He stepped into his office and froze. What was she doing here this late at night? Especially in his current aroused state. If she was here, who was with Morgan?
“Eden?” he softly called, stepping closer, finding it hard to believe she was here while he was reliving early moments with her.
The woman at his desk turned and you could have knocked him over with a feather.
“Hi Noah,” she huskily said his name.
He stood there, mouth open, as he took in her appearance. Gone was her long hair that reached almost her waist. Not only gone, cut short and spiky, but it wasn’t even blonde any more. Even in the dim lighting he could see the red hue.
His eyes next took in the rest of her appearance. A faded denim jean skirt, long ecru colored cable knit sweater that reached just about the hem of the short skirt, and four-inch heels? What the hell was going on?
He shook free of the cobwebs forming in his brain and stepped closer. “What are you doing here?” Noah couldn’t conceal the shock at what he was seeing from his voice.
“I came to see you. See how things have been,” she answered.
He stepped past her and placed the papers on his desk, neither of them aware they had company.
“Are you okay?” Noah asked.
When he turned to face her, she stepped well into his personal space.
“I heard Eden moved out. Again. I’m worried about you Noah.”
He stepped back a few steps until the edge of his desk stopped him. Lorraine stepping forward with him.
“Yeah, she’s moved into a townhouse. But, things are actually going well,” he told her, clearing his throat.
“Noah, I can only imagine how all this is beating you up. You went through hell before the accident. With her and Lawrence.”
“Lorraine, what’s going on?”
Lorraine took that last step, closing the distance between them completely, looping her arms around his neck.
Eden almost giggled at the look of shock she could see fall over Noah’s face, but didn’t. This was too good to miss.
Eden and Lawrence looked to one another, smiled, then looked back at the unsuspecting couple.
“Noah, don’t you think it’s time you gave up on Eden?”
“Lorraine, have you been drinking?”
She ignored his question, bringing her body flush with his. “I saw how things got better for the two of you after the accident. But, now that their affair has been brought out, you know she doesn’t love you.”
“I don’t know any…”
Noah stopped breathing at the shock of Lorraine’s lips on his. As though he’d been stung by something, his hands yanked her from him.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he demanded.
“Noah, I care for you. I always have. When Eden wasn’t understanding about your long hours and turned to Lawrence, it broke my heart. You deserve so much better.”
Noah paced, scrubbing his face with his hands. Surely he had to be dreaming all this. When she continued talking, he knew he was awake.
“Lawrence and I are separated. You and Eden are separated.”
“So, what? I’m supposed to pick up with you?”
“Noah, you and I can relate to one another. Our better halves have burned us. Mocked us.”
“Oh Honey, you can do so much better than that,” Eden mocked as she applauded Lorraine’s performance.
Noah looked first to her, then Lawrence.
“Does someone want to tell me what’s going on here?” Noah’s shout filled the office.
Eden circled Lorraine, inspecting her. Her hand at her mouth, fingers tapping her own lips. “Nice try.”
“Eden!” Lorraine gasped finally.
Eden walked over and sat on the front edge of Noah’s desk. “Would you like to tell him, or shall I?” she asked Lorraine.
“Tell him what?” Lorraine’s words quivered out.
“Okay, I will. Just cause this is too good to be true,” Eden said.
Eden’s smile caused Lorraine to take a step back. Lawrence now stood behind his ex-wife, restricting her exit option.
“I’m very disappointed in myself,” Eden began. “All this time. All these things happening without a clue. You’re good,” Eden told her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lorraine blurt out.
“Eden?” Noah called.
Eden didn’t acknowledge him. Her concentration on the woman before her. “I guess maybe you didn’t know I was growing my hair out again.” Eden’s hair now touched her shoulders in a bob style.
Lorraine tried to get past Lawrence, but he was having none of that. “Lorraine, how rude. Let the woman fill in her husband.”
