"And now, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the first dance of our newlyweds." a member of the band announces over the microphone. I look over to my husband and a warmth spreads through me as I watch him. He turns his head, that hint of a smile on his lips that seems to be reserved just for me.
"Shall we?" he asks and we get up while our guests start applauding. I smile and nod as I take the hand he offers me to lead me around the table to the dance floor.
"I can't believe we agreed to this." he chuckles as he slides his arm around my waist, pulling me closer before we start dancing to the music. I peer up at him, seeing an amused glimmer in his eyes.
"I don't remember you resisting that much against this big wedding." I tease him.
"How could I resist to something that would ensure I get to dance with you?" he winks at me, drawing me even closer. I smile at him before I rest my cheek against his, closing my eyes.
"And it felt right to say my vows to you in front of our family and people we care about. As tempting as eloping sounded, I liked this better." he whispers into my ear after we've danced silently for a while. I pull back a little so our eyes meet and once more I'm overwhelmed by the love I see in his, telling me again I made the right choice by saying yes.
"I love you, Alicia." he adds softly, placing a kiss on my temple.
"I love you too, Peter." I reply, no longer surprised how easy the words come to me.
I lean in to brush my lips briefly against his, as I think about how much it means to me to say and hear these three little words again. To hear them from Peter and being able to tell him I feel the same.
He pulls me closer again and my head comes to rest at his shoulder once more. I shut my eyes, enjoying his closeness as we continue dancing until the music fades. I lift my head slowly, not yet ready to let go of him and I see the same hesitation in his eyes. He holds his hand in place on my waist and we silently agree to keep on dancing as the band starts playing a new song when I see someone approach us, through the other dancing couples, in the corner of my eye.
"I'm sorry to disturb." Eli appears next to us.
"No, you're not." Peter chuckles as we stop dancing to face him. "What's up, Eli?"
"Well, you told me we could take pictures for the press outside the church and also some during reception. Could we do them now?" his eyebrow twitches nervously.
"Now? I'm dancing with my wife, Eli." Peter sighs but I see a smile tugging at his lips, like he's happy he's allowed to call me 'his wife' again.
"It'll only take a minute and I already found Zach and Grace." he gestures to the side of the dance floor where our kids stand next to the photographer, I noticed earlier outside the church. I watch Zach and Grace, painfully realizing again they are no longer kids with Zach already in his third year at college and Grace just started her first a few weeks ago. My glance stays with Zach and the images from his birthday last year appear before me as that's when it all began again.
"Here you go, Mrs. Florrick. The keys to your suite on the top floor. A bell boy will accompany you and your daughter and will take care of your luggage."
"Wait, I didn't reserve a suite. You clearly made a mistake here." I tell the concierge, pushing the key cards back on the counter.
"Oh, but I have a reservation for a suite for Florrick for 4 nights. Made two days ago." he tells me, looking up from his computer screen.
"I made my reservation a couple of weeks ago. A deluxe room for 3 nights." I tell him, slightly annoyed as I just want to go to the room and relax for a bit. The flight from Chicago to Washington was exhausting, not to mention the week that lies behind me.
"Let me check that, Mrs. Florrick. I'll be back shortly." the concierge smiles at me before he walks through a door behind the check-in.
"Don't you have our keys yet, Mom?" Grace appears next to me, carrying some magazines she bought at the newsstand in the lobby.
"No." I sigh. "They apparently screwed up our reservation." I reach for my purse, retrieving my cell from it to check if I've gotten any messages.
"I'm sure they'll sort it out." Grace smiles at me, putting the magazines in her bag.
"And put that away." she points at my cell. "You promised me not to work over the weekend. That includes checking your messages, Mom."
"Yes, I did." I sigh as I press the off-button and let the device fall back in my purse. This earns me a smile from my daughter.
"We seem to have two reservations in your name, Mrs. Florrick. Anyone else from your family also staying here this weekend?" the concierge appears again and I shake my head at his question.
"Dad!" Grace exclaims suddenly.
"I don't think your Dad…." I trail off as my glance follows hers and I see Peter walking towards the reception, a blonde woman by his side, clutching his arm. I sigh silently as I recognize her from the pictures. It's Jane, the new woman, as the press called her just after it became public that they were dating. I've known of her a couple of weeks longer as Peter had introduced her to our kids and Grace told me her father had a new girlfriend. I have avoided meeting her so far. Not that there is still much contact between Peter and me since our divorce, aside from the occasional phone calls about the kids. But I remember escaping any chance of meeting him with Jane during the few months they've been together by finding an excuse. Usually work, which isn't an excuse at all as I am busier than ever since I've been elected State's Attorney.
"Looks like the reservation of the suite is from my ex-husband." I turn to the concierge just as Grace stops in front of her father and they share a hug.
"No problem, Mrs. Florrick. I have the keys to your deluxe room right here. A bell boy will help with your luggage when you are ready to go to your room." he hands me two key cards which I put in my purse before I reluctantly turn to walk over to join my daughter.
"Hi, Peter." I approach them.
"Hello Alicia." Peter extends his hand which I grab, but he pulls me closer, to place a kiss on my cheek. I'm a little surprised at this greeting as it's a first since we got divorced. I quickly step back, turning towards Jane.
"Jane, this is Alicia, Zach and Grace's mother. Alicia, this is Jane." Peter's glance wanders from me to his girlfriend as he introduces us. I might be wrong but he seems nervous as I shake hands with Jane, who's eyeing me curiously, a smile on her lips that looks forced to me.
"What are you doing here, Dad?" Grace asks and we all turn to her.
"I have a meeting here on Monday and as it's your brother's birthday we decided to come early to get a chance to celebrate with him." Peter replies, pulling our daughter towards him. "It's great you are here, too. I haven't seen you in a while, young lady."
I think I can hear a trace of disappointment in his voice. It's true though what he says. Grace hasn't been to see him in Springfield in a long time. They just had the occasional dinner when he was in Chicago and as I asked her about that, she always tried to worm her way out of it, saying she was too busy with school at first. But I kept asking and eventually she admitted that she doesn't like Jane. I know too little of her to come to a verdict yet, but as my glance meets her, the expression on her face tells me she is not at all happy Grace and myself are here as well.
"I know, Dad. But school is really demanding in my last year. I'm already reversing for finals," Grace tells her father and he nods as I feel a sad smile on my lips.
"I understand, honey." Peter smiles sympathetically at Grace, though I still detect a hint of regret in his eyes.
"We should check in, Love." Jane interrupts, again clutching Peter's upper arm and I resist to roll my eyes at the sight.
"Sure, Babe. Just a second. Why don't you go ahead?" he states before he turns to Grace again. I swallow hard as I hear him address Jane with the same term he used to call me during our marriage and I barely notice that she walks away.
"What are your plans over the weekend? Any chance we can meet with Zach? Just the three of us? Would that be ok for you, Alicia?" Peter's glance switches to me but I don't realize he's talking to me at first. My mind is still busy processing his earlier words while wondering why it bothers me at all.
