“Really, Kitty, again?”
Cat groans and counts down the seconds until she can tell her mother there’s been an emergency and hang up. “As I told you, Mother, the press should die down in a couple of weeks.”
“Were you even trying to make things work this time?”
“Yes,” Cat snaps. No, a small voice in the back of her head unhelpfully chimes in; no, she was not. Not after it became clear that Daniel, like Jeremy before him, still expected her to play the dutiful wife. He might have been more supportive of CatCo, but he’d still expected her to cook, to clean, to manage that thousand-item-long mental to do list that came with running the household. “Do you really think I wanted two ex-husbands trailing behind me at 35?”
“I have to go, Mother. I have a plane to catch.” She hangs up before Catharine can get in another jab. Remembering the handful of therapy appointments she had actually kept, Cat tries several of those “deep cleansing breaths” Dr. Walsh had recommended before deciding they don’t do nearly enough. She thinks she’d need some kind of Hoover to cleanse her body of her mother’s presence. Which is fine. She’d known this in advance. There was no reason to expect that someone might just be in her corner when she needed it.
With a glance at the clock, Cat slides on a pair of oversized sunglasses and grabs her suitcases, then heads for the elevator.
David is waiting outside for her, and Cat lets herself relax into the cool leather of the towncar’s seats as he drives across town to the airport. One day, she thinks to herself, one day she’ll make it big enough to have her own jet…
The resort is…fine. It’s quiet. Tucked away in some small beach town in Northern California that’s far enough away from National City that no one is chasing her down with an oversized camera flashing in her face. She checks in under the fake name she’d started using after her talk show launched her into something like minor stardom and lets herself be shown to her suite.
Only, left alone with her thoughts, Cat begins to wonder if getting away from National City had really been the best call. Sure, her publicist had recommended it, and it is nice to know she can go out without worrying about some unflattering photo of her showing up on the front page of every tabloid lining the grocery store checkout aisles. But work has always been there to keep her focused, keep her out of her own head when things get to be too much.
Showering and unpacking can only be made to take so long, so Cat forces herself to put on an outfit she won’t mind being seen in—just in case, the constant refrain ringing in her head—and heads down to the lobby.
It’s late enough to justify dinner, but the idea of eating alone in the resort’s own restaurant seems too pathetic to handle, so she forces herself to head outside. She can recall the glossy photos and travel brochures Alyssa had shown her while trying to sell her on some time away from the paparazzi, remembers something about a quaint little downtown just minutes from the beach and the resort. Watching the handful of couples and families walking together, it’s not hard to tell which direction it’s in, and Cat follows at a distance, checking her office voicemail as she walks. (There’s very little that’s new, and nothing she wants to deal with.)
Soon enough, she finds herself in the town. There are a few small stores with window displays that seem designed to attract the resort’s clientele, but still, Cat can understand why it’s marketed as charming. Nothing feels overdone or overwrought. It’s not like Anaheim or Vegas, where everything feels like it’s been designed for tourists, like the whole city is little more than a shiny veneer that would reveal a gaping void if you scratched hard enough to glimpse beneath the surface.
Cat looks up and finds a teenage boy with a mop of curly red hair holding out a tray of tiny cubes of fudge, each speared with a toothpick. “No. Thank you,” she adds for good measure.
“Ooh, can I have hers, then?”
Cat glances behind her and spots a rather attractive woman looking far too excited about the prospect of slightly melted chocolate fudge.
The boy gives her a goofy smile, his cheeks tinged a deep shade of pink. “Um, sure.”
“What flavors do you have for me today, Ben?”
There’s no reason for Cat to still be here, but her feet aren’t moving, and she can’t quite pull her gaze away.
“Chocolate marshmallow and vanilla pecan.”
“Ooh.” Cat suddenly finds striking blue eyes looking over at her. “You sure you wanna pass on this? I mean, okay, you don’t really strike me as a chocolate marshmallow type, but I swear the vanilla pecan is to die for.”
“I think I’ll live.”
The woman beams back at her and chuckles softly under her breath. “Then hit me with one of both, Ben.” She turns back to Cat once more, carefully holding the two toothpicks. “At least I’ll die happy.” With that, she pops the bite of chocolate marshmallow fudge into her mouth and lets out a positively indecent sigh of satisfaction. (Cat’s beginning to understand Ben’s rather obvious crush.) “The happiest,” she declares. “Promise me you’ll at least try something from Douglass’ before you leave town?”