“Noah isn’t her husband! She tossed him away like yesterday’s garbage years ago!”
“Someone had better tell me what’s going on!” Noah shouted.
Eden turned to face Noah. “Lawrence and I weren’t having an affair,” she flat out said.
Noah turned to Lawrence, who was shaking his head in agreement.
“However, Lorraine here wanted to have one with you.”
“What?” his shout filled the room. “You’re insane! She’s Lorraine!”
“Oh, that she is,” Eden shot back. “And she had all of us jumping through her hoops.”
“Eden, cut to the chase.” Noah’s patience wearing thin evident to all.
“Okay,” Eden started. “It seems Lorraine was responsible for all the site problems that came up that only you could handle,” she told Noah. “Not Lawrence.”
“Eden what are you talking about?” Noah had no idea what was going on.
“Lorraine knew how much it bothered me when I didn’t come here anymore after Morgan was born. So did Lawrence. Only Lawrence didn’t use it to his advantage to have an affair with me.”
“So, what did he use it to his advantage for?” Noah demanded.
“Noah,” Lawrence called to him. Once Noah looked at him, he continued. “At the time Morgan was born and Eden became a stay-at-home mom, Lorraine began pulling away from our marriage.”
“Nooooo,” Noah told him. “That’s when you pulled away and started going after my wife!”
“You just won’t listen to reason will you Noah?” Eden demanded, now standing and looking at him.
“Just because you and Lawrence didn’t work out, it’s not a reason to go after Lorraine.”
“Noah! Would you for once open your eyes? Look at her!” Eden’s shout filled the quiet office. Eden walked over and stood next to Lorraine. “Gee, ya think she could try just a little bit harder to become me?”
Noah walked over and stood before Eden. “Okay, so she thinks she’s interested in me. I got that.”
“You got that?” Eden was incensed. “Cutting her hair, dressing like me, you finally figured it out?”
“Eden, I’m not going to listen to your thinking she and I were interested in each other before your accident.”
“Fine!” Eden stormed over to the adjoining door. “Then it won’t bother you that she was the one who ordered sub-standard supplies for your projects and blamed her own husband.”
Noah raced over and grabbed Eden’s arm. “Wait!”
As Eden stood there, looking at him after he released his hold on her, he tried to digest this. Lawrence wanted his wife! He had since they’d both seen her in college.
“No, it can’t be,” Noah spoke softly in disbelief then turned to face Lorraine. “You didn’t. You couldn’t.”
“Noah, c’mon,” she nervously laughed. “We talked about how these two were together.”
“Lorraine?” Noah asked.
Eden had had enough. “That’s it! I will not stand here and have to defend myself!” She stormed into her office, retrieved some papers and came back. “Here!” She shoved the papers at Noah. “I’ve spent the past three weeks clearing up and cancelling the orders of these sub-standard supplies,” Eden told him. “These are the ledgers only Lorraine had the program to. There is no way Lawrence could have changed those orders. The foremen brought their orders here and she changed them. Once the sites started having problems and noticing the sub-standard supplies coming in, she had you jumping through hoops to fix it.” She simply stared at him.
“She couldn’t have,” Noah’s voice soft as he looked away from Eden and down in embarrassment. “She wouldn’t have.”
“She could and she did. Only no one could figure it out. Because she and she alone had the ledger program, she figured she wouldn’t get caught.”
“No,” Noah said, continuing to look down, not believing what he was hearing.
“Ugh!” Eden was frustrated. She threw her hands in the air and walked into her office, Lawrence following.
“He has the proof in his hot little hands, and still he questions me!” Eden shouted, venting at Lawrence.
Noah stood just out of sight, listening.
“Eden, they all simply say L. Larson.”
Eden paced. “I will not justify myself! I will not lay out for him that I’ve spoken to every single one of those suppliers and not one of them has ever spoken to you. Her name is all over those orders on their end.”
