After… Macon’s Heart

Macon & Joanna


“Is it crazy that they finally went through with it to you, too?” Greene asked her wife.

“Crazy? No, Macon. They were engaged after all,” Joanna replied.

“Yeah, for a long time,” Greene said.

“It’s different for everyone. Some people have short engagements. Some people have long ones. Whatever works for them, right?”

Joanna kicked off her shoes, leaving them by the front door of their home. They had bought a place the previous year more on a whim than anything else. Greene had been making good money touring and making guest appearances around the world. Joanna’s photography was bringing in more than ever thanks to her affiliation with her wife. She was Greene’s personal and professional photographer. They were able to travel together, and while they loved the opportunity to see so many places in the world, Greene was pretty exhausted. They’d found this place in the city one weekend and put in an offer. She’d wanted a new place to call home. Her old apartment, that they’d later shared together, had gotten smaller every time they’d returned from a trip. It didn’t help that both of them enjoyed picking up souvenirs and trinkets everywhere they went.

This house was nice. It was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom place. They used the extra room as both Greene’s music room and Joanna’s office. That wasn’t ideal, since sometimes they wanted to work at the same time, but Greene was more than comfortable playing in front of her wife, and Joanna had gotten used to editing pictures with a violin playing in the background. Still, Greene didn’t feel fully at home in the place, and she wondered why every time they came home to it.

They’d just returned from brunch at Amara’s father’s place. He’d hosted it to celebrate his daughter’s wedding the day before. They’d had fun, but they’d only just returned from Vancouver, where Greene had joined their symphony for a two-week-long program. Although it had also been fun, Greene was ready to stay in one place for a while. On top of that, she still had her position in San Francisco, that had grown a little old as well. She just didn’t feel challenged anymore, and she worried it was showing in her play.

“Do you want to order something in for dinner tonight?” Joanna asked after Greene sat down on the sofa beside her.

“I can make us something,” Greene offered. “I’m kind of tired of take-out and room service food.”

“Me too.” Joanna rested her head on Greene’s shoulder. “Hey, are you okay?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“You just seem a little off lately. I don’t think our friends noticed. But I’m the wife; I notice, Macon.” She placed her hand on Greene’s thigh.

“I don’t know.” She sighed. “I think I’m just tired.”

“The travel?” Joanna checked.

“How’d you know?” Greene asked, kissing the top of Joanna’s head.

“Because I feel the same way.” The woman lifted her head up and looked at her. “There are more offers.”

“To tour?”

“Yes.”

“I know,” Greene said. “I think we need to review all of them again and decide which ones to take.”

“What if you don’t take any?”

“None?” Greene asked.

“I don’t know, babe… I’m tired. You’re tired.” She looked around their condo. “And is it just me or does this place not feel like home the way our old place does?”

“Really?” Greene asked, sighed, and then laughed. “I feel the same way.”

“You haven’t said anything.” Joanna leaned back a little to take her in more.

“I didn’t know how to bring it up.” She shrugged. “When we bought this place, you seemed so excited.”

“I was; until we moved in all our stuff and had no room to move around.” She sighed deeply. “And I don’t want to give up our stuff, Make. We can’t even hang up that picture we bought in Florence after I proposed. We don’t have enough wall space here.”

“Or office space,” Greene added. “I know you don’t like working when I’m playing.”

“I do, actually. Well, most of the time. Sometimes, it would be nice to work without the soundtrack, but I go to my desk at Keira’s when I need to.”

“Yeah, during business hours. But I know you’d like your own space here, too.”

“I would. I think you do, too.”

“I do,” Greene confirmed. “What do you think we should do? If we take all or even some of the offers, we won’t have time to find a new place here. If we take none of them, we can find a new place, but without that money coming in, I’m not sure we’ll be able to afford much bigger. The symphony here doesn’t pay much. I guess I could go back to giving lessons or pick up more work at the universities to help.”

“Babe, you already work so hard,” Joanna said, turning her body all the way toward Greene. “I love you for that, but – I don’t know – maybe we should consider moving outside the city, like Hillary and Amara, or something.”

“I’ve lived in this city forever.”

“Not forever. It just feels like that,” Joanna suggested. “We don’t have to live in San Francisco proper to still enjoy what it offers.”

“I guess not.”

“We didn’t really look anywhere else,” Joanna reminded. “Maybe we should.”

Greene wasn’t sure how she felt about that idea. She knew it made sense, but she’d lived in this city since she moved here after college. She had found that magical apartment that she’d loved from moment one. It had been her place. She hadn’t allowed any woman she’d been with to even step foot inside until Joanna. Of course, they’d been friends before they’d started dating. Even after that, though, it always just felt like Joanna had belonged. With the two of them beginning their relationship, the small size of the apartment worked well. It forced them closer together in all things. Greene had assumed the same would happen here. But it wasn’t magical. It hadn’t brought them joy. She wanted to live somewhere that brought both of them joy as they continued to build their life together.


***

“You heading out?” Keira asked.

“Just packing up. Macon and I have an appointment,” Joanna replied.

“Everything okay?” Keira asked, sitting in the bright yellow rolling chair at the next station over from Joanna’s station.

The event planning company Keira owned had that open office space with tables in rows, and employees got a table or station more than an actual desk. Joanna wasn’t technically an employee. Keira sometimes recommended Joanna’s photography services to her clients, giving her a steady income whenever she and Macon were in town, but those clients had been few and far between, given their recent travel schedule. Joanna had to be in town to photograph the events after all.

“We’re reviewing all her offers over dinner tonight,” she answered.

“More tours?” Keira asked.

“Probably.” She slid her laptop into her messenger bag.

“I hardly see you guys as is these days.”

“I know. But she’s a world-renowned violinist; people want her to play everywhere, and they pay her money to do it. They pay for the travel and accommodations. We’ve seen nine countries this year alone.”

“I don’t think I’ve been to nine countries in my life,” Keira said, leaning back in the chair. “I need to talk to Emma. I think we need to take a vacation and leave the country for once. We have beaches here, but the water is always too cold. She won’t go in. It limits the amount of chances I have to see my wife in a bikini.”