Cat, who had turned to continue on, spins back on her heel. “How do you know I’m a tourist?”
The woman flashes her an easy grin, starting to walk in the direction Cat had been heading. “Trust me, I’d remember seeing you around town. And,” she adds, lowering her voice to a whisper, “I really loved your show.”
Cat purses her lips and pulls her apparently ineffective sunglasses off to glare—the expression, at least, she knows to be effective.
“Don’t worry, I’m not about to go home and find my camera just to sell some photo of you to the press.”
“Oh really? You have no ideas about tipping them off when you know how rabid they’ll be this week?”
The woman’s brow furrows. “What’s this week?”
“What? Do you live under a rock?”
She chuckles again. “I’ve been told sometimes when I get really into a project I can…disappear from the world. Nearly missed Y2K. Probably would have if the girl I was seeing hadn’t wanted someone to kiss at midnight. You know, if we didn’t all die or whatever.”
“I’m Kara, by the way. Realize it’s probably not fair that I know your name, but I’m just a big question mark to you.”
“Kara,” Cat says with a little nod of her head. It earns her a wide smile, and she blames the girlfriend comment for making her heart race just a little faster at the look. “I’ll let you enjoy your night…and the rest of your fudge.”
“Oh, right, yeah. I’m sure you’ve got plans. But”—she lifts her shoulders a little, stuffs her free hand in her pocket—“if you want a tour guide or anything, just say the word, okay?”
“Mm, yes, wouldn’t want to get lost in these…six blocks, is it?”
Kara holds her hands up. “Alright, alright, content yourself with missing out on all the hidden gems.”
With a shake of her head, hair bouncing with the movement, Cat turns and walks a few paces away. But as she walks, all she can think about is the dinner alone waiting for her. The reminder of another failed marriage. And behind her…well, behind her is a very attractive woman with absolutely no clue about Cat’s divorce or all the horrible things the press has been saying about her. She turns back around. “Let’s say I had a free evening…”
“Say no more!” Kara pops the second bite of fudge into her mouth and tosses the toothpicks into a nearby garbage can. “I am yours for the evening.” Cat arches an eyebrow at the phrasing, but Kara just grins at her. “Now, first things first: how hungry are you?”
They end up heading towards a diner located outside of the “downtown” blocks after a few too many unsubtle people had stared unabashedly at Cat in the Italian restaurant they’d tried first.
“Okay, so just…don’t judge it by the décor, yeah?”
“You know that’s the first thing I’m going to look for now, right?”
Kara laughs, loud and rich, and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Trust me, it was gonna be the first thing to catch your attention anyway.”
It’s enough to have Cat curious, though she doesn’t have to wait long before she spots the building—all bright red accents and black and white checkerboards with a vintage car or two parked out front just in case anyone missed the theme. Walking inside is like walking into the set of Grease, the décor loud enough to give her a headache, and Cat can’t help the snort of laughter.
“Shh,” Kara laughs. “I swear, it might be a little…gimmicky, but they make the best milkshake in town.”
“I imagine there has to be some draw to keep the T-Birds coming back every week.”
It earns Cat a light nudge as Kara shakes her head. “Be nice.”
“Lucky for you that’s what I’m known for,” Cat deadpans.
“Kara!” A gray-haired woman—DJ, according to the nametag—comes out from behind the counter and throws an arm around Kara. “Who do we have here?” She throws Cat a big enough wink that Cat knows the question is just for show.
“She’s in from out of town, and I thought she could use somewhere a little more…casual to eat.”
“Let me just hide our Michelin Star while you two make yourselves at home.”
Kara leads Cat over to a booth and does Cat the courtesy of not paying attention as she attempts to look anything but awkward while clambering into her seat, the vinyl sticking to her skin. Once Cat’s settled, Kara begins running her through the menu, pointing out the “classics” and the “hidden gems” as she goes.
It isn’t long before DJ is back, notepad in hand. “What can I get you two to drink?”
“Coffee, please,” Cat orders.
“And a chocolate milkshake for me.” Kara glances over at Cat and adds, “Don’t worry, you can have some if you decide to branch out beyond black coffee and eggs.”