"Mom?" Grace's voice brings me back and I just nod though I have no idea what I was asked.
"Great. Let's call Zach later to check what his plans are on Sunday. Oh, when are you flying back?" Peter smiles at Grace.
"On Monday, Dad." Grace returns her father's smile while I try to make sense of their conversation.
"Then it's a date. Just Zach, you and me on Sunday." Peter slides his arm around Grace's shoulders, pulling her to his chest and placing a kiss on the crown of her head. Grace returns the hug and it dawns on me what I have agreed to.
"Let's go to our room now, Grace." I tell her, pushing the thought of resisting and telling Peter we already had plans with Zach away. He seems too happy I agreed to this and Grace hasn't said a word about our plans either.
"Thank you, Alicia." Peter lets go of Grace, smiling at me and reaching for my hand to squeeze it briefly. The sadness and regret is gone from his eyes and I know he's really looking forward to this time with his kids as I feel a sting in my heart as I realize that I'd love to join them but can't because we're no longer a family.
"Babe?" I turn to Alicia as she's still standing in the spot Eli interrupted our dancing while I talked to him about the photos he wants to take.
"Yes?" she replies but I get the impression she's been far away. She walks over to me, grabbing my hand.
"Are you alright? You seemed to be on another planet just now." I smile at her, interlacing our fingers as we follow Eli outside the banquet hall.
"I was just thinking about how this all started again." her glance goes around the room until she meets my eyes, smiling happily.
"No regrets, I hope." I tease her.
"No, none." she quickly replies before she leans in to brush her lips against mine.
"Can't that wait until the guests have gone?" Eli calls out and we step back from each other.
"Or would it be ok now for me to release a picture of the two of you kissing?" he raises an eyebrow at us and I know what he's referring to.
"Maybe." Alicia says, winking at me as she steps forward, next to the stairs, Zach and Grace are sitting on, waiting for what's to happen.
"Don't tell me you liked it better when we were fighting, Eli." she teases him further and he just shrugs.
"How about here on the stairs." the photographer interrupts and I join my family at the foot of the stairs, only listening halfheartedly to where she wants us to stand as Alicia's words ring in my ears. I don't like to think back at our past when all we did was fight or not talk at all, just icy stares at the few occasions we had to meet because my position asked for my wife at my side. Until the day that I couldn't take it anymore and met with a divorce lawyer, presenting Alicia with a fait accompli and ending both our misery.
I felt liberated after it was done, like a weight had been lifted from my soul though it didn't free me from the guilt I still felt from knowing that I was the one who had sealed the fate of our marriage with my infidelity. I just hoped that by finally ending it I could give both of us the chance to find the happiness again that had long been missing from our relationship.
I didn't set out to find somebody else, so Jane walking into my life happened by chance. She was the architect at some renovations that needed to be done at the Governor's mansion in Springfield. I liked her and we got to talking one afternoon about her work. I didn't fall head over heels for Jane but with time I could see myself with her and even considered a second marriage. But Zach's birthday made sure it never came to this.
"So what did you do this afternoon?" I ask my son after we all have ordered and an awkward silence has settled at the table. Alicia had spent the afternoon with Zach and Grace and I wished we could've been with them, but I had no choice than to step back as I will have them the whole day tomorrow. I showed Jane around the town during the day as she had never been to DC before.
"We walked around campus. Mom showed us where she lived while she was in college. But she didn't know where you lived as you only met each other after you already graduated."
"Did I never show you where I lived, Alicia?" I address her and she just shakes her head.
"I will show you two tomorrow." I tell my kids. "The townhouse I lived in my senior year was gorgeous. Haven't been there in ages. I could've sworn I showed you once as the little italian place we loved to go to was just around the corner." I smile at Alicia.
"Either you haven't or it slipped my mind. But I remember the Italian. You used to love their tiramisu." she returns my smile.
"Yes, that's right. I loved it so much that you tried making one yourself but it turned out a little different." I chuckle as I recall her devastated state after trying it and telling her it was awful.
"I wasn't good at cooking then." she laughs and takes a sip from her wine.
"I'd love to see where you lived as well, tomorrow." Jane chimes in.
"Oh, Babe, I'm sorry I didn't tell you that I'll meet with Zach and Grace alone tomorrow. I hardly get to see them and I thought you could go shopping. Maybe Alicia can join you." I reply, seeing her face fall.
"Oh, all right. It's ok you'll be spending time alone with them. Sure I can go shopping." she says and the disappointment in her voice is palpable.
"But I won't be able to join you, Jane. I'm sorry, but I'll be meeting an old girlfriend for lunch." Alicia declares and for a second I think I can see a glimmer of satisfaction in her eyes as she watches Jane just nod.
"You didn't tell me that, Mom. We originally had other plans for tomorrow until Dad showed up." Grace addresses her mother, a skeptical tone in her voice.
"I know, but as you are spending the day with your Dad now, I called her earlier and we are meeting for lunch." Alicia states, taking another sip from her glass and casting down her glance. I get the feeling it is a white lie to not spend time with Jane and as I think about it I can't blame her for it. It's been a bad idea of me to suggest it in the first place.
"Do you have kids, Jane?" Alicia asks once our entrees are served.
"No, I don't. My career was always more important to me than a family. That killed my marriage though." she chuckles nervously and I'm surprised about her answer, that she's addressing the reason why her marriage failed so openly.
"Oh, that's a shame. I never would've traded my kids for my career." Alicia replies while smiling at our kids. "You have no idea what you have missed. Right, Peter?" she adds, a certain snappiness in her voice as her glance rests on me.
"Sure." I nod, not sure where this is going.
"How was your vacation, Dad. You haven't told me and Zach yet." Grace asks me and I smile thankfully at her because she is steering the conversation in another direction.
"Oh, Hawaii was a dream come true." Jane answers the question, putting her hand on mine, squeezing it lightly.
"You went to Hawaii?" Alicia looks up from her food, putting her silverware down and for a second I can see the shock in her face.
"Yes, we spent a week in Hawaii." I sigh, wondering if there is a safe topic at all for us to talk about. "Jane wanted to go for her birthday." I add to make clear that it wasn't my idea though I wonder at the same time why Alicia is clearly hurt by the fact I went to Hawaii with Jane. She had been the one stalling our trip there to renew our vows when I still had hope for our marriage.
"I guess Hawaii is nice but do you remember our RV trip?" she asks us, watching Zach and Grace.
"Yeah, that was fun, Mom. Especially the night you insisted there was a bear lurking around the mobile home and you wouldn't calm down until Dad said he would keep watch outside for the rest of the night." Zach laughs.
"You had to tell that, right?" she playfully slaps him on the wrist before she joins in his laughter.
We reminisce for a while about that trip.
"That was a great vacation. One of the best while you were still little." I conclude, smiling at my kids, before I turn and extend the smile to Alicia as well and I feel happy as she returns it.