Noah watched as Lawrence stepped closer to her and gathered her close. Her words breaking his heart.
Eden sobbed as Lawrence hugged her to his chest. “Lawrence, you should hear the foremen talk at lunch. Every time they called the office about sub-standard supplies or an issue that came up, Lorraine always told them Noah would come. Never you.” Eden hiccupped a sob. “She knew he needed to concentrate on the senior housing project. Knew Noah’s Ark needed it financially. But, because you got all hot under the collar over it, she set you up. God Lawrence, she set us both up. And she was willing to have the Ark fail. Why?”
Noah slowly turned to face Lorraine. Now he saw the guilt on her face.
“Noah, I can explain,” Lorraine tried, holding her hand up in defense. “Lawrence asked me to place those orders…”
Noah stalked over to stand before her. “Don’t!”
“Just look at them Noah!” Lorraine shouted at him. “Tell me you can’t see that something’s been going on between them!”
Noah turned his head and watched as Lawrence stood before his wife, his hands at Eden’s shoulders as Eden spoke too softly for Noah to hear.
Eden looked at Lawrence, instinctively knowing she could now trust him.
“Get me out of here,” she whispered as silent tears cascaded down her face.
Lawrence could see how this was tearing up Eden. This whole attraction of Lorraine’s was now boiling over.
“C’mon, let me take you home,” Lawrence responded to her as he slid his arm around her shoulders. As he turned to leave the office, his eyes locked with Noah’s. He simply shook his head before walking Eden out of the building.
“Noah, please. You don’t understand. Eden isn’t the one for you,” Lorraine began.
“Who the hell are you to decide that!” Noah angrily paced before her. “My God Lorraine, she’s the mother of my son! Did Morgan ever come into play in your little game?”
“I’d have made a wonderful step-mother for…”
“If you even think about questioning Eden’s ability as a mother, I swear…” he let the threat hang in the air.
“You can’t possibly still love her!” Lorraine shot back.
“You know damn well I’m still in love with my wife! Always have been!”
“We all know she was simply the best way to get clients to sign with us,” Lorraine countered.
Noah turned and looked at her as though she were a complete stranger. Before him wasn’t the vulnerable woman who spoke of her husband’s rejection. The woman who offered support and encouraging words. Told him repeatedly to give Eden space, which eventually led to her leaving. Standing before him now was a woman who repulsed him.
“You,” he growled. “You were the one who filled her head making her think she was a trophy! How dare you?” he demanded.
“How dare I?” she shouted back. “You told me yourself! The only connection you still felt for her were through the client meetings.”
When he’d confided that in her, he’d felt it was the only connection he had left to Eden. And Lorraine had used it against him.
“What did you do to her?” his anger apparent in his low growl.
“I simply opened her eyes to it. All those dinner parties. Playing perfect little hostess. Reminding her that once the party was over, you wouldn’t look at her the same.”
“Get out,” his growl startled her.
“Noah, please. We can talk about this.”
“Get out before I throw you out!”
“Throw me out? I did you a favor!”
“A favor? Are you insane?”
“You weren’t happy Noah. Honestly, you were downright miserable. Eden shut you out, remember?”
“Did you leave her a choice?!”
“She had plenty of choices Noah! Whether you want to believe it or not, that little tramp had something going on with Lawrence!”
“Don’t!” he warned again.
“I did you a favor and you know it!”
“Ruining my marriage was a favor?!”
“Yes! You were the one who didn’t want her here anymore Noah! Yet, when she decided to take her independence, you went soft!” she shouted at him. “I did what you wanted all along! I gave you your freedom!”
Noah’s blood was beyond boiling. All this time. All these years, he’d been confiding in the one person who was making the rift between him and his wife wider and wider. Listening to Lorraine talk about how strong she thought Eden was. How she missed the friendship the two of them had once shared. All the while, she was causing damage behind his back. He’d never know all Lorraine had said and done over the years. It didn’t matter. The damage had been done.
