Degrees of Happiness

by Angelina

The warm smell of cinnamon and apples filled the kitchen. Rex wandered in, following the scent, to find his wife removing a tray of freshly baked muffins from the oven. He watched as she carried them over to the table and started transferring them to a cooling tray. He moved in behind her, placing his chin on her shoulder and his arms around her waist, pulling her back against his body. He placed a gently kiss on her neck, she turned to meet his lips with hers. His hand sneaked out and grabbed a muffin, pulling back and laughing as Bree tried to swat him away.

“Hey! Those aren’t for you. They’re for our new neighbours.”

“C’mon, you wouldn’t begrudge me one little muffin would you?”

He smiled, ducking his head and looking up at her with big imploring eyes. She shook her head and pushed him away affectionately.

“Honestly, you’re worse than the kids.”

Rex leaned back against the counter, eating his muffin.

“So, did you meet the new people yet?”

“No. I think most of their things were moved in yesterday. But a couple arrived in a car this morning so I would assume that they’ve officially moved in now. I saw the man but I didn’t get a proper look at the woman. Anyway, you’ll meet them today when we take over my welcome basket. They most likely won’t have time to stop and eat so I’ve made them some things they can snack on.”

“Well, aren’t you the perfect little Welcome Wagon? Do I have to come?”

“Yes. We only have to drop by for a few minutes to say hello and introduce ourselves. We won’t stay long.”

Bree finished packing the still warm muffins into a basket just as a high-pitched wailing started in the back yard. Bree and Rex both rushed to the window to see Danielle sitting on the ground crying. They both ran outside. Bree was the first to reach her and was relieved to find no obvious sing of the calamitous injury that the noise level had suggested. She cupped her daughter’s tear stained face, brushing a few strands of hair away from wet cheeks.

“Sweetie, what is it? What’s the matter?”

Danielle turned her huge, sad eyes towards her mother and started crying harder. Bree gathered the sobbing girl into ther arms and rocked her as Rex stroked her hair. Danielle buried her face into Bree’s sweater. Slowly, her crying eased. She sat up a little and rubbed her eyes. Bree kissed her forehead.

“What happened, Danielle?” Rex asked gently.

The child visibly recoiled and cowered deeper into Bree’s arms.

“I can’t tell you,” she whispered, fearfully.

“Sweetheart, you can tell us anything, you know that.” Bree said, her voice soothing.

“I can’t. Bad stuff will happen.” Danielle’s lower lip began to tremble again.

“Your mommy and I would never let anything bad happen to you, honey, never.”

“But Andrew said…” Danielle’s eyes went wide, as she realised she’d said too much.

“What did Andrew say?” Rex asked sharply. “Danielle, tell me what Andrew said.”

Bree tightened her arms around her daughter, lending the frightened little girl some reassurance.

“He was being mean to me and I said I was going to tell and he said that’d make me a tattletale and that tattletales all go to hell. And then he hit me.” The confession came out in a rush of whispered words. As an afterthought, she held out her arm where a visible handprint was already starting to bruise. Rex took hold of the child’s slender arm and kissed the reddened skin. Bree closed her eyes and shook her head, leaning her cheek against Danielle’s hair.

“I don’t want to go to hell, Daddy.”

Rex took a deep breath to contain his growing anger before speaking.

“Sweetie, you’re not going to hell. Andrew was very bad to tell you that and it’s just not true. I’m going to speak to him about it right now.”

Rex stood and started to walk away. Bree got up awkwardly, still cradling Danielle.

“No, Rex. I’ll speak to him.” She looked at Danielle. “You go into the house with Daddy and he’ll get you a muffin, OK?”

Danielle sniffed and rubbed her arm across her nose, then nodded. Rex came over, giving Bree a pointed look.

“Make sure you let him know this is not acceptable.”

He turned his back.

“Come on, baby, hop on.”