Joanna chuckled and said, “Well, if you’re looking for nice beaches… I can make some recommendations. However, if you’re looking for more chances to see your wife on a beach without a bikini, there are a few nude beaches I can recommend.”

“Have you and Greene–”

“Once in France; for about twenty minutes. I sat with my arms around my knees because I was uncomfortable. My wife, on the other hand, ran into the water completely naked. We left when I noticed there were about ten guys leering at her and at least a handful of women, too.”

Keira laughed and said, “Yeah, I don’t know how I feel about Emma’s body being on display like that.”

“Everyone else is naked, too. So, it’s not really a display thing,” Joanna replied.

“Well, I’m not sure I want to see anyone else’s body, either. I am a lesbian, after all. I have no desire to see a bunch of naked men with pot bellies.”

“Or naked women with pot bellies?”

“Exactly. I’ll enjoy my smoking hot wife in the privacy of our own home instead,” Keira said, standing up.

“I bet you will.” Joanna laughed as she slung her bag over her shoulder.

“Drinks tomorrow?” Keira asked.

“I’ll talk to Make,” Joanna replied.

“I’ll talk to Emma.”

“Who’s calling Hill?”

“I’ll text her later,” Keira confirmed.

They left their plan at that, which was their custom. Joanna made her way home, which now required a ride on BART to get there. She missed the days where she’d been able to walk to and from the office, or to Macon’s place from her own before they lived together. It was strange to her that this house, in combination with their travel, had actually pushed them further apart than when they’d lived in two separate apartments.

Joanna loved her wife like crazy. She missed how things used to be, though. It was almost as if the money and opportunities they’d made for themselves had caused some drifting apart instead of pulling them closer together. She knew Macon was talented and that people wanted to see her play the world over. But, sometimes, she just wanted her wife to herself, in a home that suited their wants and their needs.

“Hey, babe. I’m home.” She placed her laptop bag next to the small table in the foyer.

“In the kitchen,” Macon replied.

Joanna made her way in the direction of the kitchen, wondering why they’d bought a place with a closed off kitchen. They’d both wanted something more open. But this place was available, and the price was right. They’d made some compromises. They’d been so tired when they’d seen it the first time. She wished they could go back in time and rethink the purchase. Maybe they could talk about that tonight, too.

“Okay. I need to talk to my wife first,” Macon said into her phone as Joanna leaned against the wall next to the refrigerator. “By the end of the week? That’s only three days,” she added. “I understand. Okay.”

“Where are we going now?” Joanna asked as she crossed her arms over her chest and let out a deep sigh.

“Sydney,” Macon replied, placing her phone on the counter next to the stove.

“When do we leave?”

“No, Jo. It’s not like that,” Macon returned. She stirred something in a deep pot that smelled delicious. Then, she turned the heat down. “It’s not for a tour. It’s to stay.”

“Stay?” She uncrossed her arms.

“Jo, they want to offer me a permanent spot at the Sydney Opera House, as well as heading up their young composers’ program,” she replied.

“Permanent?”

“They said they emailed me all the information.”

“But permanent?”

“Yes,” Macon told her, moving into her space. “Jo, I can say no. I will say no. I got the call right before you got here, so it hasn’t sunk in for me, either.”

“Babe, we can’t move to Australia.”

“Okay,” Macon replied instantly as she ran her hands up and down Joanna’s arms, trying to get her to loosen up. “I’ll tell them no. It’s not a problem.”

“Do you want to move to Australia, Make?” she asked.

“I have no idea.” Macon smiled at her, and it melted Joanna.

“Babe, be honest.”

“I am being honest. I’ve never planned on living anywhere other than here. I pretty much freaked out when you suggested we live outside the city. This is the other side of the world,” she returned.

“It is,” Joanna confirmed for some reason.

“It comes with some perks. They’re in the email. Do you at least want to look at it while we review the other offers?”

“I guess we should,” Joanna replied.

“Dinner will be about another hour. Want to take a look now or after you get settled?”

“Let me change into something more comfortable.”

“Can I suggest that little black number?” Macon asked with a sexy eyebrow.

“Maybe later.” Joanna gave her shoulder a light punch. “I’ll meet you in the living room.”


***

A shoulder punch? Greene stood in their kitchen, wondering how her wife had just given her a shoulder punch when Greene had suggested Jo put on that black lingerie she’d bought specifically for Greene’s birthday the previous year. They hadn’t had sex in more than two weeks. That was a long time for the two of them. The last time they’d touched each other had been somewhat lackluster due to their travel schedule. They’d had a quickie in the shower before they had to check out of one hotel and travel to another. The orgasm had been pretty nice; her wife’s body pressing her into the shower wall had been amazing. Since then, though, they hadn’t shared an intimate moment. Even their kissing had gotten standard. Jo would peck her on the lips before she left to go to the office or to a shoot. Come to think of it, Jo hadn’t even kissed her hello when she’d gotten home. Greene grunted in frustration. How had they gotten here?

“Ready?” Jo asked as she made her way out of their bedroom, wearing a pair of Greene’s gray sweats and a baggy white t-shirt. It wasn’t her sexiest look ever, but Greene would find that woman sexy if she exited their room rocking out a potato sack and pedicure sandals. “Make?”

“What? Oh, sorry,” she replied, shaking her head from side to side. “Yeah, I’m ready.”

She joined Joanna on the sofa after grabbing her laptop from the dining room table where she’d left it earlier. Her agent had been the one to call and let her know about this new opportunity. She’d been just as surprised as Joanna had obviously been. She opened the computer, clicked on the email app, and opened the newest message in her inbox.

“Okay. Sydney first, I guess,” Joanna said, seemingly disappointed.

“Did you want to look at the others first?”

“No, this is fine.” She leaned back against the sofa.

Greene opened the first of several files that had been attached to the email and read to herself before saying, “The contract is for five years.”

“That’s long,” Joanna replied.

“Longer than most, yeah.” She kept reading. “The pay is generous. Since I’ll be running the young composers’ group as well, they’re throwing in housing, too. Plus, they’ll help with any of the legal paperwork for us to live and work there.”

