Bernie Wolfe ended the call and gave a small shake of her head before moving toward the kitchen. “Well, that was weird.”
“What’s that, love?” Serena Campbell did not look up from her supper preparations, her focus on the task at hand.
Bernie leaned against the counter next to her partner, arms crossed. She watched Serena as she lifted the measuring cup to eye level and poured the liquid to overflowing.
“Damn,” came softly from Serena as she looked down at the spill.
A small chuckle from Bernie. A playful shoulder nudge. “You want my glasses?”
Serena’s arched brow made Bernie snort. She raised her hands in a slight surrender. “So stubborn.”
“Ah. Then cut from the same cloth we are.” She leaned over and pecked Bernie’s nose. “Hand me that towel, please.”
“You’re going to have to give in eventually,” she chided. “Vascular surgeon and all that.”
Serena sopped up the mess and handed the damp towel to her partner. “Toss that in the laundry, would you?” Bernie did as she was asked whilst Serena continued on a bit louder. “You know I can’t wear glasses when I’m in surgery. They fog up. Slip down. Fall in the occasional chest cavity. I’m far-sighted anyway. It’s the loupes or nothing.”
Bernie returned as Serena paused her defense to put their supper in the oven. She set the timer and turned to Bernie, wrapping her arms around her. “Besides, I thought you liked my Magoo look.” She leaned in and kissed her playfully.
Bernie pulled her closer, snuggled into her neck. Sweetly, “That’s when I knew I loved you.”
They stood there a moment before they both started laughing. Serena pulled back. “You’re an arse.”
“Then get some readers, Campbell.”
Bernie moved to the cupboard and brought down two wine glasses as Serena uncorked a bottle. “Shiraz okay?” Though not her preferred libation, Bernie nodded.
Serena poured both glasses half full of her favored tipple. They stood a moment, enjoying the first taste. “Hmmm. That’s good.” She leaned in and kissed Bernie softly.
“It is good.” Bernie’s response covering more than the shiraz. “How long ‘til supper?”
Serena checked her watch. “About 20 to go. You hungry?”
She shook her head. “No. Um, I mean, yes. Yes, I am. But, um…”
Serena tilted her head. She could feel a slight shift in Bernie’s energy. A slight nervousness that had not been present before.
“Can we have a sit in the other room?” Bernie asked as she motioned with her head.
Serena took her hand and led her through to the lounge. She nuzzled into the corner of the couch, legs folded under her. Bernie stood for a moment before Serena patted the space next to her.
Bernie sat, feet flat on the floor and took a long gulp of her shiraz before placing it on the table. She turned to look at Serena waiting patiently. She felt herself warm as a smile came to her face. She turned her body, mirroring Serena’s position on the couch, her arm bent to prop up her head.
“I love you,” Bernie offered quietly.
Serena tugged gently on the hand on Bernie’s lap, requesting she move closer. She did.
“And I love you.” Serena leaned in for a soft, lingering kiss. She rested her forehead against Bernie’s. “But you’re making me nervous here.” She pulled back an inch, maybe two. “What’s going on?”
Bernie took a breath. “That call earlier, when you were working on supper. It was Charlotte.”
Serena sat back, a look of concern appearing. “Charlotte? Is she okay?”
“Oh, yes. Yes. No, she’s fine. She just wanted, well…” Bernie paused her thought for a different angle. “You know, we’ve not talked about our kids meeting each other. I mean, is it something you and I need to talk about? Is it too soon?”
“Well, I know Cameron,” Serena offered. “He’s a good man. A little cocky, mind. Takes after his mum.”
“Oi! I’m just confident in my abilities,” Bernie insisted.
“Indeed,” Serena teased.
Bernie continued her original thought. “It’s the first time she’s called since Marcus told her about, well, about all of it.” She took a deep shuddering breath. “Six months. It’s been six months since she’s spoke to me.” Her tone was tinged in disbelief.
Serena squeezed her knee. “Maybe she just needed time to process. Divorce is a lot to take in for a teenager. Trust me. I have been there, you know. And the circumstances were a bit—.”
