Nicole dropped her purse on the table beside the front door and hung up her coat on Tuesday evening. She had been back to work for a week now and she was tired. Her mother had offered to keep Hudson that night so that she could have some alone time and so that she could get a decent sleep without having to worry about her baby.
Nicole kicked off her shoes and put them in the closet before she walked into the kitchen to heat up some left over spaghetti that she had made the night before at Hudson’s request.
It had, for the most part, been a quiet couple weeks since she had seen Dr. Mason with Chad. No drama, no commotion and no pressure from Chad. Chad had showed up the Wednesday after their first appointment to move out some of his stuff while she was out grocery shopping with Hudson. He had done everything possible to make the transition easy for her and for that she was grateful.
She and Chad had rebooked their appointment with Dr. Mason for four weeks from the last time they had seen her and she was preparing herself mentally and emotionally for it. After the last two weeks without Chad in the house, she was actually missing having him around, but she wasn’t sure if she was ready to take the next step. She was afraid that he would only hurt her again.
Nicole removed the spaghetti from the microwave and went and sat down at the kitchen table. She took a bite of food and looked down at her cell phone, considering whether or not she should make the call or if she should wait. After a moment and after another bite of dinner, Nicole bit the bullet and dialed the familiar number. It rang and rang and finally, he picked up.
“Hey,” Chad said quietly on the other end, “Are you ok? Is Hudson ok?”
“Yeah, everything is ok,” Nicole replied, smiling a little to herself when she heard his voice, “I just...I...well...I miss you.”
It was silent for a moment and she listened closely to make sure the phone hadn’t gone dead or that they hadn’t been disconnected. She could hear him breathing softly on the other end and she silently breathed a sigh of relief.
“Did I catch you at a bad time?” she quickly threw in, “Because I can let you go if you want.”
Secretly, Nicole had been afraid that the moment she kicked him out of the house he had run back to Anna. She was hoping that he hadn’t, but you never can be too sure.
“No, not at all,” he replied, “I was just hoping that you telling me that you missed me wasn’t just my imagination.”
“No, I actually said those words,” Nicole said with a smile.
“I know you might not be comfortable with this, but it’s still early,” Chad stated, “Could I come over and see you and maybe help you get Hudson ready for bed? I just miss my family so much. I had so much fun with him on the weekend.”
“Hudson is staying with my parents tonight,” Nicole replied, her heart beating rapidly in her chest, “But I’m up for some company, if you are ok with it just being me.”
“I would love that,” Chad exclaimed, “I will just get cleaned up and make my way over. It was a long day at work, as I’m sure it was for you as well.”
“Ok sounds good,” Nicole said, feeling nervous all of a sudden, “I’ll see you soon.”
Nicole pressed the end button on her phone and pushed her food aside. She was nervous and shy and she felt like she did the first time her and Chad had gone out. She had been blissfully happy and excited to see him, but this time Nicole was nervous, but she had to make sure she was cautious as well. She didn’t think that she was ready to just trust him again, but strangely she felt like she was ready to be near him again. She had missed him so much that she wanted to know if she could let him in and give him her heart again, or at least what was left of it.
12 Years Ago
Nicole was a mess. She was an absolute nervous wreck, but she was lucky to have Beth with her at that moment to talk her off the ledge. She was going on her first real date with Chad, a guy she had met a few months after Ryan had broken up with her. It wasn’t an immediate attraction she had with Chad, but they definitely had a connection.
Nicole and Beth had gone out on the town one night after Beth had finally had enough of Nicole wallowing in self-pity and sadness over Ryan breaking up with her. She had been absolutely heart broken when Ryan called it off and even after four months Nicole still couldn’t let him go. Beth had never understood how in love Nicole was with Ryan until it was over.
That night Nicole had been introduced to Chad by a mutual friend of theirs and they became fast friends. The three of them hung out together a lot, but over several months Chad and Nicole grew closer until one day he asked her if she wanted to go on a date.
That brought Nicole to now, the night of their first date and she had no idea what to wear, how to act or what to say to him when she saw him. She remembered being the exact same way with Ryan when they first started dating so she had assumed that this was a natural feeling.