Noah quickly walked to stand before her. He couldn’t believe the amount of hatred flowing through his veins at the moment.
“Give me the keys and get the hell out of my office!”
“You’ll see Noah,” she looked at him determined, putting her keys in his palm. “You started all of this. I finished it for you.” She simply turned and walked away.
After hearing the front door close behind Lorraine, Noah took in a deep breath. His emotions had run all over the place tonight, from reliving his beginning with Eden to the deception of a woman he thought of as a friend for the past seven years. A woman who created a weakness in his marriage and took advantage of it. He paced a short while, trying to wrap his brain around this. The invoices and ledgers Eden had handed him proof of only some of what Lorraine had done. Lorraine’s own words showing him the hatred she held for his wife. What he couldn’t understand was why?
He cursed himself. He’d confided in her. Each and every time he mentioned how his absence was affecting Eden at home, Lorraine had simply made that issue grow. No wonder he couldn’t wrap his brain around Lawrence trying to take Eden away from him. He hadn’t, had he? Or, did Lorraine also manipulate them into having an affair?
He paced and thought a while longer. Eden had put all of this together. He needed to hear her out, finally. For all the times she mentioned Lorraine’s interest in him, he owed Eden the chance to give it to him with both barrels now. He’d have to swallow his pride and see if he could get through to Eden. For the moment, he was utterly alone.
Think Carrington. How do you fix this?
Eden sat in the passenger seat of Lawrence’s pickup truck, silent tears still flowing.
“I can’t go home,” Eden softly cried.
Lawrence took his eyes off the road a second to look at her. He hated seeing the raw hurt she was going through.
“What about Morgan?” he asked, turning his attention back to the road.
“I can’t let him see me like this.”
“Where is he?”
“Michelle is with him at my place.” She turned and looked at him. “Please.”
He gave a sigh. He knew all too well her protectiveness of her son. “Alright.”
A short time after arriving at his apartment, he found all he could do was watch as Eden let all her emotions flow. Sometime in the early morning hours, she’d finally fallen asleep as he sat with her on the sofa.
After he covered her with a blanket, he sat and watched her sleep. All the while wondering where the hell they all went from here.
He rest his head back on the sofa and let a deep breath go. Part of him wanted to hit Noah for putting her through this. Yet, he had to admit, Noah appeared to be just as much a victim as he and Eden were. He also realized there was truly nothing he could do about all the damage Lorraine had done. She was now alone.
Noah sat at his desk the next morning. He came in early, unable to sleep anyway. He’d gone to Eden’s townhouse last night and Michelle had told him she didn’t anticipate Eden coming home.
His stomach tightened. Had last night brought Eden and Lawrence together?
He grabbed his jacket and made his way to his truck.
A short time after he arrived at the office building a few miles from the Ark, he saw another pickup truck pull up in front of the building.
“Lawrence!” Noah called out to him as he made his way to the front door of the building.
Lawrence turned, saw Noah approaching and rolled his neck. So much for easing the tension.
“Where the hell is my wife?” Noah demanded once he caught up to Lawrence.
“Not here,” Lawrence answered as he pinched the bridge of his nose.
“I know she didn’t go home last night. Dammit her car is still at the Ark!”
Lawrence noticed they were gaining attention from others nearby. “Do you really want to do this out here?”
Anger radiated off Noah as he followed Lawrence into the building and into one of the suites. Larson Construction’s temporary sign hung just outside the door they entered.
“Where is she?” Noah asked again.
Lawrence turned and was just as angry. “Why don’t you ask what you really want to ask?” Lawrence shot back. “You wanna know where she woke up this morning? My place.”
Noah grabbed Lawrence by his jacket collar. “What are you up to?” Noah snarled.
“Same thing I’ve been up to the past couple of years,” Lawrence cockily retorted as he shoved Noah back.
Lawrence chuckled as Noah’s anger simmered.