Danielle smiled as Bree transferred her onto Rex’s back. She heard laughter as he romped into the house with her clinging to his neck. She sighed and turned to look for her errant son.


She found him sitting behind the shed, his usual hiding place. She towered over him with her hands on her hips. He didn’t look up. He played with a stick he was holding.


He continued to keep his eyes down.

“Andrew, what did you do to your sister?”


“Don’t lie to me, Andrew, it’ll only make it worse.”

“She’s such a baby, always running to tell.”

Bree leaned down quickly and grabbed Andrew’s elbow, dragging him into a standing position. He looked up in shock, Bree caught his chin, keeping his eyes on her.

“If you ever scare your sister again, if you ever hit her again, you will be a very sorry little boy. Do you understand me?” Bree didn’t blink as she stared down the obstinate 10 year old.

“Do you understand, Andrew?”

He regarded her a moment longer before dropping his eyes.


“There is to be no talk of hell. You do not understand enough about such things to talk about them.”

Bree let go of his chin and stood back up. She turned and walked away, leaving him to think about his actions.


“I should probably stay with them, I don’t think we should leave them with Mrs McCluskey after what happened this afternoon.”

Bree shook her head. And took Rex’s arm as they crossed the street.

“No, they’ll be fine. We’ll only be a few minutes. And I think Andrew will probably spend the afternoon sulking, so that should keep him out of mischief.”

“I still think you should have spanked him. I would have.”

“So what do you think I should have said? Hitting your sister is wrong, now I’m going to hit you? Spanking has its place. That wasn’t it.”

They had reached the door to their new neighbours’ house. It was open. Bree knocked on the frame.

“Hello? Is anyone home?”

A man popped his head out of the living room and smiled widely at them. He came out, wiping dusty hands on his trousers before holding one out to introduce himself.

“Hey there. You must be our neighbours. Tom Scavo.”

Rex shook his hand firmly.

“Rex Van De Kamp. This is my wife, Bree.”

Bree shook hands with Tom.

“We brought over some snacks, I know you must be just run off your feet today.”

“Wow, that’s so thoughtful of you. My wife’s in the kitchen, you can go give her the food if you like, and maybe you can stop her from lifting heavy stuff for five minutes.”

He raised his voice deliberately for the last part of the sentence. An answering voice floated out of the kitchen.

“I’m not an invalid, honey, I’m pregnant.”

Tom looked at Bree and Rex, giving them a ‘what can you do’ shrug.

“You need a hand with any of the heavy lifting?” Rex offered.

Tom’s face brightened.

“That’d be great, if it’s not too much trouble. There’s some boxes you could help me get upstairs. I kinda hid them in case my wife insisted on lifting them with me.”

Bree watched Rex follow Tom into the dining room and then made her own way into the kitchen. There were boxes on every surface, some empty, some half unpacked, some untouched. She stepped over a coffee maker and placed her basket on a small space she managed to clear on the kitchen table.


The exclamation drew Bree’s attention to a figure crouched next to a cupboard. A blonde woman was rubbing her head and leaning heavily on the counter as she stood up.

“Oh, did you bang your head?”

“Yeah, it was stupid of me, I just…”

As she turned around and their eyes met she fell silent. The women stood looking at each other for several long seconds before either spoke.

“Bree? Bree Mason?”

Bree found she couldn’t reply. Her throat had suddenly become very dry. Blood rushed in her ears and she reached back with a hand to steady herself on the table. Standing in front of her was a part of her past that she’d done her damndest to forget, to deny, to erase from her memory. But here she was, flesh and blood. And still beautiful.


She approached the bar with a mixture of dread and relief. For months, perhaps years, she had experienced feelings that she’d tried to push away and hide. She had sworn never to act upon them. And yet now she found herself in a strange city, going into a gay bar.

Being an active member of the ‘Young Republicans’ had its advantages. Out of town conferences were one of them. This one was a ruse. A cover story. In reality, she just wanted to find out, once and for all, what these feelings were all about. She was twenty-one and engaged. She should not be here. She pushed open the door and stepped inside.