“Housing?” Joanna leaned forward.

“There are a few places they have for traveling musicians. We’d get one of those, or we could get a stipend to find something else and pay the difference if it’s more than that. The stipend is also very generous.” She saw the number and did some currency calculations in her head based on the last time they’d been there to determine the exchange rate and what it would afford. “Damn, Jo. It’s crazy generous.”

“Yeah?” Joanna rested her chin on Greene’s shoulder to read the document herself. “I don’t know how much houses cost there, though.”

Greene quickly opened her browser and went to get some of that information for herself.

“Okay. Let’s say… a three-bedroom, two and a half baths?”

“Sure.”

“Jo, we could afford that with this stipend and what I’d make there. Plus, you’d be working.”

“That place looks kind of nice,” Jo said, pointing to a picture of a house. “But before we go looking for houses, let’s read the rest of the stuff they sent.”

They went through all the attachments first. Then, Jo calculated what they’d be able to afford with Greene’s salary, the generous stipend, and what she could anticipate making just starting out there as a photographer with no client base. They spent the next hour looking over several real estate sites and maps to get to know the areas where they could live. Jo jumped up to grab them dinner and open a bottle of red wine. They sat close together on the sofa, enjoying their meal and looking at the pictures of houses that they’d moved from Greene’s computer to their large TV so that they could both see. They laughed at the idea of moving to Sydney, at first. But as they finished off the bottle of wine, that laughter had all but died down.

“Near Central Station, Surry Hills, was a working-class area until gentrification in the 80s, which brought in cafés and trendy restaurants. It also has well-known pubs, like Forresters, Dove & Olive, and the Beresford. Lebanese, Vietnamese, and Indian places line Cleveland Street. It’s now known as Sydney’s dining capital,” Jo read from the article she’d found on her phone. “It’s also only about eleven minutes from the Sydney Opera House, depending on traffic. Three and a half kilometers away.”

“Oh, we’d have to get used to that,” Greene replied, wrapping her arm around Joanna’s shoulders and pulling her into her body even more. “Kilometers. What’s the difference again?”

“0.62 miles. So, 2.1 one miles, depending on where we bought. That’s what Google says, anyway.”

“I could technically take a nice walk to work if I wanted.”

“Or get a bike. I assume people bike there, too,” Joanna said.

“I’m sure they do.” Greene kissed her wife’s head, breathing in and loving the scent of her. “What about you? Could you find clients there?”

“I’m sure I could. I assume I’d be doing a lot of beach shoots. The Opera House is right on the water, so I’d be about two miles away from the beach, too. It’s a trendy neighborhood.”

“And that house is nice,” Greene said, pointing to the three-bedroom, three-bathroom house on the big screen.

“It does look nice,” Joanna said.

There was a moment of silence. It was companionable and more than comfortable for Greene. It felt like how it used to feel, when they could share a room and just enjoy being together without needing to say anything at all. Greene almost didn’t want to break the silence for fear they wouldn’t get it back, but she knew she needed to bring it up.

“They want an answer by the end of the week, Jo,” she said softly.

“We can’t decide to move around the world by the end of the week, Make.” Jo moved away from her, which made Greene frown, but her wife only finished her glass of wine and returned to her original position, placing her arm over Greene’s stomach this time, which made Greene smile. “I mean, we’d need to fly out there, see the neighborhood, look at houses, find out if this is something we could even do.”

“What if I told them that?” she asked. “I could tell them we can fly out there without making a commitment.”

“Really?” Joanna lifted up and looked at her with those gorgeous eyes of hers.

“Jo, are we actually considering this? If so, I’ll call my agent right back and tell him we’re booking a flight.” She bit her lower lip. “If not, that’s okay. I’ll–”

“You want this, don’t you?” Jo interjected, sitting up more to face her. “Make, do you want this?”

Greene considered how best to respond. As always, in a relationship, it wasn’t just about what one person wanted. It had to be – at least to some degree – what both people wanted. When it came to moving across the world and starting over completely, both of them had to want this, or it wouldn’t work. And she would never risk her marriage for a career move.

“I hadn’t thought about it until the moment I got the offer,” Greene replied honestly.

“But now?”

“It’s one place for at least five years. There’d be no more tours. I’d be teaching young composers. I’d be playing at one of the best places in the world for music. And there are about a thousand beaches close by, where you and I could relax. We could spend Sunday mornings lounging in bed, or we could go to one of those trendy cafés you mentioned. It’s beautiful there, Jo. Maybe this kind of change is what we need. Maybe we shouldn’t look at a place outside the city or go over the offers I’ve gotten to run around the world playing music, when we’re both exhausted from all that. What if this is what we’re supposed to do?” she asked, swallowing hard as she stared into her wife’s eyes. “If you say no, it’s okay, Jo. It’s a lot. I know that. If it’s a no, that’s–”

Joanna moved quickly, straddling her hips. Greene hadn’t been prepared for that, but she moved her hands around Jo’s waist to hold her in place.

“Do you want this?” Joanna asked as she leaned down; her lips were hovering just over Greene’s.

“I want to fly there with you,” she said, moving into those lips as she did. “And see if this is the best next step for us. I love you so much, Jo. You have no idea how much. I miss–”

“Me too,” Jo interrupted again and kissed her.

Greene’s hand moved under the baggy shirt to get to her wife’s skin. She kissed her long and hard, earning a moan from Joanna as she slid her tongue into the woman’s mouth. They hadn’t been this close in so long. She’d missed it like crazy. She reached for the hem of Jo’s shirt, lifted it, and tossed it aside. Quickly, she took Joanna’s nipple into her mouth, indicating to her wife that she had no intention of stopping what Jo had started.

“I missed you,” Greene said after letting the nipple go with a pop.

“Then, take me to bed, Make,” Jo whispered against her lips a moment later.


***

“You’re going to Sydney this weekend?” Emma asked.

“It’s a quick trip,” Joanna returned. “We’ll be back next Wednesday.”

“But why?” Keira questioned, stealing a sip of Emma’s drink.

“You can get your own, you know?” Emma joked, turning to her wife.

“Why would I do that? Yours tastes great.” Keira winked at her.