"We had good times." I tell her and she nods, still smiling.
"Peter and I are going to Paris over Christmas and New Years. Did he already tell you that?" Jane interrupts the silence that has settled.
"What?" Zach and Grace ask simultaneously.
"We thought we would go skiing together after Christmas." Grace voice sounds disappointed.
"Nothing is decided yet, Grace. We only talked about it." I try to calm her down, shooting an angry glance at Jane.
"But I already booked the hotel, Peter. You can still go skiing once we are back." Jane goes on.
"Can we discuss this later." I hiss under my breath, shooting her another warning look.
"Sure." she whispers and I hope she won't bring the topic up again.
"So, anyone up for dessert?" I ask Alicia and the kids but they all just shake their heads and I assume the dinner is over.
Jane and I get back to our suite at the hotel half an hour later. I head for the living room to pour myself a scotch. I fall on the couch and kick my shoes away as she steps up to me.
"Was it necessary to humiliate me like this in front of your kids? They don't like me anyway." she starts and I close my eyes for a moment.
"I did humiliate you? How?" I reply before I take a large sip from my drink.
"Telling me to shut up. Nobody ever told me that." she exclaims.
"I didn't tell you to shut up. I just asked you to discuss the matter of the trip to Paris later." I reply in a normal voice.
"And regarding my kids not liking you: Do you think you scored points by telling them the skiing trip won't take place?" I add, trying to swallow the anger I feel rising up inside.
"You never told me the skiing was supposed to happen after Christmas." she snaps back.
"I did tell you. And when else should it be? We can only go during school holidays. You would know that if you ever had kids." I hiss, tired of this conversation.
"Is this how it's gonna be, Peter? Me always coming second to your kids?" she challenges me and I take another sip from my drink.
"Well, they are my family, Jane. They will always come first. Especially with the little time I have with them and how I cut their childhood short with the biggest mistake I ever made." I murmur, guilt rushing through me.
"Are you talking about your kids now or do you still count Alicia as your family? You mainly hurt her with your cheating."
"I hurt them by hurting their mother. Grace wasn't able to look at me when she came to visit me the first time in jail. You have no idea how much it hurt me to see them in pain. You will never be able to relate to that. When you have kids they are the most important thing in the world. And that will never change for me, Jane."
"Ok, good so I'll try to get used to coming second to your kids, but will I also always come second after Alicia?" she whispers, sitting down on the armchair opposite the couch.
"What do you mean? We're divorced." I sigh, putting my glass down on the table.
"Didn't look like that to me. You still consider her your family." she stares at me and I know she's hoping I will tell her she's wrong. But I say nothing, just stare at the floor.
"Tell me I'm wrong, Peter. Tell me she's nothing more than your ex-wife." she pleads, desperation in her voice. I look up and she's still staring at me.
"And why did you call me 'Babe' tonight? You never called me that ever before." she stands up, walking the two steps to the table, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"That's what you called her, right?" she challenges me.
"I'm done explaining myself." I reach for my shoes and stand up after I put them on again. Deep down I know the answer to her question why I called her 'Babe', but I refuse to admit it, not even to myself.
"What are you doing?" she follows me as I walk towards the door.
"I'll go for a walk. I need air." I exclaim, my hand on the knob.
"No, you will stay here and we'll finish discussing this, Peter." she yells at me. I push the handle and open the door a bit. She rushes towards me, pushing it shut again.
"Please, Peter. If our relationship means anything to you will you please stay?" she murmurs, placing her hand on mine.
"Alright." I sigh, stepping away from the door and follow her back into the living room.
"What do you want to hear, Jane?" I ask her as I sit down on the couch once more.
"That I'm wrong. That you no longer have feelings for Alicia." she sits down next to me, her glance at the floor.
"I will probably always have feelings for Alicia. She's the mother of my kids and through them we'll always be connected. And I wouldn't want to change that." I tell her and she peers up.
"I'm not sure I can live with that, Peter. I'm not used to coming second, maybe even third." I inhale sharply as I hear the severity in her tone.
"What do you mean?" I turn my head to look at her.
"That I think it's better if we break up, Peter." she also looks at me and her glance tells me she is certain.
I'm tired of fighting and so I just nod. This isn't the first fight we had, about my kids and I'm not going to sacrifice my relationship with them for her. I endangered it once and was luckily able to save it then.
"Ok, I'll go get my stuff and see if I can get another room. You can stay here, Jane." I get up and walk into the bedroom to pack my suitcase. If I'm honest I feel relieved about our break up.
"I will fly home tomorrow, so you can get back into the room for the rest of your stay." she tells me as I walk out of the room.
"Ok, good night and good-bye, Jane."
"Good bye, Peter." she followed me to the door and closes it behind me.
I go down to the reception to get another room for the night and as I wait at the counter my glance wanders to the adjacent bar area and I see Alicia sitting at one of the tables. She is alone and after a split second I decide to walk over.
"Can I put this behind your counter for a while? I'll be over at the bar." I wave to the concierge who is busy with another guest and as he nods I walk around the check-in and place my suitcase against the wall before I cross the lobby towards the bar.
"Hey!" I greet her as I approach the table.
"Hi." she puts her glass of red wine down and looks at me puzzled.
"Where is Grace?" I ask, trying to find something to talk about.
"Oh, she stayed at Zach's dorm. When we arrived there some of his friends had gathered for a surprise birthday party and she insisted on staying. She will also spend the night there. Zach has a couch in his room. And where is Jane?" she raises an eyebrow at me.
"She's upstairs in the room. I wanted to take a walk, but decided for a night-cap instead." I conceal what really happened and try to smile but from her expression I fail miserably.
"You had a fight, right?" she states and I just nod.
"You want to sit down and tell me about it?" she gestures to the armchair next to her.
"Yes to sitting down, but I'm not sure I should tell you about my fight with Jane. That would be weird, right?" I chuckle as I sit down and wave the waitress.
"You are right. That would be weird." she grins at me and finally we both laugh.
"So, how are you?" she asks me once I ordered my drink.
"In general good. Not counting right now." I smile weakly at her.
"Oh, that bad a fight?" she asks but I get from her tone that she isn't expecting an answer.
"It wasn't in the league we played in before our divorce but it was bad enough." I sigh and she just watches me.
"I'm sorry, Peter."
"It's ok. I'm just not used to fighting over my kids. That's one point we always agreed on. They always came first. But she doesn't get it. You touched a sore point there during dinner." I sigh after the waitress brought my scotch.
"Oh, I wouldn't have said anything if I'd known this would trigger a fight between the two of you. I thought she really never wanted kids, not that she couldn't have any."
"No, she never wanted kids and that is the problem. She can't relate to me in that matter, that I'll always be there for my kids and that she might always lose out on them. We fought about this before." I take a sip from my drink and Alicia stays silent, emptying her glass.
