Returning home from the restaurant, Max and Chloe headed upstairs after saying good night to Ryan and Vanessa. They had gone out to dinner, to Max’s favorite upscale restaurant, on a rare Thursday evening in celebration of her passing GED results. At the insistence of her mom, Max wore her new laced, pale-pink dress, while Chloe refused to dress up too much. Vanessa took the girls out shopping earlier in the week, and Chloe picked out a teal, flannel plaid dress with different sizes of white and black horizontal and vertical lines.
Closing the door to Max’s upstairs bedroom, Chloe was relieved to finally be able to spend some time alone with her girlfriend. As soon as the door shut, the petite brunette surprisingly shoved her partner against the wall beside the dresser, grabbed her face with both hands, and enthusiastically slid her soft lips across the girl’s mouth. Several passionate moments passed, and Chloe pushed away, inviting a disappointed grunt from her freckled lover.
“Okay, okay, Mad Max. I know I look damn good right now, but I need you to hold your horses. We’ll have plenty of time to… well, do whatever we want. By the way, I’m very proud of you, babe, AND you’re so fucking hot in that pink dress. I just wanna tear if off and… OKAY, stop! Damn.” She took a deep controlled breath and gathered herself. “I need to show you something.”
Chloe reached out a hand, lightly clutching her girlfriend’s and escorted her over to the computer desk. “It’s a big surprise, to be honest, and your dad spent some time helping me with the paperwork and shit. Your parents are super supportive of it… Anyway…”
“What’s going on, Chloe?” Max curiously probed.
“I know Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, but I want this to be my gift to you. I still feel terrible that I missed giving you something special on Christmas, so I’ve been working on this since then.” Chloe rolled out the small desk chair, assisted Max in sitting down, and leaned over to control the mouse. Max quickly tilted her chin up and pulled Chloe’s head down for a quick kiss. “Behave, Max,” she reluctantly demanded. “We need to focus; this is our future.” She noticed the corners of her girlfriend’s mouth curl upward after her last statement.
Chloe wiggled the mouse to close the screen saver, then opened a browser and proceeded to her bookmarks. “Remember when you asked what we’re gonna do next? THIS is what we’re doing next, and for the rest of our lives, I think.” The taller girl took her girlfriend’s hand and guided it down to the mouse. With her own hand still on top of the smaller girl’s, she highlighted the bookmark titled “TOP SECRET.”
“Was I so focused on the GED I didn’t notice this before?” Max asked. “You are very sneaky, Chloe Price.”
“Don’t get mad at the name, I think it’s funny as shit – but also beautiful because I, for one, love your name.” She proudly patted herself on the chest. “Go ahead, open ‘er up.” The brunette double clicked the ‘TOP SECRET’ bookmark, and a browser window popped up leading to a website. In elegant, pink letters trimmed with gold at the top, the website was titled:
MAKING MEMORIES with MAXINE – M3
“Chloe, what is this? And… Maxine?” The photographer’s eyes were wide with wonder.
“Just click around, check it out,” The taller girl nervously snickered looking over the sitting girl’s shoulder. She knew how much time she had put into building the online shop, but she was not sure Max would be happy about it. She recalled a time when her girlfriend was reluctant to enter a contest at Blackwell despite her excellent work. Now that several of her photos were posted online for the world to not only see but purchase, she hoped things would be different.
After searching the site, in silence, for what felt like an eternity, Max spun around to face the sneaky mastermind. “Fuck, say something,” Chloe desperately demanded.
“You did all this?”
“Well, yeah. Your photos are fucking brilliant, dude. And check this out.” She grasped a manilla folder from its hiding spot between two books on the shelf. She opened the folder, revealing its contents. “You are the official business owner of Making Memories with Maxine, LLC, dba M3. It’s sorta a mouthful when you say the whole thing, but I’m just calling it ‘M3’. Ryan helped set up the business and, guess what, you’ve already sold a ton of your pictures – several hundred dollars worth! I’ve been on the socials plugging the shit outta it. I wanted to go live like right now for you, but your dad thought it might help seeing sales already coming through, so we’ve been live for a week.” She paused, waiting for Max’s reaction. “Dude, did I do good?”