“Are you playing for only a few nights?” Hillary asked. “You’re usually gone for longer.”

“It’s two shows,” Macon lied. “Just Sunday and Monday.”

“Why?” Amara asked.

The two women had just returned from their honeymoon, looking totally relaxed and so in love. Joanna smiled as Amara rested her head on Hillary’s shoulder. She specifically smiled at how Hillary shifted Amara’s long auburn braid aside, to make it more comfortable for her new wife.

“They just asked me to do it. They pay for everything, and we haven’t been there in a while,” Macon returned as she gave Joanna’s thigh a long squeeze, asking silently for her help.

“Yeah, it’s quick. We’ll be right back, basically,” Joanna added. “And we’ve only seen a few pictures of this honeymoon you two just went on. What’s that about?”

Macon gave her a short squeeze to the thigh this time, indicating her thanks to Joanna for changing the subject. Hillary passed Amara her phone, knowing Amara would want to show them the pictures she’d taken. Amara’s phone didn’t have the best camera, according to the woman, so most of their pictures were on Hillary’s phone. The six of them sat in their booth and had another round of drinks as they caught up. It made Joanna sad for a moment. She turned to see that Macon was glancing at her with a similar expression. If they did make this move, they would both miss these people a lot.

“We should get going,” Macon said later. “We still had packing to do.”

That wasn’t true; they’d packed earlier. They had a few things to toss into their bags before they left tomorrow, but Joanna didn’t say anything to the group. She knew Macon hated lying to her friends about the potential move. Maybe her wife just wanted to leave so she wouldn’t have to keep up the charade. They’d decided not to say anything until they knew they were going. If they decided against it, there was no need to bring it up with their friends.

They hugged their friends – who all told them to travel safe and bring them back stuffed kangaroos and vegemite – and took a car home in lieu of BART or walking. Joanna kept looking over at her wife, who was oddly quiet. She took Macon’s hand about halfway through the trip, brought it to her lips, and kissed it.

“Are you okay? Are you nervous? Do you not want to go anymore?”

“I’m good.” Macon gave her a sure smile.

The car dropped them off moments later. Macon took her hand and practically rushed her up the stairs.

“Babe, we’re packed already. Why are we running to get home?” She laughed as Macon unlocked the door.

“Because…” Macon opened the door, ushered Joanna through it, closed it behind them, and promptly pressed Joanna up against it, holding her wrists up by her head on the door and smirking at her. “I had you last night for the first time in way too long. As Hillary and Amara talked about their honeymoon, all I could think about was our honeymoon and everything we did together.”

“Oh,” Joanna said smirking back at her. “You want to…”

“Yes.” Macon’s eyes were that amazing electric green, but they were darker now. “I missed you so much, babe. Last night wasn’t nearly enough for me. It never will be.”

“I’d hope so, because you are stuck with me,” she replied. “And exactly which thing from our honeymoon did you want to do tonight?” Joanna knew which thing Macon wanted perfectly well. “You might just have to show me everything so I remember what felt the best.”

“Everything, huh?” Macon whispered as she leaned into her, pressing Joanna’s body against the door. “Our flight is in about fourteen hours.”

“We can take our time then.”

“But we should prioritize, right?” Macon pressed a thigh between Joanna’s legs, earning a hitch in her breathing. “I seem to remember you liked when you were on top of me, and I was wearing–”

“Yes, that,” Joanna interrupted and kissed her.


***

Greene didn’t think; she knew she had the sexiest wife in the world. Joanna was straddling her thighs. Greene’s eyes were flitting between the toy, moving in and out of her wife, and Jo’s breasts, which were bouncing above her. She smirked at the feeling of being able to bring Jo pleasure like this. Her hands were on Jo’s hips as her own hips drove up to meet Joanna’s body moving down. Greene thought she could come any minute just by looking at Jo like this. She thought back to the moment they’d met at Keira’s old place. That was right after Keira and Emma had started dating. Joanna was a straight woman who worked at Emma’s office. They’d clicked instantly, though. Greene had fallen in love with her new best friend but had no hope that Joanna would ever return those feelings. Jo had been the one to press for more when Greene had been too afraid she’d lose that friendship. She’d been so brave to put herself out there; to tell Greene how she felt and then to push Greene to pursue it when she knew Greene felt the same way.

Now, they were married. Greene had made vows to this woman, and Joanna had returned them. They’d traveled the world together, gotten engaged in Florence, and traveled some more. There was something exciting in the air, and only part of it had to do with Greene’s building orgasm at the sound of Joanna’s one above her. This possibility of moving had Greene not only anxious at all the changes that would come if they went through with it, but it made the adrenaline course through her veins. It inspired her, thrilled her, and turned her on like crazy, because it had brought the two of them closer together already.

“God, that felt good,” Joanna said as she collapsed on top of Greene.

“Yes, it did,” she confirmed, pressing her hands into Jo’s back. “Again?” she asked only a second later.

“What about you?” Joanna laughed before she kissed Greene’s neck.

“If you do that again, I’ll come.”

Joanna lifted herself up, stared down at her, and asked, “Oh, yeah?”

“Yes,” Greene confirmed, running her hands up Joanna’s abdomen and covering her breasts as Joanna’s hips moved forward and back. “Like that.”

“Just like this?” Jo asked.

“Yes.” Greene closed her eyes at the well-placed pressure.

“You don’t want me to take this thing off you and climb down your body?” Joanna asked as she rocked slowly. “It’s been too long since I’ve had my mouth on you, Make.”

“Damn, Jo,” Greene let out, moving Joanna’s hips back and forth a little faster.

Joanna stopped moving. She lifted herself up and off Greene, causing Greene to groan at the loss of pressure against her clit, and pulled down the dark green shorts – she’d bought just for her wife because they matched her eyes – with the toy Greene had picked out for her. She let them fall to the floor and looked down at Greene, who spread her legs for her.

Joanna’s teeth sank into Greene’s top lip, and she moved on all fours before she sank down, placed her hands behind Greene’s legs, and pulled her wife against her mouth. She kissed the inside of her thighs first.

