By Catrina Wolfe
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This story and the characters in it are mine and may not be reproduced in any format without my permission.
Copyright, February 2012. All rights reserved.©
“How are you doing today Danielle?”
“I could kill her,” she fumed as she beat an impatient tattoo on her lap.
“Where’s Alex today?”
“Late, something came up at work what else is new?” she answered angrily.
“Alright, let’s start with just you then, how was your week?”
Danielle stared out the window of the office to the park barely visible downstairs. Dr. Neil waited patiently for an answer. Finally Danielle turned back to face the psychologist with unshed tears sparkling in her eyes.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she finally whispered.
“Do what exactly?” Dr. Neil asked managing to look remote and empathetic at the same time.
Before she could answer the door burst open and a harried looking woman rushed in. Alex was wearing a tailor-made pinstriped business suit that showcased her slender, feminine frame and long legs. Her wavy black hair was pulled back into a neat bun at the base of her swan like neck. Her high cheekbones were pink from exertion and her hazel eyes were bright and sparkling.
“Sorry I’m a little late but I just this minute closed the Warsher deal. We had a little celebration afterwards since no one thought we would still get it,” she said grinning in triumph.
“This.” Danielle said sadly as she looked at the calm woman sitting in the chair opposite her. “I can’t do this.”
Not needing a further explanation the psychologist merely nodded in understanding.
“Congratulations Alex. I hope you don’t mind but we decided to start without you and I believe your partner has come to a decision she would like to explain to you?” the end of the sentence was phrased as a question as Dr. Neil looked at Danielle for confirmation.
“Now remember what we talked about last time and let her finish what she’s trying to say rather than interrupt.”
“Alright,” Alex said wearily.
“I, I can’t be with you anymore Alex. I’m tired of falling in fifth on your priority list right before ‘take out the garbage’ which you never do either by the way,”
“Wait, what?” Alex asked in confusion.
“I know you have questions but please save them for after Danielle is finished and you might find that her explanation will clarify,” Dr. Neil reprimanded firmly.
“Thank you,” she said gratefully before turning to face her partner again. “What I mean is you don’t care about me at all. We’re doing all this to save our marriage and rather than give it your best shot you’re coming in here late more excited about some stupid deal than you are interested in what could happen with us. This week was the absolute final straw and I just won’t try anymore when you don’t seem to care. It hurts too much.”
Alex visibly paled, shock written on her face as if Danielle had slapped her.
“I know why we’re here, and I am trying babe. I’m leaving work earlier than normal just to get to these sessions and what happened this week that was so bad that you would want to throw in the towel?”
“The fact that you don’t even know should speak volumes to you about how little thought you give to us.” Danielle said disgusted.
“You’re wrong, I love you more than anything in this world and all I want is to make you happy and provide for you, for us.”
“You happen to know what the date was on Monday?” Danielle asked coldly.
Both she and Dr. Neil watched Alex as she mentally counted back three days.
“What month are we in honey?” Danielle asked sarcastically.
“Aug…….oh shit, babe I’m sorry. I don’t know how I forgot.” Alex apologized red faced.
“Why is that day important to you Danielle?” Dr. Neil asked.
“It’s our anniversary,” Alex whispered.
“Well I guess you can see why Danielle would be upset.”
Alex nodded miserably.
“Did you make plans for this year?”
“Alex probably never thought about it long enough to make plans but I thought maybe I could try again like you were saying last week?” Danielle tore her gaze away from Alex to look at Dr. Neil.
She smiled encouragingly.
“I knew I couldn’t surprise her with a trip out of town because she kept complaining about how busy work was so I thought we could re-create our first Anniversary together. I bought roses and sprinkled the petals from the door to the dining room. I got the same champagne we’d had that night and I made her favorite dinner.”
Danielle turned to Alex, “I got us theatre tickets to the King and I. Remember back then we said we would have loved to go see it but we couldn’t afford it.”
Alex’s tears mirrored the pain on Danielle’s face.
“What happened when she came home Danielle?”
