Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

On a Random Day, Kate Price and Nadine Powell

Summary: Nadine stops by Kate’s house to say something that is very long overdue.

Kate glanced at her phone, saved her article, and leaned back in her seat. “Hey, Dean. What’s up?”

“Hi. Nothing really, just… are you at home?”

“Yeah.” A wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows. “Are you okay? You sound weird.”

“I’m fine. I just need to talk with you about something. I’ll be over in about twenty minutes. Is that good for you?”

Kate checked her watch. “Yeah, fine. I’ll see you then.”

She hung up and pushed back from the desk. She had been working from home more often lately now that they had enough room. Before, in Amy’s little railroad apartment, there’d barely been enough room to turn around. Not to mention the distracting smells coming from the bakery right next door. But in their new house she had found a perfect little nook just off the kitchen where she could set up her laptop and shut out the world long enough to get her work done. Better yet, it was situated so that her back was to the window so none of that attention-hogging nature could divert her.

She went into the kitchen and searched the cabinets for some sort of snack to serve when Nadine showed up. Amy was a natural hostess, but there had to be something she could put out. She found snack cakes and hard candy, neither of which she thought would be an acceptable offering. There were fixings for sandwiches… she thought about making some sandwiches and then cutting them up into…

“Who are you, Martha Stewart?” she muttered. There was a package of cherries in the cupboard and she poured those into a bowl and set it on the dining room table where she assumed their conversation would be taking place. Once that was taken care of, she went back to her computer to proofread what she’d written as she awaited her guest.

Nadine arrived with her standard punctuality, predictable enough that Kate opened the door right as Nadine was riding up the driveway on her bike. She put down her foot to skid her sneaker along the asphalt and smiled as Kate came out onto the porch.

“Hey there,” Nadine said.

“Hey yourself.” Nadine propped her bike up on the porch and greeted Kate with a hug. “Come on in. Amy and Nicole are still at work.”

“That’s okay. I wanted to talk with you in private.”

Kate thought a statement like that should have seemed ominous, but something about Nadine’s manner kept her from taking that leap. They went inside and Nadine stopped to scan the ground floor living area. The main room flowed into the kitchen, with a dining room in between. The furniture was arranged so that the kitchen had the best view of the patio doors, giving them a great view to enjoy with their dinner.

“Wow, you three have really made this place beautiful.”

“Mostly Nicole. She has a great eye.”

Nadine nodded and sat down at the dining room table. Kate sat catty-corner to her, trying not to dread the serious expression on her friend’s face.

“Do you want something to drink?”

“No, thanks.” She folded her hands on the table in front of her. “There’s kind of a big day coming up in a few weeks.”

“Nicole’s birthday?”

Nadine looked up. “Is it? Oh! No, that’s… not what I meant, but thank you for reminding me. No, uh. The Squire’s Day festival is coming up in July, and the Parks department is having a Renaissance Faire theme again.”

Kate raised her eyebrows. “I hadn’t heard that. That should be a lot of fun. They haven’t done Renn Faire since…”

“2007,” Nadine said. “Seven years ago.”

Kate nodded and slowly smiled. “Yeah. We were actually dating then.” She chuckled and shook her head. “Sorry. It’s just… bizarre to think you and I used to date. We’re much better as friends.”

“So much better.” Nadine put her hand on top of Kate’s, and Kate turned her wrist to link their fingers. “But it’s also been seven years since everything changed. I said something without thinking, and I came out in front of the entire town. Looking back it’s kind of hard to remember how shocking that news was. I mean, our mayor is married to a woman, gay marriage is legal in a dozen states… but back then I had basically just destroyed everything I’d worked so hard to create. It might have boiled down, but then you wrote about it in the paper.”

Kate’s smile had vanished; she had seen exactly where the story was going. “Dean, if I could take it back…”

“No!” Nadine’s voice was strong enough that Kate’s eyes widened. “No, that’s not…” She pressed her lips together and squeezed Kate’s hand. “That’s not where I was going. You destroyed my life.”

Kate blinked back tears. “I’m sorry.”

“No.” Nadine sighed. “God. This seemed so clever when I was rehearsing it.” She covered their joined hands with her free hand, leaning forward. “You destroyed the life where I was hiding in the closet, ashamed of who I was. You opened the door and pulled me out. I never would have done that for myself. I never would have been strong enough. But because of you, I came out. I met the woman I’m going to spend the rest of my life with, and I get to spend my life with her because you set me free. When I thought about this conversation this morning, I thought I owed you forgiveness. I had never actually forgiven you out loud for that article. But that’s not right at all. I owe you an extremely overdue thank-you.” She picked up Kate’s hand and kissed the back of it. “Thank you, Kate.”