“I missed you, too, you know?” she said, kissing Greene again in the same spot.

“Don’t stop until I come?” Greene checked, needing Jo’s lips on her so badly.

“Always, Make.”


***

“I can tell one thing I don’t like about Australia,” Joanna said as she flopped onto the bed in their hotel room.

“What’s that?” Macon asked her, rolling their two bags into the corner.

“The long flight to get here,” Joanna replied, staring up at the ceiling. “God, I feel like I’m a whole year older.”

“You’re about a day older, and still just as hot as you were yesterday,” Macon said as she climbed on top of her, placing her hands on either side of Joanna’s head.

“You seem happier.” Joanna wrapped her arms around Macon’s waist.

“I’m exhausted from the flight, but I’m glad we’re doing this. I guess I just got the feeling that if we didn’t at least check it out, we’d end up regretting it later.”

“That’s kind of how I felt,” she agreed. “Now, I’m tired, but I’m also starving. Should we change out of our now disgusting plane clothes and find one of those amazing restaurants we read about?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Macon replied, kissing her before climbing off entirely and giving Joanna her hands so she could help pull her up off the bed. “Hey, Jo?” she asked when Joanna stood in front of her.

“Make?”

“There’s no one else I’d want to do this with. You know that, right?”

“I do, babe.” She kissed her wife. “Now, let’s go see what this place has to offer, so we can decide if it’s worth packing up our entire life to come here for at least the next five years.”

They made their way to an Indian restaurant, enjoyed a nice meal together, and then walked up and down the main street of the neighborhood. They held hands as they walked, deciding that that should be part of their test of the town. If they couldn’t be themselves here, they couldn’t live here. Macon even pulled on her hand a little and stopped walking so that she could give Joanna a quick kiss. They both looked around after and noticed no one was paying any attention to them, despite the fact that the street was packed with pedestrians. They found a small, independent movie theater and decided to catch a film. They ordered popcorn and candy at the tiny concession stand. Macon wrapped her arm around her when they sat in the theatre and shared their snacks.

When the movie ended, they made their way back to the hotel; exhausted, but still excited about what they’d seen so far of their possible new home. They took a long shower together. Joanna’s exhaustion disappeared the moment she saw Macon pull off her shirt and remove her bra. Macon’s eyebrow lifted when she caught Joanna’s eyes on her still perfect body. When Macon unbuckled her belt and slowly unzipped her jeans, Joanna knew they weren’t getting out of that shower without touching each other.

Later that night, Joanna held Macon in her arms. She pressed a kiss to Macon’s shoulder; not wanting to wake her wife, but also not being able to stop herself from offering Macon the caresses to her soft skin. For the first time in a very long time, they’d gone to sleep naked, with Joanna wrapped around her wife. It was perfect. It was just what they needed to find themselves as a couple again. She never, ever wanted to lose this special part of who they were together. No matter what life held for them, Joanna knew Macon was the one she wanted to go through it with.

The following morning, Macon stirred. Joanna had been awake for a while. She’d never been great with the time differences when they traveled. It was one of the reasons she was always so exhausted when they had to go from country to country.

“How long this time?” Macon asked in a husky tone, indicating she’d only just woken up.

“About an hour,” Joanna answered, kissing her shoulder. “Not as bad as the last time we were here.”

“I think you got adjusted to the time right when we started packing to go back home,” she said as she turned in Joanna’s arms. “Morning.”

“Good morning,” Joanna returned and kissed her forehead.

“I know we still have a lot to think about, Jo.” She ran her hand through Joanna’s hair. “Today, we’re looking at the houses to see if one will work or if we need to find one of our own. And that’s a big deal. We could hate everything we see and decide not to do this.”

“But,” Joanna encouraged, knowing where this was going.

“I liked this place the last time we were here. It’s crazy, right? We’re thinking about moving from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia.”

“It’s crazy, but you want to do it, don’t you?”

“We still need to meet with–”

“I know. You still need to talk to the people with the young composers’ group, and you want to see the houses. And yes, there’s still a lot to think about and process, but you want this, Make. I can tell you do.”

“I do, babe.” Macon wrapped her arm around Joanna’s waist and pulled her into her body.

Joanna closed her eyes at the warmth of it and said, “Then, let’s figure it out.”

“Figure it out?” Macon checked as she kissed Joanna’s chin.

“We’ve got three days left before our flight. Let’s make them count.”

“I love you,” Macon whispered into her ear. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

“It’s not just for you, Make.” Joanna moved to climb on top of her wife. “This is for me, too. I liked it last time we were here. I can find work here. I also think we fit into the crowd here. I saw two gay bars last night alone. That’s promising. There’s a café that looked pretty cool only a few blocks from that house they wanted us to look at first today. We’d have the beaches. We can afford a nice house here instead of a small two-bedroom place that hardly fits all of our stuff. The only problem is that I know we’ll miss our friends.” She stared down at Macon.

“We’ll just have to deal with that long-ass flight a lot then, to go back and see them,” Macon suggested.

“They won’t take this well. You know that, right?”

“Keira will have the biggest problem with it,” Macon said, running her hands up and down Joanna’s back. “Hill will be happy for us. She’ll miss us, but she and Amara are finally married. They’re starting this whole new chapter of their lives now. Keira has Emma now. Emma’s her best friend in the way that you’re mine. Keira will be fine. It’ll just take some time.”

“We could fly them out here one day. She was just saying she wanted to get out of the country; preferably, to a beach with her wife. It could be a big birthday present or an anniversary present we give them or something. They could stay with us, so it would only be the flights.”

“You’re already trying to find ways to make this work.” Macon smiled up at her.

“Because I think we both want it to work.”

“Then, let’s get dressed, grab some breakfast at that café to check it out, and meet the realtor to see if we can.” She kissed Joanna’s lips.


***

“How are we going to tell them?” Jo asked her.

“Carefully,” Greene replied.

“I’m serious, Make.” Jo laughed, which made Greene smile.

“I know you are. I just don’t have the answer,” she returned. “They’re our friends, Jo. They want us to be happy. This will make us happy.”

“And if it doesn’t? If we’re wrong?”

