"Carol!" There was a soft knock at the door. "Carol, are you ready?"
"Yes! Just give me a moment," Carol called out from the bathroom. Therese smiled at the hint of exasperation in her voice.
A couple of minutes later Carol opened the door, lit cigarette in hand. "What do you think?"
"Oh, Carol," Therese sighed. She marveled at her flowing emerald dress and elegantly curled hair. The smoke from her cigarette swirled around in front of her, giving her an almost ethereal look, as if she were a dream.
"I'm going to take your reaction as a positive." Carol smiled coyly and moved closer to Therese before kissing her softly on the mouth.
Today, her photographer would be taking photos of her and Rindy. The photos were to act as a peace offering to Harge, but really Carol longed to have more evidence of her daughter in her life. For the past few months, Harge had been allowing her supervised visits, never leaving her alone with Rindy for more than fifteen minutes at a time. And even at that, he was always tense around her, seeming to sense Therese's quiet presence throughout the apartment, without him actually seeing her or even truly knowing she lived there. The last time he had stopped by with Rindy, he noticed Therese's camera and film on the kitchen counter.
"So, how is your shop girl?" He had asked, the slightest hint of animosity was present in his tone.
"Therese," Carol had said, pointedly. "She is doing well." And that was all that was said as Rindy colored in one of her new drawings.
Now, in front of her, Therese was smiling widely, her dimples warming Carol's heart. Yes, Therese is well indeed, she thought. She reached out and gently touched Therese's fingers, which were wrapped around the lens of her camera. "Are we going to take these photos or just stare into each other's eyes all afternoon?"
Therese snorted and playfully slapped Carol's hand away. "I'm sorry that I find you so wonderful." Carol laughed and watched as Therese walked toward the living room, where Rindy was sat quietly on the couch, flipping through a picture book Harge had bought for her.
"Hey there, are you ready to take some pretty pictures with Mommy?" Therese asked, kneeling down to be at eye level with the small girl.
"Mmhm," Rindy hummed in response. "Mommy said that you're a very good photographer," she said, stumbling over the last word.
"Oh, well that was very kind of her to say." Therese smiled and looked behind her at Carol, who was leaning against the doorframe, inhaling the last of her cigarette.
Carol watched as Therese and her daughter talked a little more, and she found herself grinning widely at the two of them. Her angel and her special girl in the same room. In her apartment. In her life. Bringing her more happiness than she could have ever dreamed all those months ago after the injunction, the lawyers, the psychiatrist. Right here, was a moment that she would keep in her heart forever. It was the beginning of her once unattainable happily-ever-after.