“You really think that little of us don’t you?” Lawrence asked him. Noah simply glared at him. “You honestly think I’d sink so low as to seduce your wife, any woman for that matter, like this?” Lawrence shouted. “Honestly, do you think Eden would simply fall into bed with me because she’s upset?”
The men stared each other down a moment. Noah was the first to blink and turn away.
“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” Noah finally confessed.
“Believe in your wife!” Lawrence yelled at him. “You’ve had a bit of a problem with that over the years.”
“The only problem I’ve had is watching you go after my wife.”
“You really are something,” Lawrence answered. “My wife has done everything she can think of to seduce you, yet you turn it around and accuse me of going after Eden?!”
That hit a nerve with Noah. “I admit I may not have seen things…”
“Seen things?! Christ Noah, Eden told you! Did you give a shit about that? You have no one to blame but yourself Noah! Eden needed you dammit!”
“And you took that opportunity to sleep with my wife!”
Now Lawrence was getting angry. No, angrier. He finally took a swing at Noah. “I never slept with your wife!”
Noah rubbed at his jaw, looking at Lawrence intently. His gut telling him that what Lawrence said was the truth.
“Please,” Noah finally said softly, “where is she?”
Lawrence looked at Noah silently a moment. He should feel sorry for hitting him, but damn it had felt good. Lawrence hated how Noah had let Eden slip through his fingers over the years. He hated himself for letting it happen. For not doing more.
Lawrence turned away before answering, “I dropped her off at the Ark on my way here.”
As Noah turned to leave, Lawrence called out to him just as he was about to walk through the door. “You’re not going to accuse her of sleeping with me are you?”
Noah hung his head silently a moment, “No,” he finally answered.
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Noah answered while shaking his head before leaving and closing the door behind him. Noah honestly didn’t know what he could do now.
When Noah entered the front door to the Ark, Eden’s office door was closed. Trisha’s bubbly mood in stark contrast to his own. A simple greeting before going into his own office.
The rest of the morning he sat, watching the closed door between their offices. She must have closed and locked it when he was with Lawrence. Another disconnect between them.
“My heart’s not big enough,” her innocent words repeated in his mind. He was just as responsible for her heart shrinking. He hadn’t listened to her. Hadn’t given her suspicions any credit. He’d pushed her away.
He paced his office. He had to go into severe problem solving mode.
Okay, Eden is pissed. She has every right to be. But, why wouldn’t she at least let him say something? Because you wouldn’t let her defend herself, the little voice inside his head reminded him.
The office eerily quiet as the lunch hour approached. For the first time since she’d been working at the office, Noah ventured to the lunch room. He stood at the door. Amazed at its occupants. Three foremen and Trisha at the table fussing over his son. But the sight that took his breath away the most was the one cooking a delicious meal for them all. She always did cook up a storm as a coping mechanism.
“Okay guys, be honest. This is a new recipe for me,” she told them as she gave each of them their servings from the skillet. Her smile infectious among the group.
“Oh, Mrs. C. I will never understand how Mr. C doesn’t weigh a ton,” one foreman complimented.
“You kidding? I’m sure he has a workout routine to wear it off, right Mrs. C?”
It was then she noticed him standing in the doorway, watching. “Greg, I’ve warned you about talking like that around Morgan,” Eden scolded before turning away. But she didn’t turn away fast enough to hide the hurt in her eyes from him.
“Hey Boss!” they all greeted as he stepped into the room. “You’d better get some before it’s gone.”
Noah gave a heavy internal sigh. Was she gone? It was obvious by the conversation, she’d kept their personal issues out of the office. How long would that last?
He stepped up beside her at the stove. Just before his lips could brush her cheek, she whispered for only him to hear, “Please don’t.”
“Can I see you in my office when lunch is done?” he asked instead.
A stern look from Eden cut off one man’s cat call.
“Sorry,” he sheepishly apologized.