“Nothing.” Danielle said bitterly as she faced Dr. Neil again. “She didn’t come in until after eleven, long after the play was over and dinner was ruined, even though she promised me she would come home early.”
“Dani bear, God, baby I’m an idiot but I’m so unbelievably sorry,” Alex said as she knelt in front of her wife and kissed her tense hands.
Danielle pulled her hands away, “You always say that and nothing ever changes. I’m leaving so you can officially marry your damn job,” she said standing up and moving away from the cause of her pain.
“Danielle wouldn’t you like to hear an explanation from Alex? Or at least allow her to atone for her actions? Isn’t that why you’re here in my office rather than at your home packing?”
“You looked so happy when you walked through that door just now. It’s obvious I don’t factor into your thoughts much. Why should I let you do anything?” Danielle answered coolly as she stared at Alex before walking out.
“Alex tell me something, are you here because you’re hoping she’ll turn up even though she said she was through trying? Or are you here for you?”
“A little of both I guess,” she answered quietly. “I finally managed to come on time but I guess it’s too late.”
“It’s never too late to work on you and change what you feel is dragging you down.”
“But it’s too late for my marriage though,” she looked up with a pained expression. “I ruined it and the worst part is I forgot how much she meant to me until this last week.”
“What was so special about this week? Has she moved out?”
“No, she’s in the guest room but I hardly see her anymore,” shaking herself she corrected, “no that’s not right. I hadn’t seen much of her before either and she was right to say I didn’t put much effort into it.”
“So the change isn’t her presence or lack thereof?”
“No. I went through some of the stuff in the master bedroom and I found my old journal in the corner of the closet. I guess it was buried under all those shoes,” she said with a wry grin. “I wrote in it back when we first started dating. There are little quotes and stories about our dates and the way she made me feel. It took me back seven years to the wonder of first love and to all the little things that made me want to jump for joy.”
“It made you realize what you’re about to lose then.” Dr. Neil suggested gently.
Alex shook her head hesitantly. “No it’s made me remember how it feels to be so incredibly happy you could burst. It’s made me realize why I’m not giving her up ever.”
Alex stood up, her eyes shining with determination.
“Thanks doc, you were a great listener.”
“You’re leaving?” Dr. Neil asked mildly amused.
“Yeah, I’m off to go grovel in as many different ways as I can until she gives us another chance,” Alex said with a wink.
“Back again I see. How was your week?”
“A mixed bag I guess,”
“Friday morning before I went to work I asked her if we could have a truce and at least try to salvage our friendship. Seven years together is a lot to throw away after all and she said yes,”
Dr. Neil nodded encouragingly.
“Saturday morning I got up early and made giant chocolate, chocolate chip pancakes with pecans. You know the big ones that fit your entire plate?” Alex asked with a smile.
“Well that and some coffee and orange juice, I put it on a tray with some fresh cantaloupe and carried it up to her room. She refuses to stay in the master bedroom even if I move out of it so she was in the guest room. I’d forgotten how amazing it is to watch her sleep. She’s gorgeous and so peaceful, like an angel,” Alex said dreamily. “Anyway I put the tray down on the night stand and the smell of coffee woke her up just like the old days,” she grinned obviously proud of herself.
“Was she angry at being woken earlier than she planned?”
“I was a little nervous about that too actually but no, she pretty much just lit up at the pancakes.” Alex said as she played over the scene in her mind.
Danielle pushed her honey blond curls out of her face and blinked sleepily at her.
“I brought you breakfast in bed. Pancakes were always your favorite,” Alex cajoled.
“You know this doesn’t change my mind right? I’m still just as done as I was last week.”
“I know but we agreed to a truce and to rebuild our friendship. I thought breakfast would be nice.”
Danielle sat up and took the offered coffee watching warily as Alex sat at the foot of the bed with the tray between them.
“You haven’t made me coffee in at least a year and a half,”
“I know,” Alex winced. “A little cream and a lot of sugar.”
Danielle smiled as she sipped it.