“Here Nic,” Beth said as she walked out of Nicole’s closet, “Wear this. It will be perfect for dinner and a movie.”
Nicole looked over at her friend who had a pair of blue jeans in one hand and a cute fitted t-shirt in the other. It was casual but cute and it was perfect. She ran over to her best friend and quickly kissed her on the cheek.
“It’s perfect,” Nicole exclaimed happily, “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“Crash and burn?” Beth questioned her with a grin.
Nicole rolled her eyes and then disappeared into the closet to change. Her hands were shaking, her stomach was flipping and flopping and she was completely and utterly excited to see Chad. She stepped out of her closet and looked at herself in the mirror and smiled, hoping that Chad was just as excited to see her...
Chad sat in his truck in front of their house, but was unable to force himself to get out and go knock on the door. He had been so nervous when she had said that she would like it if he came over. He was afraid to ruin the moment, he was afraid that when she saw him she would regret inviting him over. He was afraid that the moment she saw him, she would only see the monster that he had become.
Over the last two weeks he had buried himself in work as he was in the middle of preparing for a big trial that Ryan Wilson just so happened to be opposing counsel on. He didn’t think that it would be wise for him to mention to Nicole that over the next month or so he would be dealing with her ex-boyfriend. He had also made an effort to see Hudson as much as he could and as much as Nicole would allow. He didn’t realize how much he missed his family until everything was on the line for him.
He sat there and looked down at his ring finger and smiled. Just maybe there was a chance that he and Nicole could work through all of this and save their marriage.
He took a deep breath, looked at the clock in his truck which said it was 6:45 p.m., and then he jumped out. He slowly made his way up the walkway to their house and knocked on the door. He was sure that he could have just walked in, but he didn’t want to assume anything at this point in the game. He was just here to visit and talk and he was prepared to answer any questions she might have and he would just give her the reigns. He would let Nicole have complete control over the evening.
“Hey, come on in,” Nicole said shyly and with a small smile on her face.
She held the door open for him and he let himself in and hung his coat up in the closet like he used to and put his shoes on the mat in the closet. He smiled at her as she watched his every move. She was clearly nervous and it was clear that the jeans and black sweater she was wearing took a lot of thought on her part. He was sure that if he went up into her bedroom, there would be clothes on the bed and floor because she couldn’t make up her mind.
She was beautiful with her hair hanging in lose curls down her back. When he looked at her he couldn’t understand why he made the decisions that he had made over the last year. She never did anything to make him want someone else. She had always loved him as best she could. Of course they hit little bumps in the road just like any other couple, but those were never a good enough excuse for him to have an affair.
He followed her down the hall to the kitchen and then she turned and looked at him. He was all too familiar with that look. It was the ‘I miss you and want you to hold me look’, but he didn’t dare act on that one. Not right now, not with how fragile their marriage was and the fact that she didn’t trust him as far as she could throw him at this point.
“I’m glad you are here Chad,” Nicole said quietly, smiling at him, “I know things aren’t good between us right now, but I really have missed you and I feel like we should talk about things. Maybe make an effort before our appointment with Dr. Mason.”
“I agree 100 percent,” Chad replied as he shoved his hands in his pockets, “I’m happy that you were ok with me coming over. I want to do whatever I can Nicole, to make things right between us.”
Nicole looked at Chad with relief in her eyes and then she did the unthinkable. She slowly moved towards him and reached for his hand. When her hand touched his it felt like his whole body was on fire. He forgot how good it felt to be touched by her. She looked into his eyes as her fingers intertwined with his and before he could stop himself he slowly and cautiously pulled her close to him and wrapped his arms around her.
He could feel her move into his embrace reluctantly at first and then she uttered a quiet sigh as her arms wrapped around his neck and she rested her head against his shoulder. Oh God, how he missed this.
“I know I really screwed up Nic,” Chad mumbled against her hair, “But please, give me a chance to prove to you that I want to make this work.”
