Tina closed the newspaper, took off her glasses and placed both items on the coffee table. Shed been awake for quite some time and had already made a trip to the neighborhood 24-hour store. She had bought eggs and bacon so she could make breakfast when Sam got up. Shed also purchased the all-important paper, which had a detailed analysis of the Seminole/Gator game to be played that evening. Walking over to the front window, she stood for several minutes, looking out at the college flag flapping in the breeze.
Smiling, she went into the bedroom to check on her partner. Lying down next to the sleeping woman, she rested there until the blonde started to stir. Tina propped herself up on one elbow, watching with interest as Sam slowly wakened, making several soft sounds before pale lashes fluttered and she opened her eyes. Hi.
Mmmm. Sam snuggled against Tina. Im glad youre here.
Tina rolled onto her back, pulling Sam with her. They lay quietly, their breathing matched in a slow, steady rhythm until a commotion outside disturbed them.
Whats that? Sam raised her head and listened. Its Mike somethings wrong! She jumped out of bed and headed for the door. Cmon!
Tina followed her through the house and down the steps to the driveway. Mike was screaming and yelling and waving his arms at no one in particular. Lisa and the boys came running from the house.
What IS it, Mike? Lisa asked as she approached the driveway.
LOOK AT THAT! He pointed at the flag hanging from the garage.
The assembled group obediently looked up.
Oh my! Lisa exclaimed.
YES! Joshua yelled.
How did THAT happen? Aaron questioned.
Suspended from the flagpole was a gigantic Florida State Seminoles flag.
The furious man resumed his ranting. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? I AM GOING TO
MICHAEL! Lisa hurried over and began whispering to her husband.
As he listened to his wife, Mikes eyes shifted to his two sons who were watching him curiously. He took a deep breath and tried to calm down. Oh, well umm heh it looks like someone has played a prank on me.
Whats a prank? Josh asked.
Tina bent down on one knee to answer the child. Its like a joke a way to tease someone.
Oh, someone is teasing Daddy?
Yes, it certainly seems that way.
Mike turned his attention to Tina. YOU wouldnt know anything about this, would you?
Sam burst out laughing at the attempted look of innocence on Tinas face.
Its a PRETTY, red flag, Josh commented.
Its not red... its maroon, Aaron said sarcastically.
Actually, its garnet. Garnet and gold are the FSU colors. It is pretty, isnt it? Tina gave Joshua a quick hug and spoke into his ear before standing up.
The boy smiled and went to retrieve a plastic bag from beneath the steps to Sams apartment. Look, Daddy! Heres your flag! He ran back and handed the package to his father.
Ive got people coming over here today. Mike opened the garage door. If they ever saw that He scowled at the object in question before going inside.
Sam looked at Tina, who was grinning from ear to ear. You sure started this day off with a bang. How did you put that up there without a ladder?
See how close the flagpole is to your window?
Its not THAT close. Sam tried not to think about Tina precariously hanging out her window in the middle of the night.
I have long arms.
Mike came out of the garage lugging a wooden ladder.
Ive got to go get my camera. Sam dashed up her steps. This is definitely a scene for the family album.
Let me help you. Tina held the apparatus steady while Mike climbed to the top.
Sam snapped pictures as the Seminole flag was removed and replaced by the Gator one. Mike put the ladder away and closed the garage door. Cmon, boys, I want you to help me decorate for the party.
COOL! They responded in unison and scampered after their father.
Lisa sighed. Well, Id better get moving. Ive got a ton of things to get done before the guests arrive.
Wait! Sam handed the camera to her sister. Before you go, will you take a picture of us?
The couple hugged each other and Lisa took the picture.
Thanks, Sis! Sam said before looking up at Tina.
Lisa snapped once more, catching the two gazing into each others eyes. One for good measure. She smiled as she handed the camera back and the women exchanged good-byes.
Whats this about a party? Tina asked as they entered the apartment.
Oh. Sam went to the kitchen, filled a couple of coffee mugs with water and put them in the microwave to heat. Mike invites a bunch of his friends to the house to watch the game every year. She opened the refrigerator to get the creamer and saw the bacon and eggs. You got stuff for breakfast!
Umm yeah but if you have people coming over, maybe I should get going.
I dont have anyone coming over. Its Mikes party and it doesnt even start until this afternoon. She put the breakfast things on the counter. Dont you dare try to leave so soon. She grabbed Tina around the waist and held her tight.
Ill stay for a little while but Id rather not be here when those Gator fans show up, okay?
Okay. The microwave beeped but Sam maintained the embrace for a few more moments before reluctantly letting go to prepare the coffee.
They had their breakfast, with Tina excitedly talking about the upcoming game. Sam smiled as she listened to the enthusiastic woman go on and on about the Seminoles.
As she finished her meal, Tina realized that she had monopolized the conversation. She looked across the table. What are you smiling about?
Me? What about me?
Youre happy. Sam went over and sat on Tinas lap. She put her arms around the dark-haired womans neck and looked into her eyes. I like seeing you happy.
You youre what makes me happy.
Hmm. Sam couldnt resist leaning in for a quick kiss. I think that Seminole football team of yours might have a bit more to do with your disposition today than I do.
No its you. Tina paused, trying to calm the emotions that seemed to surface so easily when she was with Sam. I I never thought I could feel like this. You I The words escaped her and she was unable to continue. She pulled Sam close, resting the blondes head against her shoulder and stroking her hair.
The phone rang, startling both of them. Sam went into the living room to answer it.
Tina cleared the table and began washing the dishes.
