Tammy made an effort to normalize the situation between her and Gil as best she could - at least when the girls were present - but there was still an unspoken weirdness that lingered between her and Gil whenever they were together.
Gil felt bad about that twist of fate and he tried not to feel slighted when Tammy declined his offers to do something together when the girls were otherwise occupied.
"You know, being mostly a weekend Dad only, I've learned to take things a little less seriously than I did in the past," Gil told Tammy one night as they sat at a picnic table eating ice cream cones while the girls hung out with some friends by the swings. "I need to value every moment, not sweat the small stuff, relax, let things go that aren't important, and appreciate and enjoy life as it comes."
"Look, Gil, you're a nice guy," Tammy said with a sad sigh. "You have a great personality, a good sense of humor, and you've been very nice to me and Stella these past several months."
"But?" Gil asked, knowing there was something else coming.
"I'm a widow," she said. "I miss my husband. I'm committed to him. My first responsibility is to Stella."
"I know that," Gil replied. "But you have a responsibility to yourself too. You're going to have to step through that doorway sooner or later."
"I don't want to," she revealed. "And I don't think I can ever forgive you either."
"Because I intruded on you," he said knowingly.
"You can't imagine how humiliated I feel," she said quietly. "How ashamed. How violated."
"I'm sorry that happened," Gil said. "I'm sorry I wrecked our friendship."
Stella and Amy returned from the swings before Tammy could respond and that was the end of that conversation.
A few days later, Gil came home from his overnight shift. He was standing in his kitchen when he heard a knock on the door. He glanced that way and was surprised to see Tammy standing on the back step, wearing her morning robe and bunny slippers. Summer had waned and Stella was back in school.
"Can I come in?" Tammy wanted to know.
"My door is always open to you," Gil let her know. "Please, step through the threshold."
"I took a personal day," Tammy reported as she came through the door.
Gil nodded his head in acknowledgement. "Is everything okay?" He asked.
"No," she sighed sadly. "Everything's messed up."
"Something happen with Stella?" He asked with concern.
"I was talking about us, Gil," Tammy sighed with frustration.
"Oh," he said awkwardly.
"This is very confusing for me," Tammy explained as she stepped closer to him.
"What do you mean?" Gil asked.
Tammy smiled and leaned into him, planting a kiss on his lips.
"What's that for?" He asked, slightly confused.
"I don't want to be alone anymore," Tammy admitted openly, wrapping her arms around Gil's neck and looking into his eyes. "I tend to do crazy things when I'm alone," she added with a sheepish look on her face.
Gil smiled and kissed her. "Are you ready to step through the door?" He asked.
"Yes," she answered, unexpectedly sticking her tongue into his mouth as they stood in kitchen making out with surprising passion and want.
Gil dared to slip his hand inside the fold of Tammy's silk robe and he was surprised to find her bra-less breast which he gave an affectionate squeeze. Tammy moaned in response and Gil took that as permission to gently fondle her breasts and nipples, the robe falling open enough for him to see what lay in wait.
He unwrapped her robe and it fell open to reveal her naked beauty. He slid the robe off her shoulders and it fell to the floor. Tammy broke from the kissing and she looked into his eyes.
"I was so humiliated and embarrassed that day," she admitted with shame. "I've been so lonely for so long," she sighed with resignation.
"I've been thinking of you like this ever since that day," Gil told her in an excited whisper. "I've been waiting for you to express an interest in me."
"I needed time," she confessed. "Because of Bill."
"I thought you hated me."
"I was mortified," she admitted.
"Don't be," he pleaded.
"Can I have a key to your place?" She asked hopefully.
He laughed and kissed her warmly.
"Remember when you said when one door closes, another one opens?" Tammy asked.
"Yes" Gil replied. "But I never expected it to open quite so wide."
Tammy smiled, took his hand and led him toward the stairs and his bedroom.