“Chloe!” The newly professional photographer shot up and pushed her lover backwards and all the way to the bed, landing face first on top. “You are amazeballs! Of course, you did good.” The smaller girl attacked her girlfriend with an onslaught of kisses.
Marginally pulling her face back, Chloe interjected, “I wasn’t sure if you would be…”
“Besides waking up next to you every day,” Max beamed, cutting Chloe off, “all I’ve ever wanted was for my photography to feel validated. It looks like you’ve made that happen for me. For us. I couldn’t be happier.”
“YEEEEES! I’m so happy you’re happy, because Max, you really do have a talent. I’ll be your manager and we’ll grow an empire!” The tattooed girl manically cackled, with an evil inflection. “Was that a bit much?”
“Maybe,” Max giggled, “but Chloe, this feels perfect. Maybe we can eventually make enough money to move out and start our life together. I never thought my photos would ever really be worth anything. I mean, I hoped, but it feels good to know others value my art. It makes me proud that people are actually spending money on something I’ve created.”
“Goddammit, Max. Your growing confidence is intoxicating. I knew when you found it, you’d be unstoppable… OH!” Chloe jumped up, remembering something important. “I didn’t even tell you the other good news. Actually, it’s GREAT news! When we set up the company, your dad also helped with bank account stuff. Your parents love you so much, Maximus. We have a business account now. They deposited $3,000 for business expenses.”
“Wowser.” Max whispered, apparently in astonishment. “That’s a lot of money.”
“Well, it’s really not a ton for running a business, but it’s a start.” Chloe sat up and plopped down behind her partner, massaging her neck and shoulders, working her way up and down the spine. “I want to run something by you, Max, and I think you should really consider it. Hear me out. We take the money, upgrade your camera situation, and hit the road. Of course, you’ll still fucking crush it with the Polaroid, but when we’re traveling, you can take digital shots too. We can update the store and travel the country together. What do you think?” She knew she was talking fast, but she could barely contain her excitement.
“I would love traveling around with you, Chloe. More adventures for Captain Bluebeard and Long Max Silver, right? God, I love you. And I’ll never get tired of the pirate references. That time in our life means so much to me.” The girls turned and faced each other in the middle of the bed.
“Max, you’re the goop master… and I’m your goopy sidekick. Now, one last surprise before we call it a night and get ready for bed…”
“ANOTHER surprise?” Max interrupted. “Chloe, you’ve already outdone yourself.”
“Well, I know you always dreamed of having your photography in a gallery, and since it’s my life mission to make your dreams come true…”
“Chloe, what did you do?”
“I made a few calls, not taking ‘no’ for an answer… Are you ready?”
Without missing a beat, the hipster responded, “I’m the readiest.”
Chloe paused and bit her lip, locked eyes with her girlfriend, then slowly shook her head. “Max, please. You know I can’t resist you when you talk like that.” She scanned her eyes down and across the brunette’s face, landing at her mouth. The tidal pull of their lips was nearly unbearable.
“It’s been so long, Chloe, I can’t help it.”
“Yeah, way too damn long. But first, I wanted to tell you that we need to leave in a few days. Maxter, your art will be on display for the next three weeks at a gallery in Eugene! Dude, it’s happening. Goddammit, I’m so proud of you. I have emails out to several other galleries too… including, New York!”
“Whoa, Chloe. Slow down, please. That’s amazing and all, but New York? Thank you for the vote of confidence, it means a lot, but can we start slower? New York would be a dream come true, but I’ll need a ton more experience before then. This is all happening so fast.”
“Whatever you want, babe. I just know you’re gonna kill it. And as your official manager, I have to book gigs – keep your ass busy. New York would be lucky to have Max Caulfield step foot in their damn state.”
“Oh, shut up, Chloe. I mean, I love it when you believe in me, but maybe you’re going overboard. What if they don’t like my photos? Or what if they don’t like me?”
“They would be fucking idiots if they didn’t like you. What’s not to like? You’re smart, you’re talented, you’re hot as fuck.” Chloe scooped the girl up and into her arms, carrying her towards the bathroom. “Okay, talk is over. I can’t resist you anymore. Wanna join me in the shower?”
