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What I Did This Summer II

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The little place in East New Orleans had had the same owner since Ashley Tran's family had lived up the street when she was a little girl. They'd gone there with their dad, she'd gone there after Vietnamese cram sessions, and it had wound up the perfect place to talk to her younger sister about something important. It helped that the food was good too. 


"Okay. Here goes." Ashley folded her hands on the table in front of her, met her sister's eyes, and told her the story. "Last summer, I met a very nice, and very interesting, woman-" she caught Agnes's eyes widening, but kept talking anyway, "and...I did a lot of thinking about some things." She traced the rim of her glass with one finger, the better to stop her hands from shaking, as she said, "about how maybe there are some things about myself that I haven't been - honest about. And so I realized that I am a bisexual woman." Confessing this to a teenager to keep Judy's secret safe had been easy by comparison. "I just kept it to myself for a while, but...things have changed, and I want you to know. You're the first person in the family I've told about this." 


Aggie looked at her sister and grinned, reaching across the table to punch her lightly on the arm. "Well, it's about time, idiote," she said affectionately. "Good for you, though." 


Ashley stared at her sister and said, her voice going up slightly. "What do you mean, it's about time?" 


Aggie grinned and began ticking off points on her fingers. "Come on, Ash, I'm not stupid. All that time you used to spend at the gym - rating yourself next to the other girls? The pride parade you took me to because you said it was important to honor everyone in our community who was on the outside? And remember that picture of the Raven you put over your bed when you came back from boarding school?" 


Ashley blanched and said firmly, "That is _not_ why I had that picture of the Raven!" She hadn't realized she'd actually hit the top of the table until she saw people looking - instantly, she quieted and was about to get up before her sister raised her hands in surrender. 


"Okay, okay, jeez," said Agnes. "Sorry. I didn't mean to step on the moment." It was a real apology from her younger sister, and Ashley took it as such. How the hell did she get so smart at nineteen, anyway? "I'm proud of you." She smiled over her iced latte, a contrast to Ashley's cà phê sữa đá, and asked, "So when are we going to meet her?" 


"Meet who?" asked Ashley, starting to wonder who the hell was the detective in the family anyway. 


"Lucky guess," said an annoyingly smug Airman Aggie George-Tran. "But I figured if you actually were coming out to me, you had a reason. You don't normally give a crap about keeping your business to yourself." 


"Yeah, well..." Ashley ran her fingers through her pink-dyed hair and said quietly, "It's a long-distance thing, and it's complicated..." The girl she'd used to babysit as a teenager, the one whose diaper she'd changed and who had once interrupted a date by banging on pots and singing loudly in Franglish, patted her on the hand. 


"It's okay. Your secret is safe with me. You're my grande soeur, remember?" 


Ashley would have firmly denied that she was crying if asked but she wiped her eyes anyway - the arrival of their po'boys luckily interrupting anything more emotional. The two of them ate for a while, talking about nothing, before she went on, "And...I think this is my last year with the agency. It depends on how things go in November." 


That made Aggie's eyes widen for real. "You what?! Jeez, Ash, you're the biggest cop I know. What are you going to do with yourself?" 


Now it was Ashley's turn to grin, even if there was an edge to it. "There's more than two ways to be a cop. You know how I felt about New Orleans cops when I left, and this one...well, there are more important things than protecting VIPs." She caught Aggie's raised eyebrow and grinned. "Definitely not getting into that where anyone can hear us. But there are other things worth protecting too." 


She hesitated while they ate some more, then said, "I know Mom and the rest of you are worried about me on this assignment. I know it's weird, but things really aren't that bad. I mean, I made a...friend," she said, blushing a little and making a distracted gesture in the air, "but...it's been important too. I've found family there." 


"Well...okay," said Aggie, a little doubtfully, "but your girlfriend better not take my room. Bad enough Dad wants to turn it into his fishing gallery." 


Ashley threw a pickle at her. "That is not what I meant!" _Or who._ 

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