“It’s perfect. Amazing that you remember something so small that you haven’t even done in forever,”
“Actually when someone asks how I take my coffee I usually remember how you take yours before I remember mine,” she responded sheepishly. “It’s not that I don’t think of you, you’re too much a part of me for that to ever be true, it’s just that I stopped acting on those thoughts.”
“I believe you,” she said quietly.
“It seems like you’ve made some inroads with your wife then,” Dr. Neil commented on the story.
“Kind of but then it all got ruined again. Tuesday night when I got home with takeout hoping we could talk like we’d been talking that weekend, she was all dressed up in this barely there red dress. She’d only ever worn it once, the night of my birthday and that night was awful because I kept staring down all the men and women ogling her in it. I asked where she was going but I guess it came out judgmental or harsh because she basically told me it was none of my business anymore where she went and left. She didn’t come home that night.”
“Is it possible she stayed over by a friend’s house?”
“Yeah and if that friend is Caroline then I’m sure that bitch made a move on her. She’s been in love with Dani for years but she refuses to see it.”
“Are you worried Danielle would say yes to Caroline if propositioned?”
“No, I’m worried that she’ll fill her head with shit about me and then I’ll be forced to beat her to within an inch of her life. No need to worry about Dani actually sleeping with Caroline though because Dani just doesn’t see her that way.”
“Have you spoken since then?”
“I tried to talk to her last night but she basically ignored me.” Alex said with a shrug.
“Nice to see you again Alex,”
“It’s still just you and me in case you’re wondering,”
“How was work this week?”
“Fine, I’m getting a lot better at leaving work at the office. Worry about losing what’s really important can make you change fast,” she said with a laugh.
“Are you falling behind with the new attitude towards your job?”
“No, I just won’t be moving ahead quite as rapidly. Plus I’m not taking on as much as I would have a few weeks ago.”
“She’s hurting just like I am. I think she actually lost a little weight, she was leaving for work today and I noticed her shirt is a little looser than it normally is.”
“Are you worried about that?”
“How can I not be when what’s happened to us is what’s causing it?”
“Has she said when she’s moving out?”
“She brought up the subject but we’ve decided that no one is going to move just yet.”
“How did that decision come about?” Dr. Neil asked in surprise.
“We’d have to sell the house for either of us to be able to move somewhere comfortable and the housing market is in a mess right now so we decided to wait. She hasn’t filed for divorce and I never will so no rush, we’re adults and we can co-exist without being at each other’s throats.”
“That sounds like an argument you would use to get your wife to stay,” Dr. Neil said.
“Yeah I said it, she agreed to it.”
“Was this week better for the two of you than last week was?”
Alex was determined to make Saturday mornings a ritual so she made breakfast again, eggs this time since Danielle was already moving around by the time she put the coffee on.
“Hey, making enough for two?”
Alex looked up from cutting up vegetables for the omelets and smiled, “for you, always.”
“Anything I can do to help?”
“No I have it. I would have brought it up to you,” she chided softly.
“I think I’d rather eat in here,” Danielle said hesitantly and Alex wondered if the reason for that was because breakfast in bed was so intimate.
She laid breakfast on the table while Danielle poured them both coffee.
“So you never talk about work anymore,” Alex prodded gently.
Danielle shrugged, “its fine.”
Alex waited hoping she would expand on that but Danielle remained silent. For a moment with the stifling sound of awkward silence choking her she was tempted to throw in the towel.
“I’d forgotten you could cook when you put your mind to it. This is good Al,” she praised with a small, distant smile.
“Thanks bear,” she responded determined to wipe away the feeling that they were almost strangers. “You know I can’t remember the last time we went to the movies, got a bowl of popcorn and some pop and just relaxed.”
“Neither can I, you were always too busy,” she shrugged moodily.
“Are you busy today?”
“I thought I’d clean, the house is a mess. After that, I don’t know yet.”
“How about we put on some music and I help you.”
Danielle shot her a surprised glance.
“Ok, I guess.”
