The rest of the weekend passed smoothly and Rainbow could finally relax in Nadja’s company and enjoy herself. Even so, Rainbow found herself oddly excited to be back at Hildegard’s place come Monday morning. In some ways, she was almost more excited to see her than she had been to see Nadja. Maybe this was because she and Nadja always got along great in bed as opposed to out of bed where things could get a little unpredictable at times. Nadja and her mother simply bore two totally different personalities. Where Nadja was the more serious type that was easily upset, her mother had a quieter, easygoing temperament. But at the same time, Hildegard was more on the mellow side, the woman was not weak, vulnerable, naïve or unintelligent in any way. In fact, Hildy was a very receptive individual who didn’t miss much. Perhaps that was the one thing she did have in common with her daughter; they were smart, independent and very intuitive.
“Has she eaten breakfast yet?” Hildegard asked her daughter in German as she helped carry her stuff.
“Ich bin nicht hungrig,” Rainbow said, letting Hildegard know she wasn’t hungry. She turned to Nadja who gazed down regretfully at her.
“I hate to go, as always,” said Nadja.
“It’s a good thing I get along so well with your mom. If I didn’t it might make the wait seem even longer.” The look on Nadja’s face as her eyes flicked to her mother and back again made her wonder if she said the wrong thing. Certainly, Nadja wasn’t jealous of her own mother, was she?
Instead of saying anything, the tall woman bent down to kiss her on the lips. “Take care of each other,” she said. And then she was gone.
Rainbow turned toward Hildegard.
Hildegard smiled brightly and asked if she wanted to go swimming. Rainbow nodded vigorously and ran as fast as her recovering legs would allow her to and changed into her new hot pink bikini.
In the pool with Hildegard a few minutes later, she swam around the older woman whose quiet and pleasant nature never failed to have a soothing and uplifting effect on her. Then she swam closer to her and Hildy grabbed her playfully and squeezed her tightly. She kissed her long and hard on the cheek. Hildy’s affection felt genuine to Rainbow, but then she felt a pang of guilt. Was Hildy really that lonely? And if so, would she go back to feeling that way when she went to live with Nadja? Rainbow returned the kiss and then Hildy made like she was going to chase her around the pool.
“Shhh,” Hildy said with a smile and a giggle as Rainbow squealed with delight a little too loudly when Hildegard caught her.
After they showered a while later, Hildegard settled before the TV while Rainbow settled before her laptop in the kitchen. She exchanged email messages with family back home and then jotted down some new story ideas for a book to try to sell online, now that one no longer needed to go through a traditional publisher to market their novels and other forms of media.
When she felt herself begin to tire, she turned her laptop off, rubbed her eyes, and then slowly made her way into the living room. She stood before Hildegard in her plush chair. Hildegard held her arms out to her and Rainbow settled in at the side of the older woman, once again enjoying the coziness their closeness brought.
Several minutes later Rainbow, who was sort of reclined on her side, left arm draped over Hildy, started to drift off. But not fully enough that she didn’t notice Hildegard noticing the scars that decorated her inner and outer forearm. They weren’t very prominent, but if you looked closely enough you would find the evidence of her earliest days of self-destructiveness.
Although she wouldn’t have asked even if her German was perfect, she wondered what was going through the older woman’s mind as she studied the scars on her arm and gently ran a hand along the scarred skin. Through the corners of her droopy eyelids, she watched Hildy’s profile and wondered what she felt. Was she sad? Disgusted? Ashamed?
Rainbow suddenly came awake. Her eyes sprung open to the darkness around her. In the soft glow of the nightlight, she squinted to see the outline of Hildegard’s body lying next to her.
What the hell? she thought. How had she gone from dozing off with Hildy in her chair to being in bed? The woman may be twice her size and pretty fit for her age, but Rainbow just didn’t see how she could have possibly carried her out of the living room, down the hall and into the bedroom.
Yet she had absolutely no recollection of getting into bed on her own.
Hildegard snored softly. Rainbow fell back asleep to the rhythmic sound of it. The next time she opened her eyes the room was awash in sunlight and the aroma of coffee.
