"You want me to go where?" Brenda said back into the phone hoping she had heard her client wrong.
"LA. We are opening an office there, but there is a certain matter that needs to be handled first. John thought you would be the perfect one for the job."
She shook her head even though she knew Mary couldn't see her through the phone.
"We would pay for all of your expenses, and it should only take a day or two for someone with your skillset. John said to give you whatever you want Brenda. So please just write up the offer and send it over. I already emailed you the details of what needs to be done."
She liked Mary, she really did, but she just didn't know if she could do this. There was too much baggage in LA. Even though she had worked through most of it, there were still about a million reasons not to go. The Baker Foundation was one of her biggest clients though and she would hate to lose a good thing over her own personal stuff.
"Next week. So you'll go then?" Mary sighed a little exasperated.
Brenda chuckled at the other woman. "You owe me." They discussed a few more details and then hung up.
Brenda threw herself down on the couch in her living room. It was time to face her demons in person. It was time to face Sharon. Although given the size of Los Angeles, Brenda figured if she really wanted to she could probably just avoid the woman and everyone she had ever known. They wouldn't even have to know that she was in town. Deep down though, she didn't want to do that. Deep down, she wanted to see exactly one person. Sharon Raydor.
The flight had been uneventful, other than having one too many tiny wines on the plane. She really didn't like flying too much, but she had also needed to calm her nerves for other reasons. She had arranged for a driver to pick her up and for once she was grateful her foresight had paid off. It was two o'clock in the afternoon and she really needed to get to the hotel and take a shower, and possibly eat something. Brenda had put a week's worth of planning into this trip. The actual job she had to do here was going to be cake. The planning had been about meeting Sharon again.
Brenda didn't want to be presumptuous and assume she wasn't seeing anyone, but secretly she hoped the Captain wasn't. Tao hadn't mentioned her dating anyone anyway. She also didn't want to just call and say oh hey I'm in town, want to get a drink? That didn't feel right either. She thought about showing up at PAB, but that wouldn't allow for the conversation she wanted to have. In the end, Brenda had decided to stick to her true form. She was just going to show up at Sharon's door and either have the door slammed in her face or be welcomed. She was hoping for the later of the two. Of course, there were many other scenarios, but those were the two she could actually picture in her mind.
The hotel she had chosen was nowhere near where she needed to be for work, but it was close to Sharon. She figured as long as the other woman didn't have a case to keep her at work, Brenda had enough time to freshen up, eat a snack to sober up a little more, and then make it to Sharon's about dinner time. If all went according to plan, she hoped to take the Captain to dinner and talk.
In her hotel room, Brenda unpacked and looked at her outfit choices. She had overpacked, but she wasn't sure what all she would need or what she would feel like wearing. In the end, she settled on some skinny jeans and a pink lace top with a lighter pink undershirt. She needed the comfort of her favorite color if she was going to do this. She debated on going fancier, but then decided against it. She didn't want the pressure of being overdressed for getting the door slammed in her face. At 6:30 she hailed a cab and headed off on her next big adventure as her daddy had called it.
Before she left Atlanta, she went to see her father and over dinner she had just laid it out there for him about Sharon. Their relationship was so different now than it had been in the past. She was honest with him more and he was more understanding. She wasn't sure if it was because her momma was gone or if they just treasured each other more now that Willie Ray was gone. Either way, it felt good. Clay had told her to do what her heart told her and if this was the next big adventure she was going to take then she had better put all her effort into it because the Johnson's never did anything halfway.
The elevator ride to Sharon's floor reminded her of the last time she had ridden this elevator. The night that she finally had understood Sharon's letter completely and came to confront her about it. Maybe it had taken her two more years to be ready, but Sharon had told her "when you are ready." Hopefully, there was still a chance that she wasn't being an idiot. After a few deep breaths, she knocked and waited. As the door swung open she froze.
"Brenda," Sharon breathed more than she said.
"Hey Sharon." She said with a giant smile she couldn't control. The brunette looked as beautiful as ever.
Before she could register what was happening Sharon was hugging her. This was a good sign, a very good sign. She hugged her back and relished in the smell her nose had been missing for too long.