In less than an hour they were cleaning to the fast paced sounds of salsa. Danielle ran a dust cloth over the coffee table in the living room unable to keep from laughing as Alex danced around her with the vacuum.
Grabbing her partner around her waist, Alex ground against her in time with the beat until she helplessly responded. She whirled Danielle around and they danced around the living room until the song ended and they collapsed on the couch with Danielle lying half on top of her.
“This reminds me of that first year when we had just gotten married,” Alex said softly against her partner’s hair.
“I know,” Danielle smiled, “back then we got as little cleaning done as we did just now.”
“Less,” Alex declared with a mischievous grin, “back then we usually ended up naked messing up the house and our bedroom way worse than it was when we started our cleaning project.”
Danielle stiffened at the memory and started to get up.
“Can’t you just agree that we have some really good memories and not run away from me like we haven’t spent seven years together? The world won’t come crashing down if you stop dwelling only on the bad times as a way to blot all the other stuff out.” Alex said firmly as she stubbornly held her closer despite her attempts to move.
Danielle remained tense for a few more minutes and then slowly relaxed again while Alex gently stroked her middle.
“It was a good memory,” she finally admitted. “Let’s get back to work.”
Alex released her with a sigh already craving the loss of contact.
“Are you disappointed it didn’t end like those other times?” Dr. Neil asked sympathetically.
“I think I’m more happy that we had a good time and that I got to hold her again for a bit. Plus the weekend didn’t end there. I got her to go to the movies with me on Sunday. I’m trying not to push for too much too soon in the hope that if we move slowly enough that she doesn’t see what’s happening until it’s too late for her to even consider leaving me.”
“Sounds like an interesting and ambitious plan,” Dr. Neil said noncommittally.
“I hope it works,” Alex smiled. “I was thinking of carrying her ice skating tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed that she says yes.”
“Have you thought about what you’ll do if after all this the truth turns out to be that she really does want to move on?”
“She fell in love with me before, I’ll move heaven and earth for it to happen again.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“I don’t know,” Alex whispered her eyes filled with pain. “I know we’ve both changed from what we were when we got married seven years ago but I hope I don’t ever need to find out if I can move on without her.”
“How are you today? That’s quite a nasty bruise you’ve got there.”
“I’ve been better, then again, I’ve been worse,” she shrugged.
“Do you mind if I ask how you got that?” Dr. Neil gestured to the bruise on Alex’s cheek.
“Remember when I said I hoped I didn’t have to beat Caroline to a pulp?” Alex asked sheepishly.
“So she made a move on Danielle?” Dr. Neil asked struggling for a neutral facial expression.
“Friday I called Dani and I asked if she wanted to go skating, she said she’d made plans and we both needed to stop living in the past.” Alex began bitterly. “It was so hard not to flip out because that sounded exactly like something Caroline would have said and I told her that.”
“How did that go over with her?”
“She said Caroline was just looking out for her, I said Caroline was trying to get into her pants, we argued about my jealousy and her being neglected for the past two years. Honestly I don’t even know when the fight stopped being Caroline and started being everything else, then she hung up on me.”
Dr. Neil nodded at her sympathetically to go on.
“I carried a small cake and work home. I’ve cut back I swear but sometimes you just have things, responsibilities, that need to be attended to and they cut into your time. Dani was gone by the time I got home but I left a piece in the fridge for her with a note so she’d know it was hers. I got a call from one of our mutual friends asking if we were having problems,” Alex’s eyes darkened as she glanced up at Dr. Neil. “You have to understand we haven’t really told anyone that we’re separated. Most people think things are fine with us except for Caroline,” she explained darkly.
Dr. Neil nodded.
“I probed Dave and he said she and Caroline were at Moons Bar and Caroline was obviously putting the moves on my wife. I just saw red, didn’t even think it through because a relationship is hard enough with just two people in it without a third person trying to make the damage even worse. I got dressed and went over there and looking back on it I could have probably handled it better if I hadn’t been so angry. When I found them they were dancing, if you could call it that, Caroline’s hands were all over Dani and I think it made me even angrier. I dragged her out of there and of course that bitch just had to follow us.” Alex fumed as she thought back to that night.