Kate’s cheeks were wet, and she brushed them away with her free hand. She chuckled and shook her head. “I don’t know. It was a bitch move.”

“Maybe.” Nadine grinned. “But you were right back then. It was your job and it would have been stupid not to write about it. God, for once something interesting happened at the town hall meeting. You would have been a bad reporter to ignore it. And you are anything but a bad reporter.”

“God. What is happening? My birthday is months away. I can’t handle all this praise on a random Thursday.”

“I know. I’m not good with just sitting down and declaring how I feel about big stuff. That’s why it’s taken me seven years to do this. But the life you ended was just… stagnant, and I tolerated it, and I was scared of any kind of change. But the life you pushed me into?” She turned her left hand over to see her ring. “This is the life I’ve always wanted. Thank you, Kate.”

Kate chuckled and stood up. “You’re welcome.” She bent down and hugged Nadine. “You could have warned me that you were going to make me cry.”

“Sorry.”

“I guess I forgive you. I think I owe you thanks, too. If all that hadn’t happened, I might never have even noticed Amy.” She pulled back from the hug. “God. That actually kind of hurt to even talk about.” She put a hand on her chest and rubbed.

Nadine grinned and kissed Kate’s cheek. “Look, I know this is your work time, so I won’t hang around and bug you…”

“Are you sure? We could just hang out.”

“No, no. But we definitely have to get together sometime soon, all five of us. Is Nicole having a party for her birthday?”

“Nothing special. But I know Amy would jump at the chance to have a real dinner party now that we have an honest-to-goodness kitchen. We’ll arrange something when we’re all free.”

Nadine nodded. “Great. Okay. I’m going to go before I get any more maudlin.” She stood up and grabbed a few cherries. She popped them into her mouth as Kate escorted her back to the door. “See you this weekend, most likely. I know M is free.”

Kate said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’ll be good for us, too. Thanks, Dean. You didn’t have to say all that, but I’m really touched that you did.”

Nadine smiled. “You’re welcome. Bye, Kate.”

Kate waved and watched Nadine pedal down the driveway and coast out onto the street. Once she was out of sight, Kate shut the door and walked back into the living room. It seemed like an entirely different person who had slept with the hot disc-jockey who lived downstairs and wrote that horribly invasive article. She would never admit it out loud, but there were times when she still had brief flashes of self-hatred for turning it in. She knew Nadine’s revelation had been accidental, and she was absolutely positive that Nadine didn’t want to be out. But she’d published the article anyway. Things had worked out the best for everyone involved, and Nadine’s reaction to coming out had changed the entire island for the better, but what if she hadn’t been such a fighter? What if she had just backed down and folded in on herself? Kate would have been responsible shutting down one of the most vibrant women she’d ever known.

She remembered how strong her loathing had been when the backlash first started to hit. Nadine was demonized from all sides, her career threatened, at one point in physical danger from the loons who demanded she be taken off the air. All of that was Kate’s doing. She’d responded by trying to kill herself, and she’d come damn close. So damn close.

She sat on the couch and thought about the morning she had mixed pills with alcohol, how she had gone to sleep thinking it didn’t matter if she never woke up. Seven years. She would have missed everything that happened in the past seven years. Amy. Nicole. Their life together.

After a long moment of trying to center herself, Kate got up and went to retrieve her phone. She dialed and looked out at the distracting vista outside their kitchen windows until Amy answered.

“Hey. Everything all right?”

“Everything’s fine,” Kate said. “I just… I needed to hear your voice. I was actually thinking about coming down, working in the bakery for a few hours.”

Amy sighed. “God, you don’t know how much I need that.”

“Need what?”

“To look up and see your face in the back booth. It gets me through.”

Kate blinked back tears and looked down at her feet. “Ames.”

“Mm-hmm?”

“I love you.”

Amy was silent for a moment. “You okay?”

Kate chuckled. “Yeah, I’m fine. Um. I need to put on shoes and everything but I’ll be down there soon. I want to stop by the picture shop and see Nicole, too. See if she wants to come sit with me for a bit.”

“Mm. I hope she does. Thanks for calling. It’s been a crazy day, but it’ll be better having my girls here. See you soon. I love you, Kate.”

Kate said, “See you soon.”

She hung up and put the phone down on the counter. After a moment she chuckled to herself, shook her head, and went upstairs to change so she could go see her girls.

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