Cat rolls her eyes.
“Do you know what you want to eat yet, or do you want some more time with the menu?”
Cat orders eggs with whole wheat toast, ignoring Kara’s muttered, “boring,” before handing the menu back to DJ.
“And I’ll have—”
“Your usual?” DJ cuts in. “Or are you about to surprise me for the first time in a decade?”
“A usual?” Cat arches an eyebrow. “I didn’t realize you were such a regular.”
“Ah, yeah, well…”
“Don’t undersell yourself,” DJ says, clapping Kara on the shoulder. Kara’s cheeks are flushed a deep shade of pink, and it’s unfair how attractive it is. “Kara’s practically family. She designed this place back in the day.”
“Oh!” Cat digs her nails into her thighs to keep from laughing aloud, at least while DJ is still standing right there. “I didn’t realize you were an…interior decorator.”
“Architect,” Kara mumbles.
“Decorating was all me and Phil.” DJ’s smile turns softer then.
“How’s he doing?” Kara asks.
“Oh, you know how he is. Overdoes it and throws out his back again, then complains the whole time he’s supposed to be resting.”
Kara nods in understanding. “I’ll try to drop by this week.”
“Good kid,” DJ tells Cat as she inclines her head in Kara’s direction. “You could do worse. You have, too, I guess.” She pauses, bites her lower lip. “Sorry, maybe it’s a little soon for that.”
Cat grimaces, but she waves off the apology. “It’s fine. You’re not…entirely wrong.”
As soon as DJ is gone, Kara looks at her with those big blue eyes, the unasked question lingering in the air between them.
“Divorce,” Cat says finally. “My second.”
“Oh, that’s why you thought I’d…” Kara nods slowly. “Well, he’s gotta be stupid to let someone as great as you go.”
Cat snorts. “Not what the tabloids are saying. Apparently he was just lucky to get away while he still could. And now he’s got some young thing on his arm, and they’re all pretending like it’s some great new romance instead of the tawdry affair he thought he could hide for the last few months.” She glances down to find the paper sleeve from her straw shredded in front of her and carefully pushes the pieces into a small pile. She takes a deep breath, tries to ease the frown lines she can feel etching their way into her forehead. The last thing she needs is some close-up of her face and whatever fine lines they think they see to get printed in vivid color.
“Well, I know I don’t know you that well—not yet at least,” she adds with one of those charming smiles that have Cat all but forgetting about Daniel and that girl on his arm, “but I’d still put money on betting that between you and that guy, I’d pick you every time.”
Unwilling to dwell on the fact that the first person to really take her side in all of this is some stranger she’s known for an hour, Cat taps one of her feet against Kara’s ankle. “Now tell me, do you only design novelty diners, or do you have a wider market? Rainforest Cafés, too?”
Kara purses her lips. “DJ’s an old friend of my foster mother. And she’d finally saved up enough to redo this place.” She shrugs. “Who was I to give her anything less than what she wanted?”
It’s earnest in a way Cat’s not used to, and it nearly has her nodding along with the sentiment. Nearly.
“But mostly I work on houses these days. I spent some time in Metropolis working on older houses and building new structures in their historic neighborhoods.”
“Don’t tell me you’re helping put up those monstrosities that stand out like sore thumbs for people with too much money and no taste.”
Kara holds her hands up and laughs. “The very opposite, I promise.”
Cat inclines her head slightly. “What brought you out to California?”
“Oh, I, um, I’m working with this couple a few towns north of here. Some scientists out in Midvale.”
“Helping build them a top-secret basement lab?”
Kara’s laugh sounds half-hysterical, and Cat narrows her eyes. Kara just waves it off. “Sorry, um, no, just regular…regular house stuff. For a regular old couple.”
Another server arrives then with their food, and Cat lets it drop for the time being.
As they eat, Cat feels some of the stress of the past few weeks falling away from her. Kara is easy to talk to, and she’s just as happy to listen as she is to talk—something that Cat’s found to be all too rare in certain circles. The fact that Kara spends half the time complimenting Cat and glancing down at her lips doesn’t hurt either. Not that Cat’s looking for a new relationship—though, god, she would pay good money to see the look on Daniel’s face if she showed up on the cover of some tabloid next week with a new woman of her own—but there’s something to be said for feeling wanted after the last year of a marriage where anything resembling desire had long since fled.