“What are you doing here?” Danielle asked angrily.
“Get your hands off her, you don’t deserve someone as amazing as her.” Caroline demanded
Alex whirled on her, “oh and you do right? You play the best friend role and worm your way in there and as soon as you see an opening you just take advantage of the situation.”
“You’re giving me way too much credit.” Caroline sneered. “I didn’t have to do a thing. You screwed it up all on your own by taking her for granted.”
“This is ridiculous. Caroline and I are just friends. It’s not like that between us so for the last time get that idea out of your head. The fact is I can date whoever I want and while it’s not Caroline it will be someone else eventually, someone who’ll actually act like they give a damn.”
“You can’t really mean that. You and I both know you still love me and all this is just to get back at me for hurting you,”
“Oh for crying out loud,” Danielle said exasperated.
“Why don’t you just go back to work and leave me to take care of your wife like you always do,” Caroline goaded.
“Caro,” Danielle warned.
“You know what? Go ahead baby. Get it all out of your system now. It won’t take long for you to realize that making love means too much to you for you to ever rebound with that hag or anyone else. You could never have casual sex so let her go ahead and try, we’ll see who you hurt while you’re trying to hurt me back.” Alex scoffed as she angrily stalked away.
She was still furious and hurting when she finally got home and started working to distract herself from the mess her love life had become. The phone call at 3am found her still working and only marginally calmed down.
“Calling to gloat that you proved me wrong Dani?” she snapped.
“Is this Alex Valiere?” a professional voice asked.
“Yes,” she said slowly trying to stifle the feeling of dread.
“I’m calling from Preesal General. Your wife was in a minor car accident tonight.”
A thousand images bombarded Alex’s imagination at once.
“She’s ok right?”
“Would you like to come down and see her?”
Alex wrote down the directions to the area Danielle was and rushed to the hospital. She was easy to find and the knot in her chest subsided a bit at the sight of her wife sitting on the bed looking a little worse for wear but not too banged up.
“Thank God you’re ok. Anything hurt Dani bear?” she asked concerned as she wrapped her partner in a gentle hug, stroking her hair and reveling in the feel of knowing she would be ok.
“My head is killing me but the doctor said I just have a mild concussion,” she responded as she hugged Alex back.
Alex pulled back enough to look at the cut on her forehead and gently kissed it.
“The other woman, a Caroline Seals was inebriated and lost control of the vehicle when they hit a patch of ice on the road,” an officer said as he came into the curtained off area.
“She was drunk?” Alex asked.
“No she wasn’t.” Danielle defended wearily.
“Her blood alcohol level was over the limit allowed for designated drivers.”
“She could have killed you, all because she couldn’t keep her hands to herself.”
“Alex please stop.”
The doctor came in, interrupting further conversation as he shooed them out so he could stitch the wound.
They discharged Danielle with orders for Alex to wake her up every hour and a prescription for some pain killers. With only a little persuasion Alex got Danielle snuggled in their bedroom so she could keep an eye on her.
They had their Saturday morning breakfast in bed and Danielle slept for most of the day only waking up long enough to answer Alex’s questions every hour.
“That must have been traumatic for both of you.”
“I could have lost her if Caroline had been driving even a little faster. Danielle got bruises and a concussion and nightmares, she only got a warning. Not a single bruise anywhere on her.”
“How did that make you feel?”
“Part of me wanted blood. I mean if they’d had just one more drink it might have been worse but she was only a little over the limit so I guess it could have happened to anyone, me included. Besides, when Dani finally told me what happened leading up to it the alcohol had very little to do with it. Caroline showed her true colors that night and with all that had happened earlier with the three of us, she didn’t brush it off like she normally does. They were arguing in the car because Caroline wanted to take Dani home with her and Dani realized how bad an idea that would have been and said no. Caroline was paying more attention to the fight than the road.”
“Are they speaking now?”
“I have no idea.”
“So how did you get the bruise?”