"Now I've told you anyhow." I sigh as I put my glass down. "Can I order you another one?" I ask her, nodding towards her empty glass but she shakes her head.
"I'm sorry you're having this kind of trouble, but I can't help you on that as I can't understand why she'd pick a fight with you over that. It's natural that your kids come first. But then again I'm a mother. Maybe I'd think otherwise if I wasn't." she smiles sympathetically at me. I return the smile, thinking about what she would say if I told her why the fight escalated. And that Jane broke up with me over it.
"I wasn't expecting any advice. It just felt good to tell someone who understands me." I thank her, while the I try to swallow the need to reveal the whole extend of the fight to her.
"Sure." she smiles at me. "I should go to bed. I want to hit the museums early." she finally states, getting up from her chair.
"Museums?" I raise an eyebrow at her. "Didn't you say you'll be meeting a friend for lunch?"
"Yes, I will…but I'm going to see some museums before that." she slightly stammers, avoiding my gaze.
"No need to lie any longer. I'm sorry for suggesting you should go shopping with Jane. That was a mistake." I smile apologetically at her and she peers up again.
"How could you tell I was lying?" she asks curiously.
"I just know you, Alicia." I whisper and she smiles, putting her hand on my shoulder.
"Yes, you do. Good night, Peter." she bends down and places a kiss on my cheek before she walks away. I want to turn and watch her leave but don't. Instead I reach for my drink, letting the ice cubes swirl in the amber liquid.
I down the last sip after a while before I get up to finally walk over to reception to get a room for the night. This time there are no other guests in front of me and I get to voice my request right away.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Florrick. We have no rooms available for tonight. We are booked solid over the weekend." the concierge shrugs apologetically at me and I repress a curse.
"Great. Are there any other hotels nearby who might have a vacancy?" I ask him.
"As far as I know they're all booked. There is a big dog show in town and several exhibitions. But isn't somebody from your family also staying here? Maybe they can let you sleep on their couch? Or we could provide a cot. That would be no problem." he offers.
"Thank you. I will check and get back to you." I smile. "Would you please hand me my suitcase from back there?" I gesture behind him and he complies. I sigh while I walk over to the sitting area in the middle of the lobby to think about my options. Should I really ask Alicia if I could crash on her couch?
"Could you please step up next to your wife, Mr. Florrick?" the photographer addresses Peter, but his gaze is at a point behind me and he doesn't react.
"Peter?!" I call out and his glance becomes focused again.
"I'm sorry, where do you want me to go?" he smiles irritated at the photographer who repeats her request.
"Sure." he states and climbs the few steps to stand next to me.
"Are you ok?" I whisper.
"Why wouldn't I be?" he smiles at me.
"You seemed absent." I state, peering up at him.
"Just a memory." he whispers as his hand wanders around my waist, pulling me close.
"About what?" I ask him curiously.
"You." he smiles, leaning in to brush his lips briefly against my temple. I reach for his hand at my waist and squeeze it as I return the smile.
We spend the next ten minutes on the stairs, posing in various combinations for Eli's pictures and I really agree to some shots of Peter and me kissing which rewards me with a momentarily speechless Eli.
"How about just one more with the four of you sitting on the stairs?" the photographer suggests and Eli, who has recovered from his shock, nods his head eagerly, pushing Grace and Zach back towards us.
"But that'll be the last ones." I state as I see Susan, our wedding planer, waving at me from behind Eli's back. A few moments later the photographer thanks us and I walk over to Susan.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, Alicia, but it's time to cut the cake." she explains and I nod.
"Finally!" my kids exclaim and I hear Peter's deep laughter behind me.
We return to the banquet hall and all our guests are already gathered around the cake, so we make our way through the crowd to cut it.
"Nicely done." my mother's voice from behind my back startles me slightly as we put the just cut piece of cake on a plate.
"What do you mean, Mom?" I peer towards her, while I lick some frosting from my thumb.
"According to a european custom the one who has the hand on top of the partners while cutting the cake will call the shots in the marriage. This time it's your turn, Alicia." she smirks at Peter.
"Why don't you let me worry about that, Mom? Cake?" I reply quickly as I see Peter open his mouth, offering my mother the plate.
"No, the first piece belongs to the bride and groom." she states and I smile at her as I see a tiny smile tug on her lips as she steps back. I know my mother and appreciate this as a peace-offering.
"Careful." I warn Peter as he takes the cake in his hand to feed me. "I don't want cake on my dress."
"Would that mean you'd have to take it off?" he whispers while he cautiously holds the piece inches away from my lips.
"Probably." I nod at him.
"Then I wouldn't mind getting you a little dirty, so I could help you out of it." he breathes while his glance wanders from my lips to my eyes.
I take a bite, my eyes locked with his and my mouth gets dry as I see the unspoken promise in his gaze.
"Patience." I murmur after I have swallowed and taken the cake from him to feed him as well, while the prospect of him undressing me still lingers in my mind and conjures another memory.
The silence of the hotel room welcomes me after this busy day. I slip out of my high heels and kick them away as I walk to the couch to sit down. I let the day pass through my mind again and my thoughts stop at the talk I just had with Peter. I try to make sense of what I felt when he told me about the fight with Jane. Why did a part of me feel happy and why did I catch myself thinking that I wouldn't mind to hear they broke up? Is it just because I know my kids don't like her and I don't want Jane to complicate their relationship with their father? I settle for that thought because I refuse to believe the other reason that flashes through my mind though it makes my heart skip a beat. I push it far away like I'm used to do with that kind of thoughts about Peter, shaking my head at myself for allowing me to think something that ridiculous. I can't be jealous of the girlfriend of my ex-husband. I laugh about the silliness but it sounds shallow in my ears and the uneasy feeling in my stomach gets worse as I remember the way I talked to her during dinner and how I almost enjoyed that she made herself even more unpopular with my kids when she mentioned the trip to Paris. I take a deep breath to calm myself down but the thought stays with me. I reach for the remote and switch on the television, in an attempt to down out my own thoughts with the sound that moments later fills the room. A few minutes ago all I yearned for was peace and quiet but now I want nothing more than some distraction from my own thoughts. I usually have no problems keeping the feelings at bay, like those bubbling up inside me now as I'm too afraid to even admit them to myself. I wished Grace hadn't stayed at Zach's party. Maybe I wouldn't even know about their fight then as I doubt that Peter would've said something about it with Grace present. I sigh again as I aimlessly switch through the channels, but nothing attracts my attention. I switch the TV off again, throwing the remote on the table as I can't stop thinking about how I felt during the talk with Peter. I sensed his unhappiness with the situation and I remember a moment where I wanted nothing more than to hug him. But the impulse didn't come purely from wanting to comfort him.