She peed and washed her face in the master bedroom’s bathroom, then headed down the hallway, through the living room and into the kitchen where she found Hildegard standing by the kitchen sink. She sipped her coffee while gazing pensively out the window and into the backyard.
Rainbow stepped up beside her and also looked through the window. It was alive with life and color as birds and various insects fluttered about through the plants, flowers and bird feeder.
When Hildegard spotted her, a smile lit up her face. She placed her mug down on the counter and hugged her. Kissing the top of her head, she began to talk about vacationing in Turkey, excitement heavy in her voice.
At first, Rainbow thought she was saying that Nadja was going down to Turkey soon, but then she realized that Hildegard was talking about them going there.
Rainbow wrinkled her nose as she poured her own cup of coffee. “I adore you, Hildy,” she said in German, “and all you’ve done for me. But I don’t know if I want to go to Turkey. It’s too close to Iraq and that’s a little scary for me.”
“It wouldn’t be for a few months when it started getting cold here, and you would be safe with me,” the older woman said.
“I still don’t know if I’d like it.”
“If I go to Turkey, you go to Turkey,” Hildegard said.
Rainbow looked at her, shocked by the woman’s sudden change of mood. Dark blue eyes stared at her intently.
“Du bist meinem jetzt,” Hildegard said in a matter of fact tone of voice.
“No, I am not yours now,” Rainbow snapped back in German, taking her coffee into the living room and sitting down on the couch.
Hildegard picked up her own cup again and followed Rainbow into the living room. She sat in her chair and joined the younger woman in her silence. Placing an elbow on the arm of the chair and leaning her cheek on the back of her closed hand, blue eyes met green ones.
It was the first – fight? – they’d had since Rainbow came to live with the woman.
“How did I get into bed last night? I don’t remember—” The ringing of the phone cut Rainbow’s words off.
Hildegard picked up the phone on the table next to her chair. From the sound of it, Rainbow got the impression it was one of her closest friends. She waited patiently, expecting the call to end soon. When it didn’t Rainbow grew bored waiting and went to take her shower, forgetting about the mystery of how she’d awoken to find herself in bed with no memory of how she’d gotten there.
Nadja returned home from work late that afternoon to an empty apartment that seemed cold despite the sweltering heat of the day. It may as well have been one of those damp, cloudy winter days she hated so much and that had a way of putting her in a gloomy mood.
The first thing she did – before she even got herself a can of soda – was check her email for anything from Rainbow. When there was nothing, she decided to grab a can of beer instead of soda.
Cracking it open, she kicked off her shoes and plopped down on her couch to feel sorry for herself. Why did it seem like something was trying to keep her from Rainbow? Nadja wasn’t usually the superstitious kind, and she didn’t even believe in God, but she almost felt like something was determined to keep them apart.
Her mind flashed to her mother. Nadja no longer felt like her mother was someone who was looking out for someone she cared about until she could do it herself. Now she felt almost like a competitor who wanted the same thing she did only for different reasons. She didn’t have to ask her mother to know that she’d become attached to Rainbow. It was obvious. And why wouldn’t she? She was all alone save for those friends and family members that visited her on weekends and she knew her mother well enough to know that she would feel the natural urge to want to take care of Rainbow, ultimately ending up too attached to the girl.
She thought back to when she first met Rainbow online. She had liked the girl from the start and enjoyed their chats. But she’d never felt the kind of attraction for Rainbow that Rainbow had confessed to having for her because she’d always been much more into men. She also preferred those of her own language and nationality, but especially her language. One wrong word could lead to a huge misunderstanding despite being fluent in English as she was. Yet once she’d actually seen Rainbow in person, none of that seemed to matter anymore. Not her gender, not her faults, not her language. She loved everything about the feisty little American lady.
She almost panicked at the thought of the courts continuing to grant so-called custody of Rainbow to her mother. It was still possible, wasn’t it?
“The courts can’t make her stay someplace else for more than a year,” she tried to console herself with. But a year may as well be forever.
“Don’t worry,” she also told herself a minute later. “The judge himself said he’d probably give her to me.”
But cops, lawyers, judges and other people in law enforcement sometimes lied or changed their minds, didn’t they?