“Caroline showed up at our door two days ago wanting to talk to Dani. I couldn’t tolerate her attitude especially after hearing about all the things she’s been filling my wife’s head with. The fact is Dani is married to me and even if she wants to walk away from us what kind of person pounces on someone who isn’t even really separated yet?”
“I take it you gave her a piece of your mind then?”
“We had an argument, Dani tried to break it up and then she said that Dani had agreed to move in with her until the house could be sold for what it was worth. I mean now that I look back on it I can tell she wasn’t being completely honest about that but at the time I saw Dani’s guilty expression and I just lost it. I shoved her out the door, she didn’t want to go and actually had the nerve to punch me.” Alex said incredulously. “Wrong move on her part because I broke her nose, gave her a black eye and still sent her on her way.”
“Do you usually solve your problems with violence?”
“No, but then I don’t usually find myself fighting for my marriage while some home wrecker tries to steal my wife and acts like she’s entitled to do it.”
“What did Danielle think about the confrontation?”
“She was mad at both of us. Something about the fight made her feel like she was more of a trophy to us than an actual human being,”
“How did you deal with that?” asked Dr. Neil leaning forward slightly, clearly interested in the answer. “Did you apologize for the way it made her feel?”
“I explained why Caroline deserved to have her hair set on fire and considering that she got off rather easy. We had another shouting match and I realized words weren’t going to help her understand that I was fighting for my heart so I grabbed her and kissed her. All our history, those years with all the ups and downs, they were all in that kiss. I told her I’d fight anyone or anything to not lose her and until a judge forces me to sign divorce papers I’ll fight for another chance at us.”
Dr. Neil smiled, her eyes twinkling in amusement, “A little caveman-like in the approach aren’t we?”
“That’s kind of what she said but she was smiling when she said it so I guess she wasn’t too upset anymore.” Alex smirked.
“I see the bruise has faded,” Dr. Neil smiled.
“Remember when you asked what I would do if after everything she still didn’t want to give our marriage a shot?”
Dr. Neil nodded.
“Well I’ve been thinking about that a lot these days.”
“Did something happen to dampen your resolve?”
Alex sat back frustrated as she struggled to find the right words to express how she was feeling.
“Dani tried to get me to pay attention to our marriage for months before she finally got so disgusted with me that she decided she wanted out. Sometimes when I think about how preoccupied I’ve been, I just, I don’t feel like I deserve another chance.” Alex searched Dr. Neil’s eyes hoping to see understanding there.
“Everyone makes mistakes. Do you really think you could atone better for yours by letting her move on?”
“There are so many women out there who would never have taken her for granted like I did. She said it too yesterday and she’s right. I think I’m being selfish trying to keep her.”
“I didn’t take you for a quitter.” Dr. Neil said clearly surprised.
Alex shrugged. “At some point we all have to cut our losses when we’re not making any headway and I’m not getting anywhere.”
“How long do you take before you give up on a project at work?”
“Projects don’t have feelings, they don’t look at me with that much hurt when something reminds them of a mistake I made.”
“Yes but people depend on your decisions since they do affect their livelihood so tell me, how long?”
Alex looked at her obviously drained. “If she would just give me a sign, something to hold on to so I could have some faith that we’d work it out.”
“Sometimes the things worth the most are the things we have the most difficult struggle to obtain. It might be time for you to decide if you can find the passion to not give up that you used to have.”
“I’ll think about it.” Alex said stubbornly.
“Has your relationship deteriorated this past week?”
“Not really, we actually hardly fight at all anymore.”
“Then what’s the problem?” Dr. Neil asked confused.
“We don’t fight because she doesn’t care and is hardly home.”
“Is she dating or just hanging out with friends to take her mind off things at home?”
“I have no idea. But she looks carefree now, less stressed out than she used to be. Her eyes kinda sparkle these days and it’s only when I saw that spark come back that I realized just how much I missed it. If she’s happier now then why ruin it?”
“So you’re thinking along the lines of if you love something you set it free?”
“Yeah,” Alex whispered miserably.