Bree continued to stare mutely. Lynette took a step towards her and she physically jumped back, bumping into the table. Lynette stopped. She tilted her head and gave Bree a lopsided smile.

“OK…so obviously you remember me.


Bree had been sitting alone at the bar for almost an hour. She had never felt so confused in her life. She didn’t want to be there, and yet she could not bring herself to leave. Every time she thought someone might be about to talk to her she felt acute terror grip her stomach.

“First time?”

The voice behind her shoulder made her jump and she turned in her seat to meet the source of it. She hadn’t been aware of anyone approaching her. Her eyes fell upon a young woman, with blonde hair. Her eyes were such a soft shade of blue, and Bree felt at ease almost instantly when she looked into them. The woman held out her hand.

“I’m Lynette.”

Bree regarded the outstretched hand for a split second before reaching out to grip it firmly, attempting to portray some semblance of confidence.


Lynette moved in and leaned on the bar, next to Bree. Bree looked down into her drink, unable to think of anything other than how pretty Lynette was.

“So…is it?”

Bree looked over at her, confused by the bizarre question. Lynette bumped her shoulder in a friendly, yet strangely intimate gesture.

“Is it your first time here?”

Bree smiled, ruefully.

“Yes. I guess that’s pretty obvious huh?”

Lynette shrugged.

“Well, considering you’re the only person in here who looks more scared than I feel, I thought it was a pretty safe bet.”

Bree was taken aback by the admission.

“So…is this…have you never…”

Lynette shook her head.

“Nope, so I guess we’re two newbies together…this could be interesting. Hey! Can we get some service over here?”

Bree watched as Lynette ordered drinks for the two of them and found herself liking this woman. Liking her a lot.


“Bree…look, could you maybe say something? You’re really freaking me out here.”

Bree closed her eyes and tried to summon up the mental capacity to form words and utter them.

“I brought muffins.”


They talked for hours, discovering that they were pretty much diametric opposites of each other. Bree was an Arts major, Lynette was all business. Bree was a republican, Lynette was a democrat. Bree liked cats, Lynette liked dogs. But for some reason, they enjoyed each others company. They argued, debated, laughed and drank the night away.

When they left the bar Bree stumbled slightly as she misjudged a step. Lynette reached out to steady her and somehow ended up with her back against the wall and Bree leaning heavily against her, face hidden in Lynette’s shoulder, giggling. Lynette’s hands rested lightly on Bree’s hips Slowly, Bree turned her face and pressed a soft kiss to Lynette’s cheek. Lynette’s eyes closed as she felt Bree’s lips tentatively touch her own. The kiss continued hesitantly at first, neither wanting to push it, and both scared of doing so.

When Lynette’s tongue ghosted over Bree’s lips she pulled away abruptly, surprised.

“I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to…”

Further speech was prevented when Bree leaned back in to forcefully capture Lynette’s mouth, alcohol and previously unknown depths of desire fuelling the passion she infused into the embrace. Lynette’s lips parted to accommodate Bree’s questing tongue, meeting it with her own. When they parted, they were both breathing heavily. Bree tried desperately to process her reactions to Lynette’s touches, but she couldn’t equate them with anything she’d ever felt. She shivered.

Lynette pulled her closer.

“My apartment is a few blocks over.”

Bree raised her head, ready to decline, to make her excuses and return to her hotel room. Then she looked into those blue eyes and in the distance she heard her own voice.

“Let’s go.”


Bree picked up the basket from the table by way of explanation.

“Muffins…I brought them…for you. And your husband.”

Lynette took the basket. Their fingers touched briefly and Bree jerked her hand away. The feel of Lynette’s skin touching hers was too real, too visceral, too evocative.


The white sheet twisted in Bree’s vice like grip. Her body was alive. Lynette’s hands were gentle and confident on her. Their bodies moved together to a rhythm neither of them could hear, but both of them could feel. Lynette’s lips trailed hot kisses over Bree’s face and neck, driving her higher and higher.