I get up from the couch, slowly walking over to the bathroom. Maybe a shower will help me to clear my mind. I strip on the way to the bathroom, letting my clothes fall carelessly to the floor. And with every piece of clothing I take off the thoughts flood back into my mind and once the jet of water streams over me I finally admit to myself that I'm jealous of Jane. I take a moment to acknowledge this truth before I search for a reason. I can't pinpoint the source for the jealousy I feel, maybe it's born out of habit and not being used to see him with another woman. Another woman he's in love with. I remember trying so hard not to picture Peter with Amber or Kalinda, but the mind is an evil thing sometimes and always conjures images we don't want to see. So, of course I imagined him with both but I never felt jealous of them, just incredibly angry for what they had done to my marriage and my life. I push the thoughts about that part of my past away and finish my shower. I dry off as I hear a knock on the door. I grab the robe from behind the bathroom door and walk to the entrance, picking some of my scattered clothes up from the floor.
"So, did you get bored at the party?" I say as I open the door, pretty sure that my daughter stands in front of it.
"Hey!" Peter greets me and I back up a little, pressing my clothes to my chest. His glance goes from me to the room that lies behind me and I guess I blush a little as I realize that my bra and panties are still on the floor.
"I'm sorry, but I need to ask you a favor." his gaze stays in my face now and mine wanders to the floor where I see a suitcase standing next to him.
"Sure, come on in." I open the door completely before I turn and mumble a 'be right back' as I hurry to pick up the rest of my clothes and disappear into the bathroom. I stuff the clothes into a bag that stands in the bathroom, my eyes searching for something else to wear. I sigh as I realize all my clothes are in the closet next door. So I tie my robe tighter, preparing to go outside again. As I get back into the room I find Peter in the same spot as I left him, just a feet away from the door.
"What's going on with the suitcase? Do you need to leave?" I sit down on the couch again, suddenly aware how short this robe really is as I try to cross my legs without exposing too much of my thighs. I realize it's impossible as I see Peter's glance glued to my face, a hint of a smirk on his lips. I finally lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees.
"No." he sighs as he slowly walks towards me, sitting down on the couch as well.
"I wasn't completely honest with you earlier. We didn't only have a fight. Jane broke up with me." he whispers, his gaze on the floor.
"I'm sorry, Peter." I hear myself say, but inside I feel a happiness spread, so I have to bite my lip not to smile.
"Thank you." he peers up, a sad smile on his lips and I lean forward to pat his arm. His eyes meet mine but moments later they wander downwards and I realize my robe has shifted and I'm revealing a lot of cleavage. I lean back again, fixing my robe.
"But I'm not here to whine to you. I gave Jane the suite, thinking I could get another room for the night but the hotel is totally booked. So, I just wanted to ask if I could sleep on your couch?" his glance stays on my face as I inhale sharply at his words.
"I know it's a lot to ask and I will understand if you say no." he adds and I really don't know what to say.
"Would it be just for tonight?" I ask him, as I try to realize how I would feel spending the night with Peter in the same room. He nods and I still try to make sense of my hesitation. My mind tells me that it wouldn't be a big deal if he slept on the couch but another part of me feels uneasy about it.
"Sure." I finally say. "I can't have you spend the night under a bridge, can I?" I laugh in an attempt to push my insecurity away.
"Are you sure?" he peers into my eyes and I nod once again, forcing a smile to give it more emphasis.
"Thank you." he smiles and I can see some relief in his eyes.
"You can have Grace's pillow and comforter." I get up from the couch to get the bedding.
"Thanks." he says again as I put the stuff on the couch next to him and he stands as well.
"I think I caught you on your way to bed. I'll just grab a quick shower if you don't mind." he reaches for his suitcase and places it on the couch.
"Sure, I'm done in the bathroom." I smile before I turn to search for my pajamas while I hear Peter rummage through his bag. I finally find them under my pillow as Peter walks past me into the bathroom. I change fast into my nightwear as soon as I hear the door close. I switch on the bedside lamp as I hear the water start running in the adjacent room. For a split second I imagine Peter under the warm water and the memories of so many shared showers flash before my mind. I sigh deeply and close my eyes to push the images away. I walk through the room, killing all the lights, leaving only the one next to my bed and another one by the couch on. I return to the bed and crawl into it as I notice the sound of the running water has stopped. Moments later the door opens and Peter steps into the room, wearing black shorts and a white shirt. His hair is still damp from the shower and I remember how I used to love running my hands through it when we still were us. It feels like more than a life time ago, but I feel a yearning for those better times tug at my heart.
"Good night, Alicia." his voice startles me and I realize he has turned the lamp next to the couch off.
"Good night, Peter." I reply, switching the bedside lamp off as well, bathing the room in darkness. I roll on my side, hoping sleep will capture me shortly.
"Thank you again, Alicia." he whispers through the darkened room.
"You're welcome." I murmur, really meaning it this time.
I wake and for a few moments I have no idea where I am. I blink in the darkness a couple of times as I remember that I'm in a hotel in DC. I exhale slowly as the memory of last night floods back to me and swallow hard as I realize I really agreed to let Peter sleep on the couch. I try not to think about it too much and hope I will fall asleep again, but after a few minutes of tossing and turning I give in and sit up. My eyes have adapted to the darkness by now and I can make out the shapes of the furniture. I decide to get something to drink, not because I'm thirsty but just to do something. I contemplate taking the shorter route to the bathroom and just fill a glass with tab water but then I decide against it and slip out of bed to walk over to the mini bar. I know I will risk waking Peter as the fridge is directly opposite the couch but I hope if I have a sip of beer or wine I might fall asleep again. I walk slowly towards the couch and tiptoe around it. I peer at Peter's sleeping form, the comforter has slipped down to his waist and I notice his bare chest. He must have taken his shirt off as I see it lying next to the couch. My glance wanders to his face which looks so much more relaxed now than I remember it from earlier tonight. His features look soft and for a moment I feel the need to reach down and caress his cheek. I sigh deeply, clenching both my hands to fists and turn on the spot to get on with my original task, getting something from the fridge. I walk the last few steps to the counter and crouch down as I open the door to the mini bar. I squint my eyes as the light on the inside blinds me. I open them slowly again to let them wander over the contents, still not sure if I really want something. I reach for a bottle of water as I hear a sound behind me.
"Can you get me one, too?" Peter's words startle me and I slightly lose my balance. I reach for the cabinet door but before I get a hold of it I feel two hands supporting my back and pulling me up.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." his voice is directly next to my ear and I can feel his warm breath on my cheek while his hands still hold my upper arms. I also feel the warmth of his body through the thin material of my pajama top, though my back is still inches away from his chest. He lets his hands slide down my arms and I sense he will step back any second so I don't think and lean back so my head rests on his shoulder and my back is pressed against him.