“What if the reason she’s happier is because you’re making an effort again rather than because she’s free of you?”
“I think if it were that she wouldn’t be out quite so often. It means we don’t get any time together and when I ask for us to watch a movie or go out to dinner she always says no.”
“Have you tried asking her about it?”
“She said despite what I think we’re over so there’s no reason to spend quality time together.”
“You do remember she left and this has so far been about you convincing her to come back right?” Dr. Neil asked cautiously.
“Right so I shouldn’t be upset?” Alex’s hazel eyes darkened.
“So maybe she hasn’t been convinced yet. If you want to be able to look back on this knowing you did all you could maybe you should stop playing it safe and go for broke,” she suggested softly.
“You think I’m not doing enough?” Alex asked incredulously. “I’ve bitten my tongue more times than I can count these past few weeks while she hurled insults at me and flirted with people like Caroline. There’s only so much patience and tolerance in my makeup and she’s pretty much used it all.”
“Do you still love her?”
“What kind of question is that?” Alex screamed as she stood furiously. “How dare you question how much she means to me.”
Dr. Neil regarded her calmly with only the desk between them. “I’m glad to see at least some fight left in you.”
Alex collapsed into herself as she sat back down.
“If you want her then fight for it. If she doesn’t want you anymore then nothing you do will change that. If you sit on that chair and do nothing you would have gained nothing and lost what you’ve said is everything. It’s entirely up to you.”
Alex smiled at her, “thanks doc, you’ve definitely earned your fee today.”
“So you’re off to strategize again?”
“No I’m off to figure out if I should cut and run or fight till the fat lady sings. Wish me luck,” she grinned as she stood.
“Good luck Alex,” she said encouragingly.
“I missed you last week.”
“Sorry last week Thursday was the only day Dani was actually planning to stay home.”
“Understandable, so have you made a decision?”
“I don’t know if you can put it like that but I’m on a path if that helps,” Alex answered cryptically.
Alex left work earlier than normal to get ready and called Danielle from the store.
“Alex I’m on the way to a meeting can I talk to you later?” Danielle answered.
“Just wondering if you’re staying at home long enough for dinner. I was going to get some take out and I wasn’t sure whether I should get for both of us.” Alex explained as she held the phone between her shoulder and ears while she rushed around the supermarket.
“Oh, umm sure I think I’ll stay in tonight. If that changes I probably would still need dinner anyway.”
“Ok, I’ll let you go then. See you at home.”
“Bye Al,” she replied before clicking off.
Alex got all the ingredients for the lasagna and salad she was going to make for them and then rushed home to get everything ready and put the food in the oven. She grabbed the bag of white and red candles as well as the pictures she’d printed chronicling their life together. She stuck them all over the den making sure to place the candles a safe distance away. She ran her fingers nervously over the baby grand piano in the room as she looked around a final time making sure it was perfect before she hurried upstairs to shower and change.
The lasagna was ready and a bottle of wine sat in an ice bucket open but it was another thirty minutes before Danielle came home.
“Something smells good. I thought you were ordering take out,” she called as she walked into the empty kitchen.
Confused she walked out again moving into the dining room to check for Alex.
She started up the stairs but stopped abruptly when the sound of the piano being played for the first time in years travelled to her ears. She followed the chords into the den they never used anymore and gasped.
The pictures started from their first days together through to their commitment ceremony and all their anniversaries except for their last one. The room was lit only by candles. The red and white should have looked at least a little garish but they didn’t. They looked like the flowers Alex had strewn across their honeymoon suite and as soon as she thought it, Danielle knew that was her wife’s intention.
Her heart was pounding as she finally met Alex’s eyes. Her beautiful, thick hair hung free around her face and shoulders. She was wearing a red shirt that brought out the hazel in her eyes even more than the candles and lighting did.
She walked closer to the piano, trying hard to find her center and the reasons she had for not wanting to work at this anymore and drew a blank when Alex’s smoky alto voice began singing “A House Is Not A Home”.
Danielle was in tears by the end of the song.
