"I can't do this." Helen tried to keep her voice steady, but it was nearly impossible. She hoped the strain would be covered by the sound of the waves crashing below them, but Aline knew her too well. She could sense when Helen was upset, even when she was trying hard not to show it.
"Baby." Aline moved closer, wrapping her arms around Helen, brushing her lips softly with her own. "You can. You can do anything."
Helen relaxed into her wife’s arms. When she’d first met Aline she’d thought the other girl was taller than she was, but she’d realized later it was the way Aline held herself, arrow-straight. The Consul, her mother, held herself the same way, and with the same pride — not that either of them was arrogant, but the word seemed a shade closer to what Helen imagined than simple confidence. She remembered the first love note Aline had ever written her. The curves of your lips rewrite history. The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. Later, she’d found out it was an Oscar Wilde quote, and had said to Aline, smiling, You’ve got a lot of nerve.
Aline had looked back at her steadily. "I know. I do."
They both had, always, and it had stood them in good stead. But this —
"This is different," Helen said. "They don't want me here –"
"They do want you here."
"They barely know me," Helen said. "That's worse."