March 12, 2014
Chloe thought it would be a good idea for me to begin writing again since I’ve been having nightmares pretty regularly. There were a couple of months where I either didn’t dream, or just didn’t remember them. Sometimes they involve the dark room and Mark Jefferson, other times I dream about the Watcher and the endless sacrifices and death that came with the previous holders of the rewind power. But the absolute worst nightmares are ones that involve Chloe and bad things happening to her. She thinks if I write more, my mind will eventually be able to sort out the subconscious issues I’m dealing with in my head. Plus, she thinks it’ll be a good idea for me to start blogging about our adventures for the website and writing in my journal will help me get started.
I showed her my entire journal last week. She’s never asked to read it, which is super cool of her. She’s very curious by nature, as I am, but has always valued my privacy in that regard. But I want to share everything with her from now on, even what’s going on inside my head. It was funny watching her laugh when she read my thoughts about our first kiss, if you can really call it that. She dared me kiss her in her bedroom last year, and it shocked her that I actually did it. I sorta wish she would have locked on and kissed me back so I wouldn’t have had to wonder what she felt about me. But I guess everything worked out because we’re together now. She’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
It’s hard to believe Chloe’s a twenty-year-old now. She wanted to go on an adventure for her birthday yesterday, so I took her camping near Big Lookout Mountain and we kayaked on Snake River. It was a ton of fun, we laughed so hard! We made smores by the campfire and just relaxed, enjoying our time together. I took some beautiful shots that are already on the website. I’m loving my new Samsung NX1 camera. It cost a lot of money, but we take extra care of it and the pictures are truly fantastic. Traveling with Chloe and focusing on my photography career feels like a dream come true. After all we’ve been through, I feel like we deserve to be happy, and we are very lucky to be happy together.
My first gallery show was a success. We sold some pieces and met some great people. I’m not sure, but Chloe thinks most of our revenue will come from online sales rather than gallery showings. I’ll let her worry about the financial part and I’ll just work on my art. It means the world to me that people are enjoying my work.
We stayed with Chloe’s aunt in Eugene for a couple of weeks. Dorothy is really her great aunt, and despite her medical condition, she was very hospitable and friendly. It was nice to connect with her, as she told us stories about Joyce when they were younger, causing Chloe to become emotional a few times. We both miss her mom tremendously.
Speaking of Chloe getting emotional, she told me she wished she could get rid of her beautiful tattoo, which was a shocker to me. She was ready to walk out the door and head to a tattoo shop to get it covered, but I stopped her. Though, she does make a good point. She expressed that she wanted to advance in her life, and it was a constant reminder of a much darker time. We’re both still healing, and if she says she wants to get it covered again, I will not stop her.
She received a call from David on her birthday. It seemed to go much better than the last time they spoke. Chloe said he wants to see us and be a part of our life, but she told him she needed more time. He left the town and headed east, so I imagine we’ll meet up with him at some point. David told her that Victoria is still having a really rough time getting past the storm week shit, losing her parents, and her experience in the dark room. Maybe we should reach out to her soon. Despite our differences, I really hope she can move on and build a happy life somehow.
Chloe asked me many times to change my hair. I mean, she doesn’t NOT like it, she just wants me to show more of my face and stop hiding behind my bangs. Her encouragement has really helped me build my confidence. I don’t see us settling down and buying a house or anything any time soon, so I guess I’ll just need to pick a spot, maybe in Idaho, to get my hair cut and styled. Chloe’s hair is more green than blue now. I guess it makes sense that faded blue in strawberry blonde would make green. Sorta like the tattoo, I think the blue hair reminded her of the lonely time she spent before I returned. I gotta be honest, though, I love her new look.
We’re headed to Boise, now, to another gallery. Chloe’s grandparents live in Idaho, so I imagine we’ll drop in for a visit. It’s so great connecting with her relatives and learning about her family history.
There’s no telling where we’ll end up after that. Chloe is handling all the business stuff, and I’m just taking photos and spending as much time with my beautiful girlfriend as possible. All things considered, the storm week (or weeks), and everything surrounding that shit, brought us both closer together. The farther we get from that bleak time, the more I can see the beauty in going through it with my best friend – the love of my life. Knowing what I now know about the yin and the yang stuff, and about our deep connection at the atomic level, it sorta doesn’t matter really. All that matters is we’re Max and Chloe. We’ll always be together. Always!