Kara insists on paying, and when they leave, she holds the door open for Cat, and Cat might be forgiven for thinking, just for a moment, that they really had slipped back into the 50s.
“Do you want to walk around at all? Things should be quieter now, and I can show you some places worth checking out while you’re in town.”
The “no” is already there on the tip of Cat’s tongue, but she makes the mistake of glancing up at Kara. Kara, who is smiling at her so, so earnestly, as if there is nothing she would rather do than spend the rest of her night with Cat. Kara, whose blonde hair is catching slightly in the breeze and making her look like some kind of movie star. “I suppose…”
So Kara leads Cat into town, and every building seems to have a story. There’s a used bookstore with a cat named Montgomery that likes to nap in the nonfiction section. There’s the “tourist coffee shop” with its shining chrome accents and professional-looking menu, and the one for the locals with mismatched silverware and a chalkboard menu that changes with the days but is, Kara promises, always full of good options. An antique store. A grocery store. A quaint bistro with limited hours. A crowded little bar. A playground and a running trail.
Somewhere around the park, Kara notices Cat rubbing at her arms, and she doesn’t even hesitate before offering her shirt. “I’ve got a tank top on underneath, and I run warm, really.”
“It’s fine,” Cat insists, but the sea breeze blows in then, leaving goosebumps prickling all across her skin.
Kara waves off her protests and undoes the buttons to her shirt. And suddenly Cat is without words. Because Kara had been pretty—gorgeous, even—before, there was no question about it. But apparently that baby blue button up had been hiding arms strong enough to have Cat wondering if Kara does the construction as well as the design on those houses. Her breath catches in her throat as Kara reaches over and drapes her shirt across Cat’s shoulders. It’s warm, but that has nothing to do with the way Cat’s whole body seems to thrum with heat.
When she licks her lips, Kara’s eyes linger on the movement.
Kara’s hands are still holding the shirt, and they’re close—so close.
“I don’t want to be forward if you’re just—”
Cat cuts her off with a kiss.
Kara’s lips are soft, and her whole body seems to radiate warmth that draws Cat in closer and closer until her chest is pressed up against Kara’s. The park is empty, but there are still enough people milling about town that Cat forces herself to pull back when Kara’s tongue sweeps across her lower lip.
“Wow,” Kara breathes, and Cat allows herself a smug little smile.
“You know what I haven’t gotten to see yet?”
Kara blinks a few times before shaking herself out of it. “Um, the elementary school is a bit of a walk, but—”
“Your work, Kara. You said you’ve done some of the houses here, right?”
“Oh! Oh, yeah, um, if you don’t mind walking into the neighborhood?”
Cat nods, and Kara presses a strong hand to Cat’s lower back as she guides her in the right direction, walking them further and further away from the last of the tourists. They don’t have to walk long before they come to the first house, and Cat watches with a smile as Kara talks about the process, the family that lives there, the vision she’d helped them turn into reality.
“A shame we can’t see the inside of any of them…” Cat trails off.
“Yeah…” Kara twists her fingers. “I mean, I did, um, design my own house?” There’s a question there, and Kara glances over at Cat as the words land.
Cat, who remembered this detail mentioned offhand over dinner, flutters her eyelashes and lets her fingertips dance along the exposed muscle of Kara’s arm. “Then why don’t you invite me over?”
The house really is beautiful. All big windows and natural light and hardwood floors. There are paintings and photographs hung in nearly every room with enough thematic similarities that Cat’s fairly certain they’re by the same artist, and she has a decent guess about who that is. And really, it’s all very interesting and impressive. But it’s not why she’s here. And they both know it.
Though, Cat is willing to acknowledge, it’s a very nice wall she’s currently being pressed against. But then Kara’s teeth are teasing at the sensitive skin of her neck, and Cat decides she’ll save her appreciation of the house for later.
“Fuck,” Cat gasps, grinding herself against the strong thigh pushing between her legs. Then Kara’s fingers are there, moving deftly against her, until Cat is gasping her release into Kara’s shoulder.
Strong arms wrap around her, holding her up when her legs still feel shaky.
“My room is, uh, right down the hall. If you want…?”