“Then, I try to get out of my contract. Or, at worst, we wait the five years and come back. It seems like a long time, but it won’t be. At least we’ll be together no matter what.”

“That sounds nice,” Jo said.

“You know what sounds nice?” Greene asked as she slid down Jo’s body.

“Babe, we basically haven’t stopped having sex since we got here.” She giggled.

“That’s not true.” Greene kissed her stomach. “We spent all last night out and about.”

“We had dinner and went to a movie. Then, we came back here and had sex.”

“Yes, that sounds like a great date night to me.” She kissed Jo’s right hip bone.

“And this morning before we left?”

“A great morning after,” Greene said, kissing her wife just below her belly button. “And we spent the entire day exploring and viewing houses.”

“We came back here and had more sex,” Joanna said with another giggle as Greene slid her tongue around that belly button.

“Are you complaining?”

“No. I guess I’m just wondering what’s gotten into us all of a sudden.” Joanna’s hand went to the back of Greene’s head when Greene moved a little lower and kissed her pubic bone. “Oh,” she added softly and closed her eyes.

“We missed each other, Jo.” She kissed the inside of her thigh. “We finally admitted that we weren’t completely happy with our life.” She kissed a spot just a little closer to Joanna’s center. “And that, honestly, got us here. It’s exciting and scary, and all I want to do is celebrate this amazing thing with the woman I love more than anything.” She looked up and met Joanna’s eyes as the woman opened them to look back down at Greene. “She’s my soulmate; the one person I was supposed to do all this with. I’ve been neglecting her lately.”

“We’ve been neglecting each other,” Joanna corrected and cupped Greene’s cheek.

“No more,” Greene told her.

“No more, Make.”

Greene slid her tongue through Joanna’s folds, loving the taste of her wife on her tongue, the warmth of her body beneath her own, and the sounds of Jo’s gasps as Greene took her slowly. She slid two fingers inside her wife just as Jo came from the touch of Greene’s tongue to her clit. Joanna came again when Greene thrust fast and hard inside her. When she finally came down, Greene moved beside her and wrapped an arm over Jo’s stomach, laying her head against Jo’s breast. They stayed that way for a long time. Greene drew shapes on Jo’s stomach. Jo played with Greene’s dark hair.

That day, they hadn’t loved any of the three houses available to them after all, but they’d liked one of them enough to stay there until they could finalize buying the fifth house they’d seen that day. It was perfect for the two of them. The previous owner had been an employee of the opera house, which was how they’d found out about it, to begin with. It was a three-bedroom, but one of the bedrooms had been converted into a music studio. Well, not an industry studio or anything, but the walls, the ceiling, and the floor had been soundproofed. Greene didn’t need the equipment inside, but Joanna had insisted they include it in their offer because Macon knew how to use all of it, and maybe she’d find joy creating in her own space.

The other bedroom would be Joanna’s office. She could have a desk, a wall of photos, or turn it into some kind of multimedia space so she could display her photos on a giant screen and edit from there. The walk-in closet could be used as a dark room when she wanted to take photos using her analog camera and develop them herself. Joanna had given up on that when they started traveling heavy, but she’d been excited about the idea of doing it again.


***

Greene woke the following morning in the same position. Jo was still fast asleep, which made her smile. Jo always had such a hard time with these time changes that Greene felt guilty every time they traveled. She’d considered giving up the touring and the guest appearances, but her regular paycheck in San Francisco wouldn’t allow them to save money. Jo’s photography business had been going well, but being in business for herself often meant inconsistent amounts of money going into their bank account. The travel was grueling at times, but it afforded them a place in a safe neighborhood in a very expensive city.

“Morning,” Joanna said groggily.

“Hey, you outslept me this morning,” Greene replied.

“I guess I did.”

“Sydney agrees with you.” She kissed Jo’s breast.

“I hope so, babe. We’re about to move here.”

That was the moment Greene knew for certain that they were making this move. They’d talked about it. They’d considered where they’d live, how often they could return to visit their friends and families, and how they could afford it all. However, they’d yet to officially say yes to the position and everything that came with it. There was still a chance Jo would change her mind. One thing Greene knew about her wife, though, was that she was always honest when she was either very tired or half-asleep. The woman was probably a little of both right now, which made Greene smile. She knew Jo’s sleepy voice well. Jo was in. They were moving to Australia.


***

“I’m sorry. You’re what?” Keira asked.

“Moving to Sydney,” Macon told her.

“Sydney, California? Is there a Sydney, California?” she asked Emma, turning her head to her wife.

“I don’t know.” Emma shrugged. “But I don’t think they’re talking about California, Key.”

“Australia.” Joanna picked up her wine glass and took a drink, trying to find something else to focus on.

They’d had a long week. She was tired just from the decisions that they’d had to make, let alone the flights to and from another continent. Greene had signed the contract. They’d picked the house they would live in temporarily while they worked out how to buy the other. They’d put their San Francisco place on the market, and in just two days, they’d had three offers. The city’s market was amazing for sellers looking to get out. And they had accepted the highest offer, which was just above asking price. The close date was thirty days from now, which gave them barely enough time to plan their move, spend time with their friends and family, and get all the legalities worked out for a move to another country. Macon’s new employer was incredibly helpful, but they still had to do a lot of the work themselves.

Tonight wasn’t about all of that, though. It was about telling their closest friends that they’d soon be leaving. They would have invited their friends to their place, but they’d already begun packing, and it was too small to fit all of them anyway, really. They only had the sofa in the living room, which didn’t offer enough seats for everyone. Joanna smiled at the thought of the house they’d planned to live in. Their new living room would have space. They just needed to make some local friends in Sydney to help occupy it, and invite their friends to visit as often as they wanted.

“You’re moving to Australia?” Hillary asked.

“We are,” Macon confirmed. “Soon. We sold the house here already. Well, we close in thirty days, but we’re in escrow, and we’ve got a new place there lined up. I signed the contract, and… Yeah, we’re moving.”

“You’re moving?” Keira checked for the third time with an expression that told Joanna she was going to miss Macon. “Forever? Like, you’re moving?”

