In Valparaiso With No Lonely Planet
by Sängerin

'I don't do rose-covered cottages.'

She turned around. The words were in English and the voice was as familiar to Zoe - Gina - as anything in her life could be.


She was three steps away, dressed in a pale linen suit and wearing sunglasses.

'I had a hard time tracking you down,' said Tessa.

'I believe that's the point when one's identity is changed.'

Tessa sat down at Zoe's table. 'Aren't you going to invite me to join you?'

'You've already invited yourself.' Zoe waved the waitress over and Tessa ordered in Spanish.

There were questions Zoe wanted to ask, but couldn't. How Tessa had found her, how she'd even known that Zoe was no longer in the UK; whether through her networks she knew anything of Danny, Harry, Ruth, or of Tom, or less likely, Christine. Why she was here and how long she was planning to stay.

'It happens to all of us in the end, Zoe,' Tessa said as the waitress arrived back at the table with a drink. 'I'm assuming you've got a fairly nice life here. The climate is far better than in England.'

'Oh yes, the climate is marvellous.' Zoe couldn't keep the bitterness from her voice entirely. 'Why are you here?'

Tessa pushed her sunglasses onto the top of her head. 'Because I knew you'd never have the courage to come looking for me.'

'Why would I?' returned Zoe. 'You don't do rose-covered cottages.'

'And you do?'

Zoe looked around her. 'No, I guess I don't.'

Her apartment was up two flights of stairs above an alleyway, off a laneway that meandered through the narrow streets of the old part of Valparaiso. She took Tessa there after they'd finished their drinks.

The years since they'd last seen each other, and the sun of Majorca had been kind to Tessa. Zoe's breath caught the way it always had when Tessa took off her blouse.

'I'd hate you if I didn't want you so much,' Zoe said, before she pulled Tessa in to kiss her.

'You haven't lost your touch,' Tessa gasped, as Zoe slid her hands over Tessa's ribs.

Their relationship had never been gentle. It had always been combative, a competition to see who could provoke the biggest reaction; who could make the other's mask slip. But in Zoe's apartment on the far side of the world, away from almost everything and everyone she cared about, their lovemaking was exactly that. It was slow and gentle, soft kisses dropped lightly on naked skin, hands gliding and caressing each other's bodies. And when Zoe began to cry, Tessa held her and stroked her hair, which only made Zoe cry harder. She wept for everything she'd lost, and for joy of the moment in Tessa's arms.

Zoe woke up as the early morning light crept into the apartment. Tessa was silhouetted against he window, a coffee cup in her hand.

'Wonderful view,' said Tessa without turning around. 'There's coffee,' she added. 'I put in some liquor I found in your kitchen.'

Zoe sat up in the bed, a sheet wrapped around her body and her hands wrapped around the coffee cup Tessa brought to her.

'So what happens now?' asked Zoe.

'Next time you have to track me down.'


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