Two months earlier
“No, I can’t, Al. I’m sorry...” Shane leaned her back against the refrigerator in the kitchen she shared with Jenny and Max as she listened to Alice’s voice on the phone. Her gossip-loving friend was trying to talk her into going out with her. “What?” She frowned, trying to hear Alice over her roommates talking next to her.
“Why?” Alice repeated crankily. “I thought you said before you weren’t doing anything.”
“Well, Jenny’s home,” Shane replied and couldn’t keep from smiling. She glanced over at her best friend and chuckled at the thought that Jenny’s purple dress made her look like a grape. “She just…” she began, but Alice interrupted her.
“Couldn’t she just have stayed on that raft?”
“Oh, Jesus Christ, Al!” Shane raised her voice, fed up with Alice constantly badmouthing Jenny. “No, really, drop it. I’m so tired of hearing this, you’re really not one to talk…” She covered her eyes with her hand in frustration and let out a deep sigh when Alice started yapping on the other end. “You’re not!” she went on when Alice finally shut up. “You can’t go off on Jenny just ‘cause she wrote that book when you’ve done the exact same thing for years.”
Jenny shot Shane an amused glance and Shane rolled her eyes in response and sat down by the table. “Yes, you have,” she interrupted Alice when she claimed she’d never done anything like that. “You told each…”
“I didn’t…” Alice tried to interrupt, but Shane went on.
“…Each and every one of your listeners everything about us, and you didn’t even change our names. And no one ever said anything about that, so will you please just give her a break?”
The line went silent and for a second Shane thought Alice had hung up on her. “All right, all right,” she then sighed. “I’ll be nice. Happy now?”
“Yup,” Shane chirped, but silently she wondered how long Alice’s involuntary attitude change was going to last. Probably only until the next time she and Jenny found themselves in the same room with each other.
“Well, have fun then,” Alice said a little too enthusiastically for it to seem sincere. “Tell Jenny I said hi.”
“All right, I will,” Shane replied and another deep sigh escaped her lips when she finally ended the call.
“Was that Alice?” Jenny asked with a smirk even though she damn well knew it had been. Max waved goodbye to them and hurried out through the back door on his way out on a date with Grace and Jenny sat down on top of the kitchen table, next to Shane.
“She said ‘hi’,” Shane told her and hoped she wouldn’t have to have the same conversation all over again, but with Jenny this time.
Jenny nodded and looked down at her hands for a moment, swinging her legs back and forth under the table and trying not to smile. “Oh, I bet she did.”
“Jenny, come on,” Shane begged her, “can’t you at least try to…” She paused as she almost said ‘kiss and make up’ and immediately it got stuck in her head, the image of Jenny and Al making out at Here! a few months earlier. She shrugged, trying to shake off the uncomfortable feeling it had given her. “Can’t you at least try to get along? It’s getting old and I don’t want my friends to fight all the time.”
“I’m not fighting with anyone,” Jenny stated matter-of-factly with an innocent smile. She wasn’t – everyone else was fighting with her, but she couldn’t really say she cared. They could all think what they wanted to think, because really, they were going to anyway.
“I know that,” Shane sighed, taking one of Jenny’s small hands in her own. “But you’re kinda encouraging Alice, Bette and Tina. We all used to be friends, and I’d very much like for us to go back to that. Please…”
Jenny nodded again with a big grin this time. “Okay, I promise that I will stop making it easier for them to hate me.” Judging by the frown on Shane’s face, she obviously wasn’t amused, so Jenny went on. “Oh, come on, Shane, lighten up. Give me a hug!”
Those last few words seemed to wipe the worries away from Shane’s face and she smiled brightly at Jenny as she picked her up off the floor and spun her around. “I really missed you. So fucking much.”
“I missed you too!” Jenny giggled. “I wish you could have been there with me.”
Shane put Jenny down again and went to the fridge to get them a couple of Dos Equis’. “Tell me all about it, I wanna know what you’ve been up to!” With the beers in one hand and one of Jenny’s hands in the other, she headed towards the living room couch where they both sat down to talk.
“I’ll tell you everything,” Jenny said as she moved closer to Shane. “But I just need to say something first.”
“What?” Shane opened the bottles and handed one of them to Jenny who just put it down on the table and looked at her.
“Shane, I’m really sorry.”