“Babe,” Emma consoled, placing a hand on top of Keira’s hand on the table. “They’re moving to Australia. That’s amazing.”

“It is,” Amara agreed. “I’ve never been there. Is it nice?”

“It is,” Joanna said. “We’ve been there before.”

“Twice, actually,” Macon added. “That’s why they called and made me the offer. The last time I was there, I guess the ticket sales were the best they’d been in years. They’re hoping that having me there permanently will have the same effect.”

“It will. You’re the best in the world,” Hillary said with a smile. “It sucks that you’re leaving, though, Greene. Our original After Dark foursome loses another member, Keira.”

“Kellan left a long time ago,” Macon said.

“And you’ve picked up Emma, your wife, and me,” Joanna reminded. “So, it hasn’t been the original foursome in a long time.”

“That’s true.” Hillary nodded slowly. “I guess it’s about time.”

“Time for what?” Keira asked her.

“Well, we’re at those ages, aren’t we?” Hillary asked rhetorically. “We all got married. Some of us are working on having kids. Amara and I just got married and live in the burbs. Keira’s business is about to expand again, possibly to a new city. It’s about time something changed for you two,” she said to Joanna and Macon.

“Things change for them all the time,” Amara replied. “They’re constantly on the go.”

“But this is different, isn’t it?” Hillary asked Macon.

“It is, yes,” she answered, squeezing Joanna’s hand that she’d pulled into her own lap. “We’re not just leaving and coming back all the time anymore. We’re really leaving. If we come back to San Francisco, we’ll either have to stay with one of you or in a hotel. Sydney will be our home.”

“And this is what you want?” Emma asked, still holding on tightly to Keira’s hand.

“Yes,” Macon answered with a wide smile.

“Me too.” Joanna smiled back at her. “We both want this.”

“Then, I’m happy for you,” Hillary said.

“So am I,” Amara added.

Keira didn’t say anything.


***

“Keira?”

“Hey, Greene,” Keira greeted as she stared at Greene through the doorway.

“Can I come in?” Greene asked her.

“Oh, sure. Sorry.” Keira moved out of the way. “I guess I’m just slow today or something.”

“Or something,” Greene returned as they made their way into Keira and Emma’s living room. “Emma here?”

“No, she’s out.” Keira sat on the sofa. “No Joanna?”

“Just me.” Greene sat down next to her friend but left space between them. “Keira, we should talk.”

“About what?”

“About the fact that I know you’re upset that Jo and I are moving,” Greene returned. “It’s been a week since you found out, and you won’t return my calls or texts.”

“I’ve just been busy.”

“Keira, I leave in less than three weeks. I’d like to spend the time we have left here with my best friends and our families. I don’t want to leave things like this with us.”

Keira leaned back against the sofa and said, “You know I’m not mad at you, right?”

“I don’t know what you’re feeling, because you won’t talk to me.”

“Greene, I’m just sad,” she replied. “I’m really, really sad.”

“It’s what we want, Keira. Jo and I, it’s what we want.”

Keira turned her head to Greene and said, “I know. And I really am so happy for you guys. I know the travel thing has been hard on both of you, and this city isn’t always an easy or affordable place to live.”

“Well, it’s never an affordable place to live.”

Keira laughed and said, “That’s a fact.”

“I don’t know how to describe it, but just having this opportunity has reconnected Jo and me.”

“Reconnected?” Keira asked. “So, you’re out of your rut?”

Greene smiled at her friend and confidant, and replied, “Yes, thankfully. I missed my wife, and I was usually standing right next to her.”

“I’m glad. Emma and I have been there a couple of times, and I hate it. I know things in a marriage can’t always be kittens and rainbows, but I hate when she and I are somehow off. I miss her. I miss us when that happens.”

“That’s how I felt,” Greene confirmed. “But since we made this decision, it’s like we’re back to being us again. We won’t be traveling like crazy, so we’ll have time to come back and visit you guys. I’ll get to play, but I’ll also be able to work with young musicians, which is something I’ve loved doing almost as long as I’ve loved playing.”

“How do your parents feel about this?” Keira asked.

“Mine are less than enthused, but they get that it’s not their decision. Jo’s are still trying to get her to divorce me, I think,” she joked. “But they seemed excited about coming for a visit and staying with us.”

“God, I’m sorry.”

“I know, right?” Greene chuckled. “They’re not all that bad.”

“But they do secretly still wish you had a penis.”

“Not so secretly, but yes.”

They laughed together for a moment, and then they were silent.

“I’m going to miss this, Greene. I love my wife, don’t get me wrong. She’s my best friend. But, so are you, you know?”

“I know. And you’re mine, too,” she returned. “But we’ll figure it out. We can still call and text.”

“The time difference isn’t exactly great.”

“We’ll make it work.” She shrugged. “We texted when Jo and I were over there on tour.”

“But I knew you were coming back. This is different.”

“I know.” Greene lowered her head. “It’s what’s best for me, for Jo, and for our marriage, though, Keira.”

“And I will throw you the best going away party ever, Greene. You know I support you in this, right?”

“I do.”

“Then, just give me another couple of days to wallow in the fact that my best friend of, like, a million years is leaving San Francisco, and then we’ll start planning your kick-ass party.”

“Deal.” Greene chuckled at her.

“Do you want to grab some dinner later? Emma’s at a work thing tonight.”

“Jo’s shooting a wedding tonight, so I have no plans. What do you want?”

“You know what tonight is, don’t you?” Keira asked, appearing to realize something in that moment.

“No. What?”

“It’s Thursday,” Keira said.

“So?”

“So, call Hill. I’ll get the tickets.”

Greene smiled when she figured it out.


***

“You guys are lucky my wife doesn’t offend easily when she’s told she isn’t invited to things,” Hillary said as she approached the Exploratorium.

“I was just thinking about how lucky we were that Kellan was able to catch a flight,” Keira said.

“Kell’s coming?” Greene asked, looking at Keira as they stood outside the building.