Cat nods, takes Kara’s hand in her own and drags in her what she hopes is the right direction until Kara takes over and steers them through a doorway.
If pressed, Cat doesn’t think she’d be able to say a single thing about the design of a room later on. She only has eyes for Kara as she rids Cat of the rest of her clothes, then strips off her own much less carefully. She’s all hard muscle and soft skin, and Cat thinks she might be able to write paragraphs about the subtle flex of her arms as she crawls up onto the bed, the way her abs clench when Cat teases at her entrance, the play of light and shadow that dance across the planes of her back and shoulder as she settles herself between Cat’s legs and makes her believe she finally knows what it means to be worshipped.
Cat hadn’t meant to stay the night. And she certainly hadn’t expected to sleep. But apparently weeks of stress and almost no sleep combined with a dozen or so orgasms between them was enough to have her nodding off on Kara’s chest, one arm wrapped around her. She dreams of waking to Kara slipping off, then being wrapped in her arms once more, and then everything is a quiet, dreamless sleep.
The next morning, she wakes feeling rested and deliciously sore, but when she turns over, she meets nothing but pillows.
Blinking, Cat sits up and looks around. Kara’s side of the bed is cool. She frowns. She’s not quite so jaded as she likes to pretend she is, but she’s no romantic either. She has no delusions about this turning into some grand love affair. It was just this. A fun evening spent enjoying the company of another gorgeous woman. Still, Kara had seemed the type to cuddle, to want to draw out the morning with coffee and kisses and maybe another hour or two spent between Cat’s legs.
A noise in the hallway has Cat pulling the sheets up to cover her chest, but it’s just Kara, tragically fully clothed, but clutching two mugs of coffee. “You’re up!” She beams at Cat, like there is nothing in the world that could delight her more.
“I am.” Cat’s voice is scratchy, and she clears her throat. “Early morning?”
“Oh, I, um, had to call my—my cousin.”
Cat’s lips purse, and she tries not to show her hurt at the obvious lie. “You can have a life outside of me, it’s fine,” she snaps, looking around for wherever the hell her clothes had gone.
“Sorry, I really did have to call Clark. It’s just cousin…it’s never really felt like the right word.”
Cat’s brow furrows, but there’s something in Kara’s voice that tells Cat there’s a story. “Oh?”
“We, um, we’ve lived together since he was a baby. Our parents…they died when I was a kid, and I’ve always felt really responsible for him.”
“Oh, Kara, I’m—I’m sorry.” She recalls something about a foster mother from the night before.
“It’s…well, it’s not okay, but it’s been a long time now, ya know? But Clark…he’s my everything. And he’s an adult now with a real job, and even though it’s been a couple years I’m still not used to not seeing him every day. Obviously it’s good, you know? Kids are supposed to grow up. And it gave me the kick in the butt I needed to finally head out here, but still.” She shrugs. “Sorry, that’s a lot to dump on you.”
Cat shakes her head. “It’s fine. I—I understand more than you’d think.”
Cat isn’t willing to get into the whole thing—not with someone who, no matter how kind her eyes are or how safe Cat had felt with her, is still practically a stranger. She pats the bed beside her, and Kara climbs in, hands over a mug of coffee.
“He’s over in Metropolis with a new promotion, and I try to catch him at the start of his lunch break to say hi.”
Cat hums. “Time differences are hard. Hell, distance is hard.”
“Yeah…” She chuckles, and if it sounds a little watery, neither of them points it out. “I moved to Metropolis when he got into college there just to make sure he was okay.” Cat’s eyebrows shoot up, and Kara shrugs. “A firm out there had been trying to recruit me for years, but I didn’t want to leave Clark while he was still in high school.”
“Ah.” She wonders what it’s like to have family that close. She’d loved her father—loved him deeply—but after his death she felt like she was reeling, more profoundly alone in her grief than ever.
Kara nudges Cat, a clear attempt at lightening the mood in her easy smile as she relaxes back against the headboard. “He’s actually working in journalism, over at the Daily Planet.”
Cat tuts. “Well, if he ever wants to work at the superior paper, you tell him to give me a call when he’s built himself a proper resume.”
It earns her a big grin. “Will do. Though from what I hear, there might be some girl that’ll keep him in Metropolis forever.”
“They’ll do that to you sometimes.”