"You didn't." I murmur, while my hand reaches for his. He still stays motionless behind me and it dawns on me what I'm trying to do. I close my eyes for a moment, noticing my racing heart and the heat that spreads from the places my skin touches his through my entire body. I can't do this. The thought rushes through my mind and I slowly pull my hand back from his. I feel his fingers move and I gasp slightly as he holds it back. I stand still and a deep sigh escapes me as I feel his fingertips on my neck, brushing my hair away before he places a kiss on the bend between my throat and my shoulder. His hand wanders over my back and I shudder as he places it on my waist, lightly stroking the bit of exposed skin between my top and my pajama bottoms. He keeps brushing his lips upwards my neck, kissing me behind my ear. I turn to face him, searching for his eyes in the dim light that is cast upon us from the still opened fridge. But before I can look at them he pulls me closer and his lips capture mine. My hands find his neck and I let one run through his hair as his roam my back, pressing myself to his chest. He parts his lips and I welcome his tongue with mine as they slowly explore once familiar grounds.
Start of mature part
The kiss gets more heated as his hand slides under my top, caressing my stomach lightly with his fingertips. I let mine wander over his chest as we break the kiss, both panting for air. Again I search for his eyes as our foreheads touch but he avoids my glance by kissing a trail down my cheek toward my neck and over my collarbone. His hand slides further upwards, cupping my breast in his palm, letting his thumb run over my peak gently. His mouth finds my other breast and he softly nibbles it through the thin material of my top. I moan deeply at the sensation and all doubt leaves my mind as I push my chest further against him. He stops his ministrations to search for the hem of my shirt and I lift my arms to help him get rid of it. He lets it fall to the floor and moments later his hands are roaming my body again, pulling me closer to his chest. I slide my hands around him, enjoying the feeling of his naked skin against mine, the evidence of his arousal pressed against my hip. His hand finds my chin and he pulls it up so our lips meet again in another deep kiss. I follow the curve of his spine with my fingertips as his lips leave mine again to reprise his trail down to my breasts. He bites them tenderly, letting his tongue swirl around the peak which sends jolts of heat through my body. My hands have arrived at his waistband and I follow it around to his stomach, letting my one hand rest on his hip while the other travels further down, gently stroking his erection through the soft material of his shorts. He groans deeply, lifting his head and our glances meet. His eyes are dark with desire and lust. This time I draw him in for another heated kiss while I keep on caressing his manhood. His hands travel down my body, lightly stroking my stomach before he hooks his thumbs into my pants and lets them glide down my thighs and to the floor.
He breaks the kiss to continue his treatment of my breasts, taking turns to softly lick and nibble at both until my peaks are hard and sensitive. He rests one hand on my hip while the other travels between my legs, parting my folds. He groans as his fingers slide deeper through my wetness and my head falls back and I moan his name as he starts circling my clit. He glides two fingers deep inside of me, curling them and finding my g-spot with ease. His thumb stays on my clit, intensifying the pressure which makes me whimper and my knees weak. He grabs my waist with his other hand and I hold on to his sides for support while he places feather light kisses on my exposed throat. His thumb resumes its circling movement and I feel a strong climax build. I hadn't realized until now how much I longed to be touched like this again by someone. This someone being Peter, who knows me and my body inside and out, adds to the pleasure I feel. He lets a third finger slide inside of me, deepening the pressure on my g-spot and my clit. I groan deeply and let go, the waves of my orgasm crashing over me so I go limb in his arms as I trust him to not let me fall. He pulls me closer as I cling to his shoulders, his fingers still stroking me, prolonging the high I feel. I stay in his embrace for a few moments, catching my breath with my forehead against his chest until I can trust my feet again. I lean back as his fingers leave my center and I whimper softly at the loss. I reach up to cup his face, drawing him into a kiss, slower this time but no less intense. He still holds me around my waist as his other hand finds my breast again, gently teasing the peak. I let my hands slide down his chest until they reach his shorts and I pull them down so his erection springs free, pressing against my thigh. I start stroking the soft skin, letting my thumb run over his tip and he groans into the kiss. He grabs my hand, pushing it away and before I can react he scoops me up in his arms and carries me towards the bed.
He lets me down in front of it and I crawl in. I don't lay down but stay on my knees, turning to face him. He joins me seconds later, copying my kneeling position as he draws me closer for another kiss. His hands run over my body and I let mine wander around his waist trying to let us fall to the side. He breaks the kiss and shakes his head briefly. I search his eyes again but he buries his head at my neck, kissing his way down to my breasts once more. He slowly moves around me, maneuvering me so I face the headboard of the bed all the while kissing my shoulders and neck. At first I'm confused at what he's up to but once he reaches for my hands to place them on the metal rail of the headboard I whimper in anticipation as I remember what he can do to me in this position. He kneels between my calves, kissing a trail up my spine while his hands run from my wrists along my arms until he cups my breasts in his palms. A new wave of desire pools between my legs as he slowly spreads mine with his own. I can feel his hardness on my thigh as he bends over me, his kisses reaching my neck. I turn my head and we share a slow kiss while his one hand glides over my stomach to my center, teasing my clit so I moan deeply. He breaks the kiss and I get a fleeting look at his eyes, not sure if I imagine the love mixed with the desire in them. But I have no time to linger on the thought as he increases the pressure between my folds and starts another trail of kisses down my back that leave me whimpering with longing.
"Peter…" I pant and I feel him smile against my back. He slowly moves both his hands to my hips, holding me steady and enters me moments later in one fluid motion. We both gasp at the sensation and the closeness. He stays still, just letting his hands run down my thighs and back up to my hips before he slowly slides completely out of me. I groan which turns into a whimper as he enters me leisurely again. He repeats this movement a few times, fueling my arousal. I start to meet his gentle thrusts, resulting in him increasing his rhythm. I quickly feel another powerful climax build. He bends over me again without slowing his tempo, kissing my neck and shoulders. He's panting heavily and his hot breath on my cheek drives me crazy. I turn my head and we share a deep kiss as I feel his fingers on my clit again. He circles it softly but it is enough to send me spiraling over the edge. His final thrusts prolong the waves rushing through me, prickling through every fiber of my being as he follows me seconds later. He buries his head in my neck, his arms sliding around my stomach and I let go of the rail, again trusting that he will hold me. He presses me to his chest and I find his fingers, interlacing them with mine while we both catch our breath. Somehow we manage to lay down and I turn in his embrace, putting my face on his chest. The last thing I notice is him covering us with the comforter and a soft kiss on my hair before sleep captures me.
End of mature part
"Babe?" I turn at the sound of Peter's voice, a confused look on my face.
"Susan's been calling for you a few times. You've been far away again, right?" I just nod while I look into his eyes, happily taking in the love I see in them as it chases the sad memory from the morning after our love-making away.
He had been already up as I woke and it looked like he wanted to sneak out while I was still sleeping and still feeling his hands and burning kisses on my body. We didn't say much before he left but I got the impression he counted it as a mistake and I was too confused by all the emotions rushing through me to ask. So I just stayed in bed until he had left, dragging me to the shower later where the hot water washed away my tears. I pulled myself together through the day, wandering through DC, the city I had so many memories of, especially happy ones with Peter. Now a sad one was added and it made me see the city with new eyes. I managed to avoid him that day while he spent time with our kids and I breathed a sigh of relief as the plane took off the following day, hoping with the distance the memory would fade as well. How wrong I had been.