Sam returned to the kitchen and picked up the dishtowel. That was my friend Kathy. She e-mailed me last weekend asking if I could get together with her tomorrow for lunch. Its a good thing she called to remind me or I would have forgotten all about it. She dried the dishes as they were placed in the drainer and then put them away. She was teasing me saying I mustve have met someone because Ive disappeared recently.
Im sorry Ive been keeping you from your friends
Sam laughed. Youre not keeping me from anybody.
You have friends you should be spending time with them Ive
Listen to me for a minute please. Sam took Tinas hands from the dishwater and dried them with the towel before kissing them softly. There is nowhere else Id rather be no one else Id rather be with than you.
When people first start going out, its kind of all-consuming. My friends know that because theyve been through it themselves. Thats why Kathy was teasing me. She knows I must be seeing someone. Sam studied the large, strong hands she held in her own. My friends are going to want to meet you sometime especially after I tell Kathy how wonderful you are at lunch tomorrow. And word will travel fast. I wonder if Lisa told Kimberly Im dating someone?
I I dont think Im ready for that yet.
I know but theres no hurry, right? We have the rest of our lives.
The rest of our lives? Tina removed one of her hands from Sams grasp so she could reach under the smaller womans chin and tilt her face upward. Green eyes full of love looked back at her.
Sam, realizing what she had said, tried to explain. Oh umm I mean
Its okay. Tina took a deep breath, willing her voice not to shake. I not too long ago, hearing words like that from someone would have sent me running in the opposite direction as fast as I could go. But now with you it just sounds right. Tina bent down to kiss her very surprised, very happy partner.
Someone knocked on the door.
Sam, who had been about to throw caution to the wind and kiss Tina for everything she was worth, groaned. I Id better go see who that is. She went to the door and opened it to find Joshua standing there, hands full of orange and blue crepe paper.
Hi, Auntie Sam! Daddy gave me a job. I have to put this on your railing. Can Tina help me?
Lets ask her. Sam called into the apartment, T someone is here to see you.
Tina came to the door and smiled when she saw Joshua. Whats up?
Will you help me?
Tina looked at the brightly colored paper. He wants me to decorate for the GATORS? Umm I dont know. How can I get out of this? I was doing the dishes... She turned to Sam for corroboration.
Thats all right. The blonde grinned. Ill finish the dishes.
COOL! Joshua beamed. Thanks, Auntie Sam!
Yeah thanks, Auntie Sam, Tina said sardonically.
No problem. Sam playfully nudged the woman out on the landing. Have fun! She chuckled as she shut the door.
Tina looked down at a delighted Joshua, who promptly gave her the decorations. She stared at the offending collegiate colors in her hands. When was it that I totally lost control of my life?
Yes. Resigned to the fact that she now had a job as an assistant decorator, Tina managed a half-grin at the child. So, boss whats the plan?
The two worked together, winding the streamers around the railing, culminating in a big blue and orange bow at the bottom. They stood out in the driveway, admiring their work.
It looks cool, Tina. Thanks for helping me.
Youre not going to be here for the party, are you?
I didnt think so, he said disappointedly. Neither is Auntie Sam.
Nope. I heard them talking. She told Daddy she wants to cheer for the Seminoles.
Mike and Aaron came from the backyard and joined them in the driveway.
Hey! That looks great, Josh! Mike ruffled his sons hair. You do good work.
I had a little help.
So I see.
The two adults eyed each other for a moment. Tina held out her hand. Truce?
Mike shook the offered hand. Truce. Good luck tonight.
All right, boys, The man took the car keys from his pocket and jingled them, time to go get the balloons.
Yay! The children ran to the minivan where they immediately got into an argument over who was going to sit in the front seat. Mike settled the dispute by announcing that Joshua could ride in front on the way to the store and Aaron could on the way back.
Tina waved good-bye and ascended the stairs. I remember having the exact same argument with Steven when we were kids. I guess some things never change. Stepping into the apartment, she heard singing. Following the sound, she went to the doorway of the bedroom and saw that Sam was finishing making up the bed.
Hi there! You all done decorating?
Yes. Thanks SO much for volunteering me.
Youre welcome. Sam laughed at the expression on Tinas face. Youre not pouting, are you?
Aww Sam went over and hugged the sulking woman. You poor thing forced to put up decorations for a Gator party Suddenly, strong arms grabbed her and propelled her backwards. HEY!
They fell onto the bed and Tina began tickling Sam. She continued until the blonde begged for her to stop.
I feel MUCH better now, Tina said smugly.
Oh you Sams words were cut off by a searing kiss from her partner. My goodness what was I saying?
I was wondering, Tina smiled at the somewhat dazed look on Sams face, I usually just watch the game alone at my place but umm would you like to come over?
Yes! I thought youd never ask. Id REALLY like that.
Maybe you could bring Josh along, too? Hes going to have a rough time of it if he stays here with all those Gator fans.
I think thats a terrific idea. Ill ask Lisa and Mike if its okay.
I need to get going then. Tina stood and helped Sam off the bed. Ill stop by the store and get hot dogs and chips.
I was going to go to Lisas for a while and help her. How about I come over later this afternoon?
They hugged and kissed good-bye. When Sam walked Tina outside, she pointed to the railing. Nice job with the Gator orange and blue.
Tina reached toward her, wiggling her fingers as if she were going to tickle her.
Sam ran away. Okay! No more talk about the decorations I promise!
You know I can always catch you, Tina bantered.
Oh Im counting on it.
Tina laughed as she got into her car. As she drove away, she looked in the rearview mirror and saw Sam standing there, waving.
I love you, Samantha Whitwell.
To be continued
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