“Just hold me Chad,” Nicole responded quietly, “I don’t want to think right now about what lies ahead for us. I just want to focus on us right now.”
Chad wasn’t sure what was going on or what she wanted in that moment. He pulled away and looked down into her eyes. One look at her gave him his answer.
“You...want...,” Chad was floored, “Are you...really?”
“No matter what Chad, I love you,” she whispered, nodding her head slightly, “Let’s not think or talk, just for tonight. I may be making a huge mistake right now but all I want is you...I want us right now.”
Without another word from Nicole he pressed his lips against hers and she closed her eyes and let the kiss happen. He groaned quietly as she pressed her body against his and again he was reminded of how much of an idiot he was for looking for love outside of their marriage. He refused to let these thoughts creep back in to his mind tonight while he was with Nicole. He needed her and she needed him and that’s all that mattered.
He picked her up in his arms and he carried her upstairs to their bedroom and sure enough, there were clothes everywhere. He put her down on the ground momentarily as she cleared the clothes off the bed and threw them on the floor with the others. She grinned at him before sitting on the bed and pulling him between her legs. He grinned back at her. She was absolutely the sexiest woman in the world to him. In that moment he vowed to himself that she was the only woman in the world for him.
Nicole opened her eyes and stared into the eyes of her husband. She had fallen asleep and when she woke up she was surprised that he had stuck around. She smiled up at him before he leaned down and kissed her deeply, lighting a fire in her that she had forgotten existed. She allowed herself to get lost in the moment again before a sickening feeling lodged itself in her stomach.
She quickly pulled herself away from Chad and stared at him. She allowed herself to feel and trust and she felt like it was too soon to allow herself to let her guard down with him.
“Why did we do this?” she asked him, the panic evident in her voice, “This happened too soon. I shouldn’t have let this happen.”
“I know you are scared Nic, and you have every right to be,” Chad responded calmly as he reached for her hand, “Let this be a sign to you that I want to make things right. You don’t have to trust me yet, but I want to regain your trust. This is just one small step to getting to that point.”
“Chad…I can’t do this…I don’t know why I did this?” Nicole stated as she pulled her hand away, “I missed you, I missed us and we rushed into this because I missed being an ’us”. I don’t want to stop spending time with you, but we have to talk and work together to repair our marriage. I can’t let this happen again until I know that you can be trusted. Please understand. It isn’t like I didn’t enjoy it, but I need to be good to my heart.”
“I understand completely,” Chad replied with a small smile, “I won’t push you or rush you into anything if you aren’t ready.”
“Thank you,” she replied sweetly.
Nicole watched as Chad pulled on his pants and shirt and her heart fluttered slightly. She was still attracted to him, but she wouldn’t allow herself to become vulnerable to him again until she knew that her heart would again be safe in his hands.
He walked around the bed and then leaned down and kissed her softly on the forehead. She could feel the warmth of his lips against her skin and she wanted more, however she refrained from pulling him back down on the bed with her.
“Get some sleep Nic,” Chad said quietly, “Maybe I can take you out for dinner on Friday?”
“I would like that,” Nicole responded with a small smile, “I’ll see you then.”
After he closed the bedroom door behind him she fell back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. What had she done? She regretted it the moment she opened her eyes and realized he was still there with her. It hadn’t been a dream.
She was beginning to wonder if she actually missed her husband, Chad, or if she missed the idea of what a husband should be like.
Her mind was filled with a combination of thoughts from her moment with Chad and her moment with Ryan a couple weeks ago. His eyes and the emotion behind them still haunted her and made her feel things she didn’t think she still felt, even after two weeks. She missed him too and she was unable to deny the way she felt when she was around Ryan.
She reached into her bedside table and pulled out the business card that Ryan had given her a couple weeks ago and stared at it. She eyed her cell phone which was sitting on the table as well, but she was instantly filled with guilt. Chad may have hurt her horribly, but it wasn’t fair for her to hurt him in return. She had to give Chad the benefit of the doubt that he wanted to save them just as much as he said he did.
She sighed heavily as she opened the table drawer and threw the card inside. She had to forget about Ryan, she just had to.