She’d trained them well. They were all like one big happy family. One he suddenly didn’t feel a part of.
“I’m sorry, Noah. I have some calls to make this afternoon.”
She felt all eyes on them. Turning to Trisha she asked, “Do you mind finishing up here and bringing Morgan to my office after?”
“Sure!” Trisha chirped.
Once inside her office, Noah closed the door behind him. Everything about her showed her defenses were up. Her arms crossed over her chest. The set of her facial expression.
He stepped closer. “Eden, I’m sorry.”
She released her arms from each other and threw them in the air in frustration. “Noah, please.”
“C’mon Eden, just hear me out.”
“Noah, now is not the time for this.”
“Then, when do you suggest Eden?”
“We’re separated Noah…”
“Funny, the crew in the lunch room didn’t seem to know.”
She could hear he was angry. At least he was able to feel something. All she felt right now, numb.
“It will all become common knowledge eventually,” she said softly.
“Eden, I know you’re upset. We all are. What Lorraine did…” Noah paced. “I don’t know how to explain what she did because I can’t understand it myself. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you before. I’m sorry for not believing in us. But,”
“But what Noah?” she nearly shouted. “You believe me now? Years I told you and you denied it.”
“Of course I denied it. I am not, and never have been, interested in Lorraine!”
“But I told you what she was doing. As far as you were concerned, it was all in my head! I was doing it to cover up my own affair.”
“An affair I never had!” she screamed at him.
“Eden, I’m sorry.”
She turned away, her back to him. “I can’t fight with you,” she emotionally told him.
He approached her and cupped her shoulders from behind. “I don’t want to fight. I want to talk.”
It was his turn to throw his hands in the air in frustration. “Can’t? Or won’t?” he demanded.
She turned to face him. Confusion written all over her face. “Noah, do you have any idea what I’ve done?” Her emotions building. “I used all of Lorraine’s manipulated information against Lawrence. How do you think I convinced him to give me his shares?”
Noah stood looking at her silently a moment. He hadn’t thought of how she’d gotten him to sign them over to her, only that she had. He simply assumed it had something to do with their affair.
His silence spurred her on. “He was a part of this Noah,” she spread her arms to indicate the business. “From the very beginning. And because of her we all lost.”
“I’m not disagreeing with you,” he finally answered more calmly. “But, none of us saw this coming. You admitted that yourself.”
“It doesn’t make what I’ve done any better.” She lowered her head. “I can’t fight with you Noah.”
“I have nothing to fight …”
“You have plenty to fight for, dammit!”
“I have nothing to fight with. Don’t you understand? How do I fight for, prove, whatever you want to call it, without memories?”
He hadn’t thought of that either. She sure had quite a bit in her arsenal for not being able to fight.
“You want proof I wasn’t having an affair. Noah I simply can’t prove it to you. We’ve both told you we weren’t. And, your lack of trust, in both of us, has done so much damage. Even though I can’t remember it, it’s still damage done.”
“Eden, can we just start over?”
“We tried that Noah. I came with a clean slate. And, it wasn’t enough.”
He turned to face her. “It was enough.”
She shook her head. “Was it? Really?”
“Mommy!” Morgan bursting into her office halted their discussion.
Noah implored her with his eyes. She simply turned away, holding their son to her. He let go the breath he’d been holding and walked to the adjoining door. Just before walking through it, he said to her over his shoulder, “Please don’t shut me out, Eden.” Leaving the door open after he passed through.
She swallowed the lump in her throat.
Noah paced his office. This was a mess. He and Eden still communicated well, when it came to work and Morgan. His lack of trust in her accusations was unsettling to him as well as her. He cursed himself for not seeing what was going on and not giving her accusations any credit. Seeing how far Lorraine had gone to create that wedge in his marriage and then pretend to be a confidant, unnerved him.
Maybe when their tempers cooled down, they could talk about this. It’s all he could pray for.