They sink into a comfortable silence as they drink their coffee, and Cat feels like she’s waited an appropriate amount of time before asking if Kara wouldn’t mind turning on the news. She’ll check in at a computer in the resort’s work center later, but she really should find out if there’s been any breaking news overnight.
Of course they have to sit through updates on the weather and traffic first, but then they’re showing coverage of Superwoman putting out an apartment fire out in San Francisco, and Cat swears she can practically smell the ash as they zoom in on the hero.
“Did you know I met her once?” Cat asks.
“Oh?” There’s something to Kara’s tone that Cat can’t quite parse, but she nods her head against Kara’s shoulder.
“Mm, back in Metropolis before they’d named her, back when she was still flying around with that ridiculous mask.” She grins. “I was the one who told her to get rid of it.”
“Yep,” she says, popping the p. “No one trusts a hero they can’t see.”
“I remember your, uh, less-than-glowing editorial to that effect,” Kara says with a shake of her head. “Though it seems like people trust her now.”
“God, what I wouldn’t do for the first ever exclusive with her…”
“I’m sure she has her reasons for wanting privacy.”
There’s a long pause before Kara clears her throat. “Did you know they say she remembers every person she’s ever saved?”
“Ridiculous,” Cat scoffs. “There are thousands of them. No way she remembers them all.”
Kara shrugs. “Maybe they all mean something to her.”
“Wishful thinking, I’d say. Was it exciting to be saved by Superwoman? Of course. She’s gorgeous and good and everything we want to think we’re all capable of being. But I’m not going to delude myself into thinking she’s ever given me a second thought, let alone that she’d recognize me today.”
Kara lets out a loud laugh. She flashes Cat a goofy smile and kisses her bare shoulder. “I don’t know, Cat. You’re pretty memorable.”
It’s a line. It’s so obviously a line. But Cat’s only human, and she’s in bed with another gorgeous blonde who definitely remembers who she is, and, well, she decides it’s okay to miss the rest of the morning news.
Cat really intends for her night with Kara to be a one-time indulgence. A very enjoyable evening that they could both look back on fondly. But, well, they just keep finding their way back into one another’s orbits.
First it’s running into each other in the non-touristy coffee shop on Sunday morning—“An excellent choice,” Kara had whispered from behind in her in line—that turns into a walk through the park that somehow leads them right back to Kara’s house. (This time she lets herself be patient enough to get the full tour, and she has to bite her tongue to keep herself from inviting Kara to come back to National City with her to redesign the beach house.)
Then on Monday night Kara finds Cat at a restaurant, eating alone with only her phone and her overflowing office voicemail to keep her company. Like some kind of white knight swooping in, Kara shows up just as an overly brave tourist is sidling up to her to do something he’ll surely regret, and Kara waves him off as she slips into the chair across from Cat like she was always meant to be there. Too grateful to find the words, Cat drags Kara back to the resort after dinner and keeps her in the king-sized bed until she can barely stand. Cat thinks it probably sufficed as a thank you.
On Tuesday, Cat wakes to find that Daniel did an interview. Blamed Cat for his infidelity. Made her out to be cruel and vindictive and petty everything she knew she could be but had never wanted to be defined as. She spends the day barking orders into her phone and hashing out a PR strategy with Alyssa and her team. Early that afternoon she orders room service, realizing she hasn’t eaten since the night before, but she lets her salad grow warm and wilt during a long call with her lawyer. Without Cat’s ever needing to ask, Kara shows up at 7 in a tailored navy suit with a pizza in hand, and Cat decides she’s done pretending this is a one-time thing. She has less than two full days left, and dammit, she’s going to soak up as much time as she can with Kara before she leaves.
Still, a day and a half can only last so long, and Cat finds herself back in the boarding area for her flight back to National City before she knows it.
She has enough to do that she doesn’t give in to the temptation to postpone her flight by another day, but she feels the ache of loss with every step taking her further away from Kara. And there’s no reason why she should be so attached—not after a scant few days. But somehow Kara got under her skin, found a way through Cat’s defenses even when her walls were up higher than ever. It was that damn disarming smile. And the charm. The look she gave Cat, like she was really listening. The questions she asked—never the ones Cat expected, but thoughtful, considerate to the last. Cat shakes her head. There are plenty of things to deal with at CatCo after a weeklong absence; the last thing she needs is another distraction.
