Nicole sat in her car in her driveway. She took a deep breath and brushed the angry tears away as she was overcome with guilt. She hadn’t been entirely honest with Chad when she said that nothing had happened between her and Ryan, but at the time she felt like her husband wasn’t entitled to her honesty.
Without thinking, Nicole picked up her phone and dialled Chad’s number. As she waited for him to pick up the phone, she tried to come up with what she was going to say to him, because she really had no idea what to say.
“I never thought you would want to talk to me again after our appointment,” Chad said quietly after answering.
“I wasn’t completely honest with you,” Nicole stated, her voice cracking slightly with nervousness.
“What are you talking about?” Chad asked, “I don’t deserve your honesty...”
“When I told you that nothing happened between me and Ryan...I wasn’t honest with you,” Nicole said hesitantly.
“Oh...” Chad replied quietly, “It doesn’t change anything. I screwed up big time, but I can’t help or control my feelings for Anna...Did you sleep with him?”
“No...we kissed a couple times,” Nicole replied, feeling horrible inside for stooping to Chad’s level, “I know it doesn’t change anything, but I thought you should know the truth regardless.”
“Thank you for telling me Nic,” Chad replied sincerely, “I appreciate it.”
“Ok, you’re welcome,” Nicole replied quickly, “Well I have to go and relieve the babysitter.”
Nicole pushed end faster than she could blink and threw it in her purse and leaned her head against the steering wheel. She was exhausted and hungry and her body was shaking. She had had enough for the day and all she wanted to do was cuddle her little boy and then fall asleep.
She lifted her head up and focused in on Ryan’s truck, which was parked along the curb outside her house. Her heart was doing little flips in her chest and she was excited to go inside and see him as well. He had offered to pick up Hudson from Beth’s house and then bring him home while she went to her appointment. Nicole had more than willingly accepted his offer.
He had been so busy the last couple weeks with the trial that she hadn’t seen him since he had come over for dinner. That evening was had been full of happiness and confusion and inward struggle on her part.
Nicole already knew where she and Chad stood on their marriage, but when Ryan came over for dinner the night after they broke the news to her, she and Ryan had been so close to crossing the point of no return. She had felt incredibly guilty, not because it had happened, but because she couldn’t even wait until it was formal and her and Chad had said the words...their marriage was over.
Two Weeks Ago
Nicole walked into the living room and smiled when she saw Ryan sitting on her couch with a beer in hand and watching the hockey game. He looked amazing in a brown sweater and a pair of blue jeans that hung loosely on his hips. She tried hard to keep the fact that they were “just friends” at the forefront of her mind, but she was failing miserably.
“Hudson’s asleep,” Nicole stated with a smile as she sat down on the couch, making a conscious effort to leave enough space between the two of them, “You must’ve have played him out.”
“Well, he certainly played me out,” Ryan stated, smiling over at her, “I haven’t played like that in quite some time. Emily plays Barbies and board games now, there isn’t much rough housing going on when she is at my place.”
“He loves you Ryan,” Nicole said quietly.
“How do you know?” Ryan asked with a twinkle in his eye.
“Just by the way he reacts when I mention your name,” Nicole replied quietly, “His eyes light up when he talks about you or when I bring you up. He gets so excited...”
“And you are worried that you might have to mend his broken heart if and when I walk out of your lives again,” Ryan mumbled as he looked down at his hands.
How did he do that, Nicole thought to herself. He always managed to know what she was thinking and say the words out loud, even after 13 years. He had always been able to read her and tell her what she was thinking.
“I just don’t want him to get too attached and then have to explain why you aren’t there anymore,” Nicole stated looking over at him.
“Nic, I can assure you that I am not going anywhere,” Ryan pledged, “I made that mistake years ago and I don’t plan on making it again.”
“What do you want Ryan?” Nicole asked as she looked at him shyly.
“What do you think I want?” Ryan asked in response, “I think I’ve made it pretty clear what I want. I think the question you should be asking yourself, is what is it that you want?”
Nicole looked down at her hands for a moment and thought about that question. Ryan was absolutely right. What did she want? Did she want him, or should she work on herself and learn how to be independent before she jumped into another relationship?