“Tahoe isn’t that far away. There are several flights from there to SFO daily. I called her and told her this was the last After Dark night that we’d all be able to go to because Hillary and Amara are going to some convention next week. Emma and I are out of town the next, visiting my parents for a long weekend. And you and Jo are leaving after that.” She paused for a moment, appearing saddened by the thought. “Kell caught a flight out a couple of hours ago. She’ll be here–”

“Now,” Hillary said, pointing to the car that just pulled up at the curb.

“Holy shit,” Greene walked toward Kellan Cobb, who slid a backpack over her shoulders and smiled when she saw her. “I can’t believe you just jumped on a plane.”

“I can’t believe you are moving to Australia,” Kellan returned, hugging Greene. “Hey, Hill.”

“Hey, Kell. I know you were just here for the wedding a few weeks ago, but it’s still good to see you. How long are you staying?”

“Just tonight. I have to head home on the first flight. I have patients tomorrow. I didn’t have time to cancel appointments.”

“Thanks for being here,” Greene told her.

“It’s our last After Dark for a long time, huh?” Kellan said.

“Should we go inside and see if Indy is still slinging drinks and trying to pick up girls?” Keira joked.

“God, that seems like so long ago. Didn’t she hit on you one time?” Greene asked Keira.

“Oh, it was more than one time,” Keira said.


***

“Did you guys have fun?” Joanna asked.

“We did. I wish you were there, though.”

“No, you don’t. You’re about to be stuck with me in a new country where you have no friends. You’re about to be annoyed with how much time you spend with me. It’s good you had time with them.”

“Jo, I’m never annoyed with how much time I get to spend with you. And we’ll make friends.”

“I know we will.” She smiled over at her wife.

“Keira’s throwing us a going away party, by the way,” Macon told her.

“I’d expect nothing less. How is she feeling about us leaving now?”

“She’s still sad, but I think the talk helped.”

“We should try to find the time where she and Emma can come visit and line it up before we go. That’ll help, too,” Joanna suggested.

“True. How about we take, like, six months or so just to get settled in, and they come after that?”

“Sounds good to me. We can learn about all the good restaurants and find out which ones to avoid. Emma’s pretty picky about the food she likes.”

“I swear she’s gotten pickier over the years,” Macon agreed and laughed. “She would not like that Indian place.”

“No, she wouldn’t. Hillary would, though.”

“Amara might, too.”

“We could always invite them all.”

“We won’t have any guest rooms.”

“We can put a pull-out in my office, and we can get one for the living room,” she said.

“We can put one in the studio, Jo. You don’t need to give up your office space for that. I don’t need that much room to play the violin.”

“Pull-outs in all three rooms, then. And we’ll invite Kellan and Reese, too,” Joanna suggested.

“God. That’s a full house.”

“A house full of our friends in our new city.”

“New country,” Macon added.

“New adventure.”

“New life together.”

“I can’t wait,” Joanna said with a smile as Macon climbed on top of her.

“Neither can I.” Macon sat up, straddling her hips. She lifted her shirt up and off, tossing it on the bed beside them. “Now, we have several long days ahead of us. We’re going to be exhausted, trying to wrap everything up around here. Then, we have that hellish flight. We’ll have to finish the move after that.” She removed her own bra. “I think tonight should just be about us.”

“You do, do you?” Jo teased, reaching for Macon’s button and zipper.

“I do, yes.”


***

“What time is she calling again?” Jo asked.

“She said one,” Greene confirmed. “That’s about five minutes from now. She said Emma would be home by then.”

“And that’s what time for them?”

“Seven,” Greene said. “But it’s seven yesterday.”

“God, that’s going to take some getting used to.” Jo sat down next to her on their new sofa.

“We’ve been here for three months, babe.” Greene winked at her.

“Yeah? What’s the temperature outside right now, in Fahrenheit?”

“You know I hate Celsius,” Greene returned with a glare.

Joanna chuckled at her and said, “I know you do.”

“Hey, Jo?”

“Yes, Macon?” Jo ran her hand through Greene’s hair.

“We’ve been here long enough to know if we like it enough to stay, I think.”

“I guess so.” Jo shrugged a shoulder.

“Do you?”

“Do I like it here?”

“Yes, do you like it here?”

“Make, I love it here.” Joanna leaned in and kissed her cheek. “I have new clients. I get to go to the beach whenever I want. And my sexy wife gets to come, too. She even wears a bikini sometimes.” She returned Greene’s wink from earlier. “You’re happy here, too, aren’t you?”

“I love it here.” Greene smiled at her wife. “I just wanted to make sure you do.”

“It feels like home, doesn’t it? Our new house and this place – it just feels like home to me.”

“Me too,” Greene agreed.

“That’s the FaceTime sound. Keira’s calling,” Jo said.

“She can wait a minute,” Greene returned.

She then leaned in and kissed her wife. Her real home would always be anywhere Joanna was, but she was so unbelievably happy with their new house, her new job, and their new life together, that she had to kiss her in that very moment. Then, she returned Keira’s FaceTime call and saw two of her best friends on the screen. They all recapped their weeks and talked about what they had coming up. Emma brought up the visit they’d have in the next few months. She was just as excited as Keira about their trip to Sydney. Greene couldn’t wait to see her friends. But after they hung up, she found herself staring at her wife, who was making them a late lunch, and she knew that no matter where they were in the world, she would always find a way to be happy with that brave woman over there.

Joanna had been the one to get them to open up about their feelings. She’d pushed Greene all those years ago to give them a chance. She’d come out to her parents and didn’t let them tell her how to live her life. She’d followed Greene around the world, never complaining about the toll it had taken on her. Now, she’d moved to a different country, set up a brand-new photography business, and supported Greene every day. Greene could only hope she was giving Jo enough support in return.

“I put vegemite on yours,” Jo said as she sat back down on the sofa next to Greene, passing her a plate with a sandwich on it.

“Gross. Why?”

“I’m kidding,” Joanna replied as she laughed. “Babe, I know how much you hate that stuff.”

“Hey, Jo?”

“Another deep question about my happiness, Make?” she teased her wife.

“I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”

Joanna smiled back and said, “Good. I love you, too.” She nodded toward Greene’s sandwich. “Now, eat your vegemite.”

“Wait. What?”


Continue reading: After… Checking the Right Box