Noah needed to concentrate on something. Anything than the turmoil his life had become. With Morgan at Eden’s for the next few nights, he opted to work late.
His foot hit something under the desk. Reaching down, he found a wire bound notebook. What the…?
He opened the cover and saw Eden’s delicate handwriting filling the pages. A journal. She’d mentioned going through her journals to find answers. If so, what was one doing in his office?
Knowing it was wrong, he was intrigued. Curious. What was Eden discovering with these notebooks of hers?
The date on top of the first page was just before Morgan’s first Christmas. Pages filled with how excited she was for it. Both families would be traveling in for the big event. Her ideas on menu, decorations, gift ideas. Before him was the excitement of a young woman.
He skimmed through the month. Her notations on how excited his mother had been with Eden thinking of her new diabetic state when making food. Her sadness at the loss of her own mother not being a part of the celebration. Wondering if her mother would be proud of the mother she had become.
Further into the notebook, the new year. Excitement of things to come. Just before he turned the page, he saw it.
He sat in shock looking at the words. Why hadn’t she told him? How did he not notice?
It’s very early. I’m not sure how I feel about all of this yet. I’m scared. Morgan is such a wonderful boy. Can I possibly handle another? And Noah. What if he’s upset? Can we afford another child? I didn’t do this on purpose. I thought breastfeeding made it more difficult to get pregnant. Oh God, Morgan hasn’t been nursing as much. I need to get through Morgan’s birthday first. I can’t take away from his first birthday. I’ll tell Noah then.
He just sat there. She was afraid he’d be upset? Why?
More entries. Preparing for Morgan’s birthday. She wasn’t feeling well with this pregnancy. Questioning if she could handle it. Could she be a good mother to two children? Would Morgan feel rejected? Noah works late, will he be upset?
He couldn’t believe the uncertainty on the pages. Eden was so self-assured. Took on the world most of the time and won. The woman on these pages reminded him of this new Eden, post-accident.
Paging forward. Something had happened, but what? And then he saw a change in the handwriting. The words full of pain. Two days after Morgan’s birthday. Her birthday.
I lost the baby today. It’s all my fault. Why did I question this gift? I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant if I couldn’t handle it, yet I questioned. And now, the baby is gone. Another precious little boy.
Why didn’t Noah come? I called for him, and he wouldn’t answer. I’ve never felt so alone before. And Lawrence. How did he know to come to the house? Oh my God, if he hadn’t shown up when he did, I don’t know how I’d have made it to the hospital. I don’t know how to thank him for being there for me. He sat with me after. Just holding my hand. How can someone feel so numb? I feel so empty. My heart is broken. He kept saying he was sorry over and over. I don’t know how long we just sat there. I wanted Noah, and he couldn’t be found.
Lawrence wants to tell Noah. I can’t. He’ll hate me. I lost his son. I swear, I didn’t mean it. I’d take back all the words of doubt if I could just have that little one back. The doctor is wrong. The baby didn’t die weeks ago. He couldn’t have. I’d have loved him as much as Morgan. Why? I can’t ever let Noah know.
Noah sat back in his chair. She’d gone through a traumatic time and he couldn’t be found? Where the hell was he? He wracked his brain, coming up empty. And Lawrence had been there?
Noah now paced around the office. He remembered that time. She’d been so tired. Told him she had the flu. He had no reason to doubt her. It was also when she started pulling away. When she decided to get birth control shots. She’d just gone and done it. Not discussing it. Just deciding Morgan was enough for a while. And he remembered how angry he’d been at her decision.
“Eden, you cannot make a decision like that on your own!” he shouted at her.
“It’s my body Noah! I can do whatever I want with it,” she shouted back.
He reached for her arms, not understanding the hurt he’d seen in her eyes then.
“We talked about having a couple of kids, Eden. How can you decide to do something like this and not talk about it?”
“You’re never here, Noah! It’s not like you care anyway!”