"Alicia? I need you to throw the bouquet. The ladies are getting impatient and your brother as well." she chuckles and I smile at her words as I nod and take the bouquet from her we had made especially for this. No way I'm giving away my own. I follow her to the entrance hall, where most of the single women have gathered and spot my brother among them.
"Please aim at me, sis." he hisses towards me as I pass him, but I just shrug my shoulders at him.
I climb the stairs and as I turn I see that the rest of our guests has followed me outside, standing behind the hopefuls. I let my eyes wander over them and finally spot my husband, winking at me. I smile back before I turn. Once I have my back towards the crowd I throw the bouquet over my head and from the squealing behind me I don't need to look around to know that my brother has caught it. As I eventually turn Owen beams up at me, waving the bouquet in his arms and I can't help that more memories flood to me as I walk down the stairs.
"Hey, sis." Owen greets me as I open the door. I sigh at the unexpected visit as I'd rather spent the evening on my own, curled up on the couch, glad that the world stays outside. I've spent many evenings, when Grace wasn't at home, like this since we returned from DC.
"I have some news!" Owen exclaims as he follows me to the kitchen. I retrieve another glass from the cupboard and place it next to mine. Owen's knock had interrupted me as I was in the process to pour one for myself.
"What news?" I ask half-interested while I remove the cork from the bottle.
"Your ex is single again." he tells me, waving a news article at me.
"That is no news to me." I state as I fill both glasses, peering up briefly to see Peter's face under some headline I don't bother to read.
"So, you already knew? How? From the kids, right? Why didn't you tell me?" he goes on as I take the wine and walk into the living room.
"No, actually I was the first to know. Happened in DC while we were there for Zach's birthday." I say as I sit down on the couch and take the first sip from my wine. Moments later Owen lets himself fall down beside me, grabbing his own glass from the table.
"And you waited a whole three weeks to tell me?" he accuses me while I just shrug, taking another sip from my wine.
"You've been awfully quiet about that trip anyhow." he goes on, but I stay silent, kicking myself already for the little I said.
"Something happened there. You've been weird since then. Grace said so too." he murmurs.
"What did Grace say?" my head snaps around.
"That everything was fine at Zach's birthday dinner, you and Peter getting along quite well. But the next morning when she returned from the party you were in a mood and left before Peter showed up to pick her up for their day together. It's got to have something to do with Peter, because when Grace asked him if something had happened he reacted strange too." he tells me and I sigh.
"Come on, Alicia. What happened?" I feel his stare at me, but I keep my glance down.
"I won't stop until you tell me. How bad can it be? You surely didn't sleep with him." he chuckles and I stiffen at his words, inhaling sharply. I hope he didn't realize that I reacted like this, but I see him tilt his head in the corner of my eyes.
"You didn't, Alicia?" he gasps and I stare into my glass because I know the second I look at him he will see the truth in my glance.
"Your silence says more than 1000 words, sis." he states and I know that denying is no longer an option, so I just nod slightly.
"It just happened, Owen. We met by chance in the bar that night and he told me about a fight with Jane. Then he showed up at my room, telling me she had broken up with him and he asked if he could spend the night on my couch because she had kicked him out and the hotel was completely booked. I woke during the night and he woke too and then it just happened." I mumble and see in my brother's glance that I'm not making too much sense.
"Were you drunk?" he asks and I firmly shake my head.
"No, as I said it just happened." I repeat, not willing to go into details like I was the one who initiated it.
"Well, that doesn't explain your mood, though." he starts his grilling again and I sigh loudly.
"What mood?" I challenge him.
"The mood you've been in since you got back. Grace tells me you work even more than before and the nights you don't spend in your office you stay home on the couch." he gives an exact recap of my past weeks.
"Something else must've happened in DC. Not just a trip down memory lane with your ex-husband." he snorts and I raise my eyebrow at him.
"You wouldn't understand, Owen." I sigh and empty my glass. I get up to get a refill, hoping to put an end to this conversation but he follows me into the kitchen.
"Try me, Alicia. I might not have understood a lot you did in the last couple of years, like why you didn't divorce Peter right away or why you broke up with Will. But I was always there for you when you allowed me to be. So I think I would find it in me to support you now, even if you told me you fell in love with Peter again, because that's what I would have the most trouble understanding." he explains and I can't overhear the different tones in which he says Peter's and my deceased boss's name.
"And what if I told you I never fell out of love with him? That I only thought I did in all the pain following Will's death. And that I regretted ever signing the divorce papers more than once?" I sigh, not at all sure why I tell him that as I have never admitted it to myself before. But part of me feels better in an instant after I voiced it. I turn my head to look at my brother as seconds pass without a response from him.
"You can't be serious, Alicia. After all what he's done to you, you're telling me you still love him?" he eventually says after I watched him for some time.
"I'm serious, Owen. Seeing him again after months and spending time with him and the kids made it all the more clear to me that I made a mistake and that I still love him." I whisper as I lean back against the counter. Finally accepting this as the truth hurts but also feels like a weight has been lifted from my heart.
"Are you sure it's not just your need to have someone in your life aside from work. Grace will be off to college next year. Aren't you just afraid to be alone, sis?" he offers but I shake my head.
"No, part of me knew it since the day I signed the papers that ended our marriage. But I ignored my feelings, pushing them far away. He wanted the divorce, so I complied though I shouldn't have. I don't just want anyone, Owen. I want my husband back." I admit with a deep sigh.
"Ok, but what I don't get is, if he broke up with Jane and you slept together afterwards and you still have feelings for him, why aren't you in his arms right now, but sitting here alone?" he raises an eyebrow at me.
"I think he saw it as a mistake. That's what it looked like the next morning." I mumble, feeling close to tears.
"You think? But you're not sure?" he asks me and I nod.
"It didn't feel like this when we made love." I breathe, brushing the first tear from my cheek.
"I can't believe I'm saying this, Alicia. But you have to find out. If you really still love him, find out if he feels the same. I still don't understand it but I want you happy. You know that?" he walks over to me, sliding his arm around me. I nod as I return his hug, thinking that he's right. I need to find out.
"Are you coming?" I walk over to Alicia, who's still standing at the foot of the stairs, her glance at the back of Owen who's walking back into the banquet hall. Her gaze is absent once more.
"Babe?" I try again, reaching for her hand and her head snaps up when I touch her.
"I'm sorry. I was…"
"…lost in thoughts, right?" I finish her sentence and she offers me a small smile while nodding.
"Today just conjures up many memories." she squeezes my hand and I pull her towards me, sliding my arm around her waist. She rests her head against my chest and I place a kiss on her hair. Her arms glide around my waist and we just stand like this for a moment as I watch the last of our guests leave the foyer. I close my eyes, resting my chin on her head.