"You came back," Sharon whispered in her ear.
"For you," she said just as quietly.
When the embrace broke and they pulled back to look at each other, Brenda saw the tears in her eyes. Reflexively she reached up and wiped them away. "Don't cry, Cap'n."
Sharon chuckled and moved to allow her entry inside before closing the door again. Brenda smiled to herself because at least the door wasn't slammed in her face. Entering the condo was a little surreal. Brenda had spent a week thinking about how this would go, but only a few scenarios had her actually inside and with Sharon looking at her the way she was.
"Before you start with the questions because I'm sure you have a lot of 'em. Do you want to get dinner with me?" Brenda kind of shrugged as she said it, choosing to look around the condo instead of at Sharon. She was trying to buy herself some extra time. She was feeling more nervous than ever.
"You're right I do have questions." Sharon said smoothly, moving toward Brenda. The blonde tried to step back, but Sharon caught her arm. "But right now none of those questions matter." Standing face to face now, the Captain tilted Brenda's chin up so they were looking in each other's eyes. Then, she leaned in and tenderly kissed the other woman. It was as if everything came rushing back to Brenda. The memory of the kiss flooded back and she reacted kissing Sharon back, moving her hands around her and pulling her closer. When they broke for air, she felt dizzy and...happy. "Let's skip dinner," Sharon whispered into her ear.
"Sounds good Cap'n."
The next morning Brenda woke to Sharon stroking her hair and running her hands down her back. This was definitely something she could get used to. It had been a magical night that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Now with the morning sun rays shining through the blinds and illuminating Sharon's face it was also a magical morning. She hadn't just dreamt all of this. She hadn't just imagined it and woke up disappointed. It was real. They were real.
"Good morning." Sharon leaned down and kissed her.
"Morning." She rolled over to face the other woman completely.
"I still can't believe you're here." It did seem surreal.
"I can't believe you can do that thing you did last night." That made Sharon laugh so hard her eyes crinkled and she looked more carefree than Brenda had ever seen her look. It made her want to keep her laughing forever.
When the laughter died down, Sharon got serious for a moment. "I called you last week, on your birthday."
Brenda got quiet, but she didn't look away. This was one of those moments she knew had to happen. There were going to be some tough conversations, but she had decided to lean into them and face all of this head on. Sharon deserved nothing less. "I changed my number two years ago. Too many people I didn't want to talk to anymore. I should have told you because you were definitely not one of those people I never wanted to speak to again." It was true. Mainly she didn't want to talk to Fritz or Pope or Taylor or any of the other people who had tried to change her mind about her decision to leave or move.
"I wish you would have."
Brenda couldn't help but hear a tinge of sadness in Sharon's voice and guilt ripped through her because of it. "Sharon, I'm sorry." Sharon shook her head making her stop.
"You don't have to apologize. I just felt hurt, like I would never hear your voice again or something."
"You used to hate my voice." Brenda went for the long shot on humor, all she got was a smirk. Right serious moment. "I promise you this, as long as you want, you can hear my voice. In the middle of the night, in the morning, ten minutes after we hang up, you can call me back and hear me anytime you want." This time Sharon laughed.
"I forgot how dramatic you could be." Sharon kissed her again.
"Well I'm a lot less dramatic these days trust me."
"Tell me about how you are these days. What are you doing out in Georgia?"
They talked for hours. Discussing their lives and what had happened since they had been apart. They just laid in bed and talked and kissed and talked. It was amazing. Everything she had wanted to say, she got a chance to say. All the things she had wanted to share with Sharon she got a chance to fill her in on. They got to know each other again. They made coffee and breakfast and went back to bed. All day they caught up and made love and felt all the emotions they had been holding in. Brenda couldn't have imagined it any better. They had a lot of things to discuss about the future and plans like who would move where and what they would do, but she had a really good feeling about it. She knew this was the forever type of love that her parents had. She knew that she would do anything for this woman, and she knew that it would be worth it. Her first husband, Pope, Fritz, none of those relationships had felt like this one already did. She and Sharon would figure it out, and they would do it together and for each other.