She lifted her head and looked over at him, her heart pounding in her chest. She knew the answer when she looked in his eyes. She loved Chad and she always would because he gave her Hudson. She had always wondered why she never completely got over Ryan and now she knew why. It had always been Ryan, when he left he took most of her heart with him.
“It’s up to you Nicole,” Ryan said interrupting her thoughts, “If you think we should just be friends, fine. If you want more than just friendship, fine. I can give you either one, but just know that no matter what, I will be here for you and Hudson.”
Nicole’s heart soared at those words and in that moment all she could see was Ryan and the feelings she had for him. Without thinking she crawled across the couch toward him, placed her hand on his shoulder to steady herself and straddled his lap. Ryan looked into her eyes and kept his hands at his sides and she was sure there were a million questions rolling through his mind.
“I don’t want to talk anymore,” she whispered as she reached down and grabbed his hands, “Just put your hands on me and kiss me.”
Ryan put his hands on her hips, his fingers connecting with the bare skin that peeked out just below her shirt. She closed her eyes as she felt his hands touch her body and she forgot how good it felt to be touched by him.
Nicole opened her eyes and Ryan’s brown eyes were burning into hers. Without hesitation she leaned in and crashed her lips against his and he responded immediately. There was a sense of urgency in their kiss, it was like they were making up for 13 years that they had missed together. Nicole’s heart was racing and she began to feel overwhelmed with her feelings for Ryan and everything else that was going on in her life all at once. She could feel the tears in her eyes threatening to fall and she held on to Ryan tighter. His hands travelled from her hips and up her back as he locked her against him tightly.
She moaned quietly as Ryan’s lips made their way from her mouth and down to her neck. She let her head fall back, allowing him to go further. His tongue slowly moved along her skin and her entire being felt like it was on fire. She pressed herself against him in response and could feel his arousal against her.
Her heart so badly wanted her to keep going, but her head was telling her to stop before they made a big mistake. She knew somewhere down the road it wouldn’t be a mistake, but this whole situation was just too much too soon.
“Ryan,” Nicole whispered as she ran her hands through his hair, “Ryan…stop…”
He reluctantly pulled away from her neck and looked into her eyes. She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him softly before smiling sadly at him.
“You don’t know how badly I want this…” Nicole said quietly, still sitting in his lap, “But we can’t…at least not yet. It’s just too much too soon. I want you in my life and I never want to say goodbye to you again, but I have to get my life in order first. Can we just take things slowly right now? You can still come over for pizza nights and play with Hudson and be my friend, but I am not ready to cross that line just yet.”
“Feeling this way about you and not being able to show you is killing me,” Ryan mumbled, running his hands up and down her arms, “But I agree with you completely. I will wait as long as it takes, just as long as you aren’t telling me to get lost.”
“Absolutely not,” Nicole replied with a smile, “Ryan, I need you. I think I always have…”
“I’m home!” Nicole called out happily as she walked through the front door.
Nicole put her purse on the table by the door and hung up her coat in the closet. She refused to let Chad’s news get her down and instead she decided to enjoy her evening with Ryan and her little boy.
“Momma!” Hudson cried out as he screamed out of the kitchen and down the hall towards her, “Hi!”
Nicole laughed as she swooped down and caught him in her arms. He wrapped his little arms around her neck and nuzzled his face in her hair and her heart soared with love for him. She held him tight in her arms and fought to hold onto him as he wriggled like a little fish to get out.
“Hey baby,” Nicole said happily, “How are you? Did you have a good time with Ryan?”
“I good!” he squealed happily, “Ryan played soccer ouside wif me.”
Nicole looked up as Ryan made his way out of the kitchen and stood in the hall. She smiled at him, her heart fluttering with excitement and he nodded and smiled back at her. She stood up and picked Hudson up in her arms before making her way down the hall towards the kitchen and Ryan.
“He did huh,” Nicole replied, “And did Ryan teach you any new soccer moves?”
“Yup,” Hudson responded as he nodded his head vigorously, “We had fun!”
Nicole put Hudson down by the kitchen table and Ryan held his hand out for a high five. Nicole laughed as Hudson stood on his tip-toes and hit Ryan’s hand as hard as he could.
“Nice one buddy!” Ryan cheered, “Now why don’t you get washed up for dinner?”
