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we ache in such bloody ways

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Bonnie winced as the peroxide hit the cut on her shin and bubbled up.

“It doesn't actually hurt, you know,” Annalise murmured. She took a gauze pad and dabbed at the wound. “This is nothing compared to how much it would hurt if I was using vodka.”

“There's no vodka and we’re civilized people.”

“You're right about one of those things.” Annalise finished blotting the cut. She looked up into Bonnie’s face. “Tell me why.”

“I just broke a glass. A piece bounced up and did that.”

“You must have thrown it with a lot of force to make that happen.” Annalise gently traced a line just below the wound with her index finger. “You’ll tell me if it gets bad again?”

“It hasn’t.”

They sat in silence on the cool bathroom tile as Annalise applied a thin layer of antibiotic ointment and a bandage.

“I let the glass drop. I thought if it shattered and it happened to… “ Bonnie quiet words trailed off. “It wouldn’t be me that did it.”

“You found a loophole,” Annalise said, a mix of pride and sadness in her voice. “Part of me wants you to show me, so I can be sure, but I won’t ask you to because I trust you.”

Bonnie nodded. After a few moments of consideration, she grasped the hem of her skirt and pulled it up, exposing her legs. Annalise placed a hand on Bonnie’s knee before slowly running up it up her thigh, feeling the changes in texture between the thin, white scars and the unmarred skin. Her fingertips traced one line, then another, then detoured to a round depression about the size of a nickel on Bonnie’s hip, just below the lacy edge of her underwear.

“How did Asher think you got all these?” Annalise asked. She put the peroxide and bandages away, then retrieved a cherry-scented lotion from a nearby cabinet. She sat back down on the floor opposite Bonnie, eyebrows raised in a question as she held up the bottle.

“He didn’t notice them,” Bonnie replied. “And yes. I’d really like that.”

Annalise warmed a dollop of lotion between her palms before gently gliding her hands across Bonnie’s thighs, one, then the other. She let her touch grow firmer as she felt Bonnie relaxing into it.

“What would you have said? If he’d asked about them.”

“I don’t know. No one’s noticed for a very long time. They’re light.”

“Who was the last person? Me?”

“Frank.”

Annalise stiffened, hurt, jealous, but at the same time she gloried in knowing that Bonnie felt she could be honest. There were still so many walls between them that weren’t there before, and to see even a small one coming down gave her hope.

“What did he say?”

“He told me he was sorry I got so fucked over in the life-lotto.”

“Eloquent man, that Frank,” Annalise muttered, even though the name alone was enough to sear her tongue. “Did he do this for you too?”

“No.” Bonnie put one hand over Annalise’s, holding it still against her skin. With the other hand, she caressed the side of Annalise’s face.

“I’m not going to be angry at you for doing something with Frank that people do every day on a public beach.”

“You’re the only one I trust to do this, Annalise.” Bonnie squeezed Annalise’s hand, then let go so she could finish the task.

Once all the lotion had been absorbed, Annalise slowly pulled Bonnie’s skirt down to cover her thighs, smoothing it with the flat of her hand. When she looked up, Bonnie seemed more relaxed than she’d seen her in weeks, even if her eyes were still sad.

Bonnie leaned forward and her fingers found Annalise’s cheek again, then she gently brought their lips together. The kiss stayed quiet, searching, self-contained until Bonnie pulled away.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“Always,” Annalise replied. She stroked Bonnie’s hair and pressed her lips to her forehead and then her cheek. She kissed the corner of Bonnie’s mouth, leaving a tiny smudge of plum lipstick there. She smiled, admired it for a moment, then wiped it off with her thumb.

“I guess we should go back downstairs,” Bonnie said.

“We should. Do you need a minute alone?”

“I’m good,” Bonnie said, getting to her feet. Annalise caught her hand as she turned toward the door.

“You’ll tell me if it gets bad again,” she repeated softly.

“I’ll tell you if it gets bad again. I promise.”