And she’d run to their room, slamming the door behind her. He’d been so angry he hadn’t gone to her. And he should have. He’d had no way of knowing she was grieving for a child he had no idea existed for such a short period of time.
When they did make love after that, it had never been the same. She distanced herself. Slowly, over the next two years, she’d withdrawn completely. Now he at least knew how it started.
His mind fast forward to their biggest fight yet. It was shortly after Morgan’s third birthday. They’d just made love and he felt her slipping away.
“Eden,” he called as they lie on their opposite sides of the bed. “I want you to stop the shots.”
She turned her head and looked at him. “You what?”
He turned on his side and rest his head on his bent arm. “I want another baby,” he told her.
She threw the covers back, reached for her robe and stood. “No.”
He also stood, putting sleep pants on. “Morgan is three years old. How long until you give up this silly notion?”
She turned and glared at him. “Silly notion?” she shouted at him. “You think this is silly?”
“I think it’s time we had another baby. I’ve been patient with this Eden. I thought you’d come to your senses by now.”
“My senses?” her shout even louder. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe I don’t want another child?”
“You can’t be serious! We talked about this!”
“I changed my mind.”
He reached for her arm and turned her to face him. “Dammit Eden, this isn’t something you can decide on your own!”
She yanked her arm free. “I’m happy with just Morgan.”
He looked at her in utter disbelief. “What the hell is with you?” he demanded.
“With me? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Christ Eden, I don’t even know who you are anymore! I love you! I want a family with you!”
“We have a family.” She turned and made her way to the bathroom. Her after sex shower.
He was getting angrier by the second. They didn’t have a family. They had whatever she deemed it to be.
He’d held back for years. Waiting for his Eden to return. And, with his temper at a fever pitch, it’s when he finally made his confrontation.
“It’s Lawrence, isn’t it?”
She stopped and turned. “What’s Lawrence got to do with this?” she demanded.
He stared intently at her. “I know there’s been something between the two of you for quite some time! I’m sick of being treated this way!” He hastily walked over to her, grasping one of her arms and looking deeply into her eyes. “You are MY wife Eden! Start acting like it!”
She yanked her arm free. “You think you own me?”
“I don’t own you. I love you. For God’s sake, whatever it is I’ve done to make you this angry all this time, please tell me!”
He couldn’t read the expression that fell down her face at the time. Now he recognized it as withdrawing.
“I’m not angry with you Noah,” her voice calmer. She lifted her face to look at him. “I just don’t love you anymore.”
The shock that rolled through him was overpowering. He just stared at her. Speechless. Her eyes were void of any emotion. Eyes he used to look into and get lost in. Now, she was lost to him.
His hurt matched his anger. He went to the door. Just before he walked through it, she said to him, “Maybe Lorraine will give you a baby Noah.”
She fought dirty. She found just the knives to dig in deeper.
He closed the door and went back to stand before her. “Even if you don’t,” he spat, “I take my vows seriously. There is nothing between Lorraine and me.”
“I don’t recall obey being one of those vows Noah,” she hissed back.
“And I believe adultery also goes against those vows!” he shouted back. “You’re accusing me just to take the spotlight off you and him! I’m not stupid, nor am I blind Eden.”
“Neither am I!” she screamed at him.
“Dammit Eden, what’s happened to you?” he demanded.
Morgan’s cries indicating their fight had woken him up…again. Eden did as she always had; ignored him and went to their son.
From that night on, he slept in the guest room. Hoping things would cool down. Hoping against hope that she did still love him.
After two hours of pacing and asking himself over and over “why?” he went to the phone.
“Hey,” he called into the phone once it was answered. “Don’t hang up. I need to see you.” A pause. “Please, you’re the only one who can help me.”
After hanging up the phone, he sat in the dimly lit office. He recognized the emotion flowing through him. Grief. He was grieving for a son. For the young wife he lost in the process.