Hudson nodded his head once again before running up the stairs to the bathroom.
“You’re great with him,” Nicole stated as she turned to smile at him, “Chad never played soccer with him. It was either me or “Unky” Alex that always played with him. He loves soccer.”
“Thanks. He’s a good little kid,” Ryan replied as he leaned against the counter, “He’s a pretty good player for three years old Nic. You should get him into soccer once he is old enough.”
“I was thinking of enrolling him when he turns four,” Nicole said with a smile, “That’s only two months from now and just in time for the summer season.”
After that neither one of them said anything for a while. Nicole opened the fridge and grabbed herself a beer and held one up for Ryan. He accepted with a smile. The hair on her arms stood on end and goose bumps travelled over her skin as their fingers made contact and she quickly pulled away once he took the bottle from her.
“So...how did it go?” Ryan asked cautiously, “How was your day?”
“My work day was great,” Nicole replied before taking a long sip of her beer, “The counselling appointment on the other hand...that was a joke and an eye opener...”
“What happened?” Ryan asked her curiously, “If you don’t mind me asking.”
“No not at all,” she replied with a shake of her head, “He’s done with the marriage. He has officially decided that Anna is the one he wants to be with...but the real clincher...Anna’s pregnant.”
Ryan’s eyes got wide as he choked on his beer.
“You’re kidding?” Ryan retorted, “That son of a bitch!”
“No, I’m not kidding,” Nicole sneered, “Apparently they both just found out in the last couple days, but considering that she is 12 weeks, I find that hard to believe. I think Anna used the news to her advantage. I think she told him when she knew he was about to buckle about what decision he should make. No doubt he would pick her when she told him she was pregnant with his child.”
“I’m so sorry Nicky,” Ryan said quietly, “I don’t know how he could do this to you. You don’t deserve this…”
“Thanks,” Nicole replied, with a sad smile, her desire for him growing steadily by the minute, “So, I think it’s safe to say that I’m going to need a lawyer.”
“Well you’ve come to the right place,” Ryan said with a smile, “I work with a great family law lawyer. Her name is Jamie Sorensen.”
Nicole beamed at him and then threw her arms around his neck and hugged him close. She felt his body tense up for a moment before he reluctantly wrapped his arms around her. She felt horrible. She knew that she was confusing him and making this difficult on him, but she wanted him to know that she appreciated everything that he was doing to help her.
“I’m sorry,” Nicole whispered as she quickly pulled away from him.
“For what?” Ryan questioned before taking a sip of his beer.
“I’m confusing you, making this situation more difficult on you,” Nicole stated.
“I don’t know what…” Ryan began to say before she cut him off.
“Don’t lie to me Ryan,” Nicole stated, “I felt the way you tensed up when I hugged you. I felt your hesitation and reluctance before you hugged me back…I just wanted to show you that I appreciate what you are doing for me.”
Ryan gave her a small smile as he put his hands in his pockets. She smiled back, but he avoided the smile and looked down at the ground and she knew that she was about to get blown off. She knew he was about to say something that she didn’t want to hear, but she tried to prepare herself for it anyways.
“Look Nicky…I love you…” Ryan said quietly, “I’m stupid, crazy in love with you and I know you have to get things in order before you might want to be with me…and I know I said that I would be there for you no matter what. I know that I told you I was ok with being your friend or more, but that is proving to be so much more difficult than you can imagine…”
“So, what are you saying?” Nicole asked before biting her lip and trying to stop the tears from springing into her eyes.
“I need to distance myself,” Ryan replied, “Not completely, but just for a little while. I need to remove myself from a tempting situation and I don’t want to rush you into anything. I want you to pick me when you are ready to, not when I want you to.”
Nicole opened her mouth to respond but Ryan put his hand up to stop her.
“I’ll email you Jamie’s information and you can give her a call,” Ryan added quickly, “I have to go.”
Nicole let the tears fall as Ryan leaned in and kissed her softly on the lips before leaving the kitchen without another word. She stood there, glued to the spot, waiting and listening as he put his coat on and she jumped when the door shut behind him. She crumbled the moment she heard the door shut and she fell to the ground as the hot tears stung her cheeks. First her husband and then the next best thing. She couldn’t handle anyone else walking out of her life.