Nearly three months later, Cat gets home from work to a voicemail. “Hey Cat, it’s Kara! I’m flying down to National City tomorrow morning. I’ll be in town for a couple of days and wanted to see if you might like to get dinner? Totally understand if, you know, you want things to just be…in the past. But I, uh, anyway, just let me know?”
Cat calls her back right away. The lighthouse technique may have sold her a shit ton of books in the 90s, but she knows better than to think waiting will bring Kara to her door.
“Kara, it’s me, Cat.”
Cat can practically picture her smile, and she sinks down into her sofa. “I got your voicemail.”
“Oh, yeah. It’s no pressure, but I thought it would be good to see you again.”
“What’s your schedule like?”
“I’ll be in meetings all day tomorrow, then I have a dinner. But I should be free after, and I think I’m done by 2 on Wednesday. I could push my flight back if that’s better.”
“Why don’t you plan on coming over after you finish dinner tomorrow? We can talk about trying for plans on Wednesday night then.”
“Okay, yeah. Yeah, that sounds good.” A beat. “I’m really looking forward to seeing you again, Cat.”
“You too, Kara.”
Cat hangs up then and tidies the apartment and spends all of Tuesday pretending like she isn’t counting down the hours until Kara is set to come over.
That night, Kara shows up at Cat’s door with flowers and a box of pastries from a bakery a few blocks from CatCo, and suddenly it’s like no time at all has passed.
They’re kissing before the door has even clicked shut behind Kara, and Cat’s outfit winds up on the floor in less time than it had taken for her to choose it.
Cat has Kara on her back in the bed in a matter of minutes, and it’s not long before Kara has drawn Cat up the length of her body to straddle her face. And then Cat stops noticing anything that isn’t the feeling of Kara’s mouth on her.
“I promise, this wasn’t the only reason I wanted to see you,” Kara says between kisses to Cat’s bare shoulder.
Cat leans over and kisses the taste of herself off Kara’s lips. “I believe you.” Hell, there are pastries…somewhere, and a box of wine Cat had left open to breathe on the counter that attest to their best intentions.
Apparently thinking the same thing, Kara throws her legs over the edge of the bed before pausing. “You okay with pastries in bed?”
Cat most certainly is not. She just knows her sheets will end up filled with those buttery, flaky crumbs that will prickle against her legs and keep her from getting any sleep until she changes them. But Kara is stark naked and offering to bring her expensive French pastries in bed after giving Cat the best orgasms she’s had in three months, and Cat can’t find it within herself to say no.
Over dessert, Cat finally gets around to asking Kara about what exactly brought her down to National City—a job interview that had, apparently, gone well enough to land her a generous offer. Kara isn’t sure yet if she’s going to take it; she insists she likes certain things about being self-employed, and Cat feels like there’s something important she’s not being told here, but apparently the firm had promised Kara plenty of independence and flexibility. She talks through the pros and cons, and they both dance around the one thing neither of them are willing to bring up.
“What do you think about the idea of moving to National City?” Cat finally asks, a first venture into something like an acknowledgment of what other possibilities this new job might open.
“Well, I’ve never spent much time here.” She glances up at Cat. “I’d probably need a really good tour guide.”
“I suppose I could manage that. Though it’s quite a lot bigger here. We’d need several weeks, maybe even months to see it all.”
Kara’s lips quirk up into a small smile. “I think I could clear my schedule. I hear I’ve got flexible hours these days.” That brings Cat’s mood crashing back down, and Kara notices instantly—of course she does. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“You should know that I don’t. CatCo is…soaring, and it’s exciting and wonderful and a metric fuck-ton of work.”
“You say that now, but—”
“Cat, I’m not Daniel. Or anyone else who’s said that to you. When I get a new project, I will disappear into it and forget to do anything but eat. And there are parts of my life…well, there are things that sometimes intrude on my life, you know? And I don’t want a partner who doesn’t understand that.”
Cat bites her lip, tries to swallow this bubble of hope that’s welling up inside of her. “So are we…are we trying this?”
Kara’s eyes seem to sparkle with possibility. “I hope so. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since I dropped you off at the airport.”
Cat leans forward, answers her with a kiss.