“Why couldn’t you do this months ago when I was begging you to pay attention? I’m finally moving on and it’s like you just want to pull me back,” she screamed at her.
Alex rounded the piano coming to stand in front of her, “bear, I’ve apologized for the past until I was blue in the face. I’ve tried to show you how much you mean to me, how sorry I am. I’ve changed the habits that took time from us. Baby,” she whispered as she used her thumb to wipe away her wife’s tears. “I can’t change the past so I’m done apologizing every single day for it. None of the things I worked so hard for matter if you’re not by my side. This house is just a really expensive shell if you’re not here to come home to, have children with, raise our family in. Tonight I’m asking for a chance at rebuilding what we had. I can’t keep begging for another chance with you trying to pull away so if you want this let me know and I’ll keep fighting for you with both of us committing to it, or you can tell me no one last time and this time, I’ll listen even though it will kill the best part of me because the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you. If leaving makes you happy I’ll respect that.”
“You would really walk away after doing all of this?” Danielle gestured to the den Alex had turned into a tribute to their marriage.
“I want you to be happy. You seem to be in a better place this past week and I feel selfish trying to force you back to me when it seems to hurt you. We’ve been doing this dance where I beg and plead for your time and you pay me back for all the times it was the other way around by brushing me off and going out with your friends acting very much the single woman. If we keep going like this I’ll get even more frustrated and you’ll eventually go too far while you’re out on the town and there’ll be no coming back from that.”
“You think I would start dating other women then?”
“The other night when you went out all dolled up, are you really going to tell me you didn’t either go on a date or flirt with some woman while you hung out with your friends?” Alex arched an eyebrow skeptically.
Danielle’s cheeks flamed. “I went out with friends you know that.”
“But you were flirting weren’t you?”
“It’s nice to be reminded that someone else finds me attractive and is actually interested in my feelings for a change.” Danielle said defensively. “Are you saying your jealous?”
“Yeah I am. Part of me is furious and that part is telling me that I’m not capable of fighting for our marriage if you were to slip too far down that slippery slope your on and cheat.”
“It wouldn’t be cheating Al, we’re separated even though we live in the same house.”
Alex pulled away from her and looked at her in hurt.
“That response is exactly why I’m asking this now. Before anything happens that we can’t fix. Either we both agree to work on this or we both walk away.”
“Do I get a chance to think about it?”
“Yeah you can think about it. If you’re hungry we can have dinner.” Alex suggested softly.
Danielle smiled and as one they blew out the candles before walking hand in hand to the kitchen.
The next morning Alex left seven roses and a white tulip on the pillow next to Danielle’s sleeping form with a note.
Here’s a rose for each year of our marriage.
They say to find someone……
Who’ll never get tired of kissing you every day
Who’ll hug you when you’re jealous
Who’ll squeeze you’re hand when you’re not in the mood
Who’ll plan and imagine a future with you in it…….
And when you find that person never let go. So I’m not letting go until you make me.
The tulip signifies forgiveness and represents this next year of our marriage. I’m hoping you can forgive the times I didn’t hear you or see your pain, the times when I was too busy to pay attention. If you accept it, it will symbolize our renewed commitment to each other, if you don’t, I want you to know I’ll love you forever.
“So you’ve essentially decided to leave the decision to her then,” Dr. Neil said.
“So that was a week ago and you said you’ve found your path so what did she decide?”
“She decided that she should stop punishing her wife and herself, skip the egotistical idea that Alex should pay until she felt better and leave the single life to the people who aren’t as lucky as she’s been to find her soulmate,” Danielle grinned as she strode into the room. “Sorry I’m late but there was an accident on the highway and the traffic was ridiculous.”
“You made it, that’s what counts,” Alex smiled as she pulled her wife into a hug.
“Congratulations you two. I take it you’ll be going back to couple’s therapy then?” Dr. Neil beamed.
“Definitely.” Danielle smiled, her hand resting casually on her partner’s thigh as they both sat on the couch. “We want to make sure we get it right this time.”
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