Lynette splayed her hand over Bree’s stomach, she paused to feel the tight muscles working under her touch. She raised herself up so she could watch Bree’s face. Slowly her hand slid downwards over slick skin, coming to rest at the apex of Bree’s thighs. She watched, fascinated, as Bree’s whole body jerked at the first contact of fingers to enflamed skin. Continuing her gentle ministrations, Lynette felt her heart constrict with emotion as Bree’s face contorted in a strange mixture of pain and rapture.

Bree thought she might die from the sheer force of the passion she felt when this woman touched her. All of her control was long gone as she felt the tension building and building inside of her.

“Please…please Lynette…please…”

Lynette leaned down and brought their lips together even as she answered Bree’s plea. Bree gasped against Lynette’s mouth, her body rising up to meet Lynette’s hand, needing the contact, needing Lynette.

She sank back down, panting and clinging to Lynette’s neck.

And she cried.


Lynette turned away to place the basket somewhere, a little shaken by the contact herself. She spoke without looking at Bree.

“Well…this is awkward.”

She turned back to face Bree, her eyes unreadable.

“You weren’t there when I woke up.”


A cold blue light was coming in through the window. It was just enough to see by as Bree fumbled for her clothes, trying to be as quiet as possible. She deliberately did not look towards the bed where Lynette lay asleep. Her heart was hurting and her cheeks were wet with tears as she dressed in silence.

Once fully dressed, she walked towards the bed and looked at the woman lying there. Blonde hair was partially covering her face, and Bree leaned in to sweep it aside, wanting to see her features once more. Lynette shifted slightly at her touch and Bree hurriedly stepped away, holding her breath until Lynette settled back down.

Bree turned and left the apartment, tears blurring her vision as she stepped out onto an unfamiliar street in an unfamiliar city, with an all too familiar feeling of loneliness and isolation sitting in her stomach.


The two women continued to regard each other in silence.

“I’m sorry.”

Bree whispered the words. Lynette smiled.

“Me too. It was fun.”

Bree smiled, a genuine smile.

“Yes. Yes it was.”

Voices drifted in from the hall, signalling the return of their husbands. Bree took a deep breath in an attempt to compose herself.

“Rex, this is my wife, Lynette.”

Rex and Lynette shook hands, their proximity to each other rattling Bree slightly.

“And I see you two have become acquainted.” Tom said, as he dug around in Bree’s basket and came up with a muffin.

“Actually, Bree and I met in college.” Lynette looked directly at Bree as she spoke. “It was a debate thing, we were on opposing sides.”

“Wow, small world, huh?” Tom said, putting his arm around Lynette’s shoulders, his warm smile making Bree feel guilty enough to look away.

“Yeah, it is.” Lynette agreed.

“Well,” Bree started, a bright smile in place, “…we don’t want to keep you, I’m sure you have a hundred things to do…”

“A hundred and thirty seven.” Lynette put in, playfully.

Bree blushed.

“Anyway, we’ll leave you to it. I’m sure we’ll see you again soon.”

“Yeah, when we’re settled we’ll have you over for dinner, won’t we sweetie?” Tom squeezed his wife’s shoulder.

“Sure.” Again, Lynette’s attention was all for Bree.

The Scavos showed their new neighbours to the door and waved as they walked over the road to their house. Once inside, Bree immediately went upstairs. She went to the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. She was surprised to see that she looked the same as she had that morning. She had been certain that her guilt showed clearly on her every feature.

She splashed cold water on her face and let it drip off. As she stood looking down into the sink she noticed a dirty mark. She got a cloth and cleaned it off. Then she cleaned the whole sink. Then the bath. The toilet followed. She scrubbed and scrubbed.

Then she moved onto the bedroom. Then the hallway. Then the kitchen.

And then she polished her wedding silver.


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