Shane’s face fell in an instant and she looked concerned at her friend. “Why are you sorry? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Jenny replied, taking Shane’s beer out of her hand and placing it too on the table before straddling her lap. “I talked to Max when you were on the phone and he told me that you didn’t take it that well when I just kinda disappeared. And I’m so sorry I did that to you.”
“What did he tell you?” Shane asked, her voice strained and she swallowed hard. She had never minded that Jenny touched her, but having Jenny in her lap like that, so close, was too much. Especially now…
Jenny shook her head and shrugged. “He just said that, nothing else. But I really am sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
“Jenny…” Shane interrupted and Jenny looked questioningly into her eyes, not knowing what to expect.
“Yes?” Her fingers played with Shane’s new silver necklace that she’d given her earlier that night. The cross pendant reminded her of the tattoo on Shane’s left wrist and she’d bought it while she was away, partly because she wanted to bring a gift home with her, and partly because she needed something with her that felt like Shane somehow.
“He’s right,” Shane said quietly, embarrassed when she remembered how she’d been acting while Jenny was gone. How the night after she disappeared, she’d gone into Jenny’s room and sat down on her bed, crying and wondering if Jenny was even alive. Sounder had jumped up into her lap and licked her face, as if he was trying to tell her that everything would be okay. She hadn’t been able to stop until Max had found her there, but there was no point in telling Jenny about it, it would only hurt her more. Shane just decided to go with Max’s version. “Before you called, I was a mess.”
“I called as soon as I got off the raft, as soon as I found a phone! My phone got wet and wouldn’t work anymore.”
Shane smiled a little, but the pain she remembered was still much too visible in her eyes. “I know that,” she said and rubbed the back of her neck, “and I don’t want you to feel bad about it. I’m glad you called me. But that night…” She paused, took a deep breath and sighed. “That night, you told me you’d just been fired from your own movie. And somehow it reminded me of what happened the last time you left…” She didn’t want to say anything else about it, but she knew Jenny understood what she meant. That morning in the bathroom, two years ago… “I didn’t wanna leave you there, because I was so scared that I would go back to look for you, and you’d be gone. Then all of a sudden you were, and I couldn’t find you. You left, and when you did that… You took with you every little part of me that mattered.”
“Shane…” Jenny felt like the worst cunt in the universe for what she’d done. ‘Even worse than Tina,’ she thought. But there was nothing she could say or do to make up for having left the most precious person in her world, without as much as a word. She looked at Shane who sat in front of her looking heartbroken, and she tried to figure out how it was even possible to love someone as much as she loved her.
“If you’re not there, Jen…” Shane continued, “there’s nothing.” She swallowed and looked into her best friend’s eyes. Women, sex or kisses never made her nervous. But having Jenny in her lap and telling her that she couldn’t be without her, that scared the crap out of her. The fear of losing the best friend she’d ever had in her whole life, the fear of being rejected by the person who meant the most to her, made her heart start hammering furiously in her chest. For the first time, sitting in front of Jenny in silence was torture to her. ‘Please, just say something, anything.’
Jenny saw the frightened look on her face and gently placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, using the other to brush the hair away from her face. Their lips were painfully close but didn’t touch. Instead, Jenny looked deeply into Shane’s eyes and they both smiled in silent agreement before they let their lips met for the first time in the four years they’d known each other.
As the kiss deepened she could feel Shane’s hands on her hips, drawing her closer, but much to Jenny’s dismay, she soon let go of her. Instead she cradled Jenny’s face in her hands and gently brushed away tears Jenny didn’t even know she had cried, and when she opened her eyes, she saw Shane’s looking back at her, filled with concern.
“They’re happy tears,” Jenny giggled and smiled brightly back at her. Still, in Shane’s eyes some of the worry she’d seen there before seemed to have returned. “Shane, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Good,” Shane said softly and Jenny saw something peaceful in her eyes that she couldn’t remember ever seeing before. It was adorable, and contagious too.
Shane wrapped her arm around Jenny, picked her up and caused her to squeal happily when she carried her in the direction of her bedroom. For a moment Jenny looked as if she thought Shane was about to drop her and she smiled and reassured her. “It’s okay, Jenny, I got you.”
Jenny just smiled playfully back up at her. “Yes, you definitely got me.”