corny Maya is sometimes.

Maya scoots over so they are shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip. “The way you move about effortlessly, taking in all the beautiful that the gardens had to offer. The awe you had on your face at some of the vibrant color. Simply beautiful.”

Carina smiles softly. “You know, if you weren’t so adorable and I wasn’t so in love with you I would think what you just said was creepy. Did you even look at any of the flowers?”

Maya shrugs. “Some.”

“Here.” Carina has put all the photos from the day into an album on her phone. She starts back at the beginning and goes through the photos one by one, sharing them with Maya.

Maya lays her head on Carina’s shoulder after a while as they flip through the photos. There are a lot. “Did you have a good day? Did it live up to your expectations?”

“I don’t know.” She did and she didn’t. Maybe Carina’s expectations were too high. Maybe she thought she and Maya would have this fabulous day and everything would be magical. But it wasn’t. Not really. Not that there was anything wrong with the day. The day was good. A quality day. There just wasn’t anything special about it, Carina thinks.

“What?” Maya picks her head up and looks up to see Carina with a sly grin on her face, teasing Maya a little with her words.

“Yes, I had a good day. Did you have a good day?”

“It was very pleasant.” Maya lays her head back down. “Calm. No big hiccups. So, overall, a success.”

“I had a wonderful day with you, bella.” Carina presses her lips to Maya’s head, leaving them there for a few seconds. She always enjoys spending time with Maya no matter what they are doing.

Maya tucks her arm behind Carina. “It was pretty good.” She hugs her arms around Carina, locking her hands together on Carina’s opposite hip. “Are you ready for tomorrow?”

Carina puts the phone down. “How can I be ready for tomorrow when you won’t tell me what we’re doing.”

Maya smiles. “I don’t want to ruin it.”

“It’s not something crazy, is it?”

Maya shakes her head. “No.”

Carina settles further into Maya’s embrace. “I’m glad we did this.” Carina says quietly. “It was a good idea.” She feels like she needed this time away to unwind. To just relax and forget about everything for a while. Except for her and Maya. It doesn’t feel awkward or like there’s any added pressure like how it sometimes can be after a falling out and reconciliation. It just feels like them again and Carina absolutely loves that easy feeling. She knows that doesn’t make everything all better magically but it’s good to feel good again.

Maya yawns. It has been good. They’re learning how to be together again without the pressures of work or friends or any other distractions from home. It’s like a reset. “I do come up with a good idea every once in a while.” She yawns again.

“Are you tired?”

Maya just nods. “Can we go to sleep?” It’s pretty early yet. “I slept so well last night.” Maya pulls her arms back from around Carina. “The best I’ve slept in a long time.”

“Only if I get to cuddle you.” Carina smirks.

Maya pauses and looks at Carina for a moment. “Of course.” She scoots down to lay on her back and wait for Carina. It only takes a moment for Carina to lay down too. “How do you want me?”

Carina raises an eyebrow at Maya. “You know- nevermind.” She leaves the seductive nature of that question alone. “Vieni qua.” She opens her arms and Maya practically jumps into them.

Maya doesn’t know what’s changed but she needs Carina’s touch again. Something has shifted in the last two days. Maybe it’s just that they’ve spent honest time together and Maya is feeling comfortable again. More comfortable in her own skin. More confident that she can work through her issues and turn things around with Carina. She needs that feeling. She nuzzles herself into Carina’s chest as Carina wraps her in a tight embrace.

Carina needs it too. She sighs happily at being able to hold Maya again. “How do you feel?” She rubs a hand up and down Maya’s back slowly.

“Right now? Relaxed. A little nervous. But just a tiny bit. Happy.”

“What are you nervous about?” Carina asks.

Maya doesn’t say anything right away. “There’s just-“ It’s hard to put the feeling into words. “There’s this feeling, I don’t know what it is. Uncertainty, maybe.”



Carina cranes her neck to try to get a look at Maya’s face.

“I just- what if we can’t get back to where we were. What if I’ve ruined it permanently? We were good, right? We were happy, despite everything that was going on, right?” She just needs to ask. Just one more time. She needs to make sure that Carina is in this with her.

“Si. Yes.” Carina takes Maya’s hand in hers. She interlocks their fingers. “We were. I was. But I am again now so-“ Carina shrugs. She doesn’t see the use in comparing before to now. It just isn’t the same. They were good before, but Carina thinks they have the potential to be so much better now. “Try not to compare then and now. It’s different. Things have changed. And not in a bad way. I feel closer to you now. Not physically but emotionally. You’ve shared with me the worst, most difficult, most painful parts of your life, yourself. We, as humans, are shaped by our experiences. To hear about your experiences, I feel like I understand you better, Maya. I feel closer to you.”

“You’re fucking wonderful.” Maya doesn’t know if she can say the same thing. She doesn’t think she can say she feels closer to Carina or understands her better though. It’s just not true because Carina hasn’t shared anything about her life with Maya. A little bit about Andrew, but that’s not much, just that he was sick. Most of Carina’s past is still a mystery to Maya. Maybe that’s where the uncertainty comes in. In Carina’s lack of sharing.

But she does feel a bit of relief, like she doesn’t have a secret. Not that she saw her father’s abuse as a secret. A weight has been lifted. A sense of security has replaced it in the way Carina has just accepted her for all her flaws. So, in that sense Maya feels more grateful for Carina. Luckier, maybe. She feels like Carina could have anyone in the whole world and she keeps choosing Maya.

“If you say so.” Carina tries to deflect. She doesn’t feel like she’s that wonderful.

Maya lifts herself up onto her elbow so she’s hovering over Carina. “Fucking.” She kisses her. “Wonderful.” She kisses Carina hard, trying to convey her point through her lips. Maya pulls back and looks down into Carina’s eyes. “I love you.” She whispers and waits for Carina to say it too. Maya can’t get enough of those three words coming from the Italian. Whether she says it in English or Italian. Maya’s stomach flips every time she does.

“I love you, bella.” And she does. She loves Maya. She knows that for certain.

Maya sighs happily and resumes her positions on Carina’s chest, waiting for sleep to take her.