“A bit much? That’s an understatement.” Bernie closed her eyes, shook her head. The oven timer chimed before their conversation went any further.
Serena rose at the tone. “That’s supper then.” She headed towards the kitchen, called back to Bernie. “Top off the shiraz?”
They moved about the kitchen much as they moved in theatre, anticipating where they needed to shift and which utensils were needed by the other. They had left the conversation in the lounge as they had their meal. Both were quite content discussing the more mundane as they ate.
They laughed about Raf’s latest attempt at love and the Fletchlings’ adventures. They steered away from the current political situation as neither wanted to envision a post-Brexit NHS. Mostly, they took delight in each other’s musings.
Bernie was the first to throw in the proverbial towel. “Serena, that was delicious. Compliments to the cook.”
Serena nodded her head in appreciation. “My pleasure.” She stood, picked up her plate and went for Bernie’s.
“No, no. Let me clear. It’s the least I can do.” Bernie moved to the sink with both dishes. “Open another bottle and I’ll meet you on sofa in 10.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” She reached around Bernie for the shiraz, dragging her hand across her back as she did. Added a little hip check before she sashayed her way through the door.
Bernie still flushed at the overt flirtations from her partner. Always would do she supposed. And she was quite fine with that.
“Is that mine?” Bernie picked up the glass as she sat snuggly next to Serena, legs resting on legs.
“The music okay?” Serena asked.
Bernie murmured as she took a deep drink. “Mmm.” They both leaned in for a long kiss. Then another.
Serena used her free hand to tangle with the fringe that often covered Bernie’s eyes.
“So, Charlotte?” Serena prompted. “What did she say? Are you going to see her?”
Bernie scrunched her eyes as she smiled softly. “She said she wants me to be a part of her life.”
Serena’s eyes brightened. “Bernie, that is great.” Bernie ducked her head shyly. Serena used her finger to lift her chin. “Really great.”
Bernie took a sip of her wine. A beat. “Actually she wants to meet you. And Elinor.” Her eyes met Serena's.
Serena tilted her head in askance. “How does she know-?”
“Ah. Well, apparently Cam has been mending fences for me.” Bernie’s smile grew. “And you appear to have made quite an impression on him. Thank you for that.”
“He has his moments, that one.” They sat quietly for bit, sipping their wine, listening to the soft music, enjoying their shared space, soft touches here and there.
“So Christmas Morning it is,” Serena proclaimed breaking the stillness. She was quite pleased with herself as she gazed at Bernie. The look of confusion from Bernie threw her. “What?”
“What are you on about, Campbell?”
Serena elaborated. “We rip the plaster off. Your kids. My kid. Jason. I’ll make brunch. You’ll wear a festive jumper. Jason will make everyone watch Doctor Who. We pray the girls get along. Job done.”
Bernie looked at her in disbelief. "You're daft.“
"What?" Serena innocently replied.
Bernie shook her head. "Are you sure about this? I mean, it’s a lot to ask.”
Serena leaned into the sofa, her head resting on the back, eyes closed. “You didn’t ask. I offered.”
Bernie thought for moment, maybe two. “Alright then. I’m in.” She leaned back, mirroring Serena. A beat. “And why am I wearing the festive jumper?”
Serena did not open her eyes as she patted Bernie’s thigh. “Someone has to. And I’ve seen the ones in your closet.” She peeped a side eye at Bernie and chuckled.
“I love you,” was all Bernie could offer.
“I know.” Serena yawned then stretched. “You staying?”
Bernie swirled the remnants of shiraz in her glass. “Mmm. Do you mind?”
Serena, her head still resting on the back of the sofa, turned to meet Bernie’s gaze. “Prefer it if I’m honest.” She smiled at her partner. “Jason’s not back until tomorrow evening. We could have a lie in.” She waggled her brows.
“Be still my heart.” Bernie grinned widely as she stood holding her hand out to Serena. She allowed Serena to lead her up the stairs.
“Yes, I think getting our kids together is a good thing. What’s the worst that could happen?”