“Right before I came back to Paris,” Bette said. “Louise brought me here, actually. I think she feared I would waste away back home. Maybe I would have. Maybe she saved my life.” She laid her head into the cradle of the leather wingback and closed her eyes briefly.
Eleanor handed Bette the drink and stood by the fire with her own.
Eleanor didn’t look at Bette. She drank slowly and smoked slowly and stared across the room at the dark windows of the French garden doors.
She could feel Bette’s eyes on her, all the same, and after some moments of silence, she finally met them. “Stay.”
Bette said nothing.
“We can pretend we are only meeting now. Forget the past,” Eleanor suggested.
“You think if we were just meeting now, I would stay?” Bette said. “Because I wouldn’t.”
Eleanor’s cigarette was nearly gone. She tossed the smoldering stub into the cold grate. “Then forgive me the past and stay,” she said.
“Eleanor,” Bette said, “I forgave you years ago. Forgiveness is not the same as trust.”
She rose and stepped to Eleanor’s side, took both her hands and pulled her close.
“But neither is my body the same as my heart,” she said. “I’ll stay if you promise to remember that tomorrow.”
Eleanor knew she would get no better offer from Bette tonight. She took it. “I promise,” she said and Bette let her kiss her and lead her slowly up the stairs.