"I'm still not used to seeing the two of you this happy, but I have to admit that I like it." Eli appears next to us and I lift my head at his words, a small sigh escaping my lips. This has been the only time Alicia and I had to ourselves all day and I start yearning for the moment I can finally take her home.
"Thanks, Eli. We take it as a compliment." Alicia replies, winking at me and I chuckle.
"What can we do for you, Eli? Some more pictures or is there a film crew outside you forgot to tell us about?" I ask sternly, teasing my chief-of-staff. He raises an eyebrow at me and I can't help but smirk.
"No, Peter. I just wanted to tell you that I'm happy for you both. I'm glad you found your way back to each other. And I'm not saying this as your chief-of-staff", he looks at me, "or your secret campaign manager", he winks at Alicia, "but as both your friend."
"Thank you, Eli." Alicia steps towards him and places a kiss on his cheek.
"Yeah, well…" Eli casts his glance down, apparently touched by Alicia's gesture. I watch him amused as a memory sneaks into my mind.
"Are you ready?" Eli jerks me from my thoughts as he enters the room I wait in to be called for my speech at the opening of a new community center in Chicago.
"Yeah." I reply weary, checking the script in my coat pocket.
"Let's go." I sigh, walking towards the door.
"Peter?" Eli holds me back at my upper arm. I turn, raising an eyebrow at him.
"What's the matter with you?" he asks me and I see real concern in his eyes.
"I'm not sure I get what you mean." I tell him, trying to avoid answering his question.
I'm not in the mood to talk now. I haven't been for a while, at least about anything else than work. It's not like we talk about our private lives every day but over the years and especially since Eli became my chief-of-staff, we've gotten closer and I guess we both would call the other one a friend. And I know he noticed my lack of willingness to offer anything more about my break up with Jane than what he needed to do his job. He tried several times to get me to talk, but so far I managed to avoid any of his efforts. One time a few days ago I was about to give in, thinking it would do me good, getting it off my chest but I reconsidered in the last second. What should I tell him when I myself don't really know what happened? All I know is that I can't seem to forget the night with Alicia. The thought of sleeping with her was furthest from my mind when I asked her if I could sleep on her couch, thinking this part of our relationship was behind us. I was shocked when she leaned against me and my first impulse was to back away. But the moment she let go of my hand all warning signs went off and once my lips touched her skin I knew I wouldn't be able to stop. The only thing I was afraid of was what I would see in her eyes, remembering the look in them from before our divorce. So I avoided to meet her glance to save me from the disappointment if I should see indifference in them, because the second our lips met and she let her hand run through my hair, I knew what I had denied to Jane and myself was true. I still loved Alicia. I woke with her by my side, her head resting on my chest and I caught myself wishing I could spend every night next to her. But soon the fear of what she might say once she woke crept up and the thought that the last night meant nothing to her, snuck from the back of my mind into focus. Suddenly all I wanted to do was leave, run away from her and what she might say to me once she was awake. I wasn't fast enough and the way she acted before I left made me painfully realize that I was right; last night wasn't about us for her but just about the sex. I would've preferred to stay in the dark about that.
"You know exactly what I mean, Peter." Eli's words bring me back to the present. I don't answer, just sigh.
"Is it Jane? Maybe you should talk to her once more." he offers and part of me is glad that he can't read me well enough to know that deep down I'm glad Jane broke up with me.
"No, it's not Jane." I shake my head, sitting down on a chair.
"Then it has to be Alicia. Something happened with her. Am I right?" he says in a low voice and my head snaps up. His eyebrow raises and I know that he sees my reaction as admittance.
"I'm not asking for details, Peter. But I think you need to talk to her about whatever happened." he states, but I shake my head.
"I have nothing to tell her." I murmur, lowering my glance.
"Sure." he scoffs and I look up, shrugging my shoulders.
"Be that as it may, she seems to have to tell you something. She's in the audience." he motions to the hall I'm supposed to give my speech in a few minutes. I don't react but get up, heading for the door.
"Let's get this over with." I snort and open the door, not quiet believing my own words.
I somehow manage to get through my speech about the importance of this new community center, how many jobs it creates and the benefit the surrounding neighborhood will have. I try not to let my glance wander over the audience, firmly staring into the first two rows with the local politicians, but not searching for her on purpose. Briefly I think she might be here in her position as State's Attorney but I can't remember ever attending an event like this while I still held that office.
Way too soon my speech comes to an end and I want nothing more than sneak backstage and head home, but Eli seems to know this and steers me down the stage to mingle with the major and some other politicians. I know that my schedule for the rest of the day is empty, so I can't object. I smile politely as the press asks for pictures with various people, but catch myself looking around the room, not sure if I want to spot Alicia somewhere or if I should hope she already left.
Finally Eli decides it is appropriate for me to leave the event and we retreat to the room from earlier. I open the door, loosening my tie, glad to escape the crowd but stop dead as I see Alicia standing inside the room.
"Hi Peter." she greets me, a nervous smile on her lips.
"Hi." I reply, walking a few steps into the room.
"Eli let me back in here. I hope you don't mind." she admits, her eyes switching from me to the floor and I wonder even more what she wants from me.
"Why would I?" I state, sitting down on the couch, that dominates the small room, gesturing towards the chair opposite me.
"What brings you here?" I ask as casual as I can, though I'm not sure I want an answer.
"How are you?" she asks as she sits down, crossing her legs.
"Good. You?" I answer curtly.
"I've been better." Alicia says, her gaze at her hands that she kneads nervously on her lap.
"Putting that serial killer away for life should make you happy though. Your case was weak." I try steering the conversation into a direction that might make feel her at ease though I still wonder why she's here. I doubt she only wants to make small talk.
"I'm not talking about work." she whispers and I watch her but she stays silent and I get more and more confused about her intentions.
"What are you talking about then, Alicia? Is this just a courtesy call? Or is there something you want?" I slowly lose my patience and I'd love to get up and pace the room but there is just not enough space.
"I wanted…I needed to…" she trails off and I watch her concerned. I have no idea what would make her that nervous and I lean forward to place one of my hands on top of hers. Her head snaps up and our glances meet. I gasp as I see the insecurity in her eyes.
"What is it, Alicia?" I whisper, my voice much softer now. She holds my gaze but doesn't say a word.
"I…" she finally starts but trails off again. I sigh, my hand still on hers, my thumb drawing small circles on the back of her hand. She suddenly leans forward until our faces are only inches apart. I can feel her breath on my cheek and it dawns on me what this visit might be about. I back away and stand up.
"That's it? You want sex again, right?" I exclaim, stepping away from her but the room is too small to get enough distance between us as I would need. So I keep my back toward her, taking a deep breath.
"No, Peter." I hear her stand as well, walking up to me. She's not touching me but she stands so close I can feel her warmth on my back.
"Why would you think that?" she murmurs.
"Our past. Wouldn't be the first time you came to me for that." I hiss, still not looking at her.
"Peter?" she sighs and I feel her hand on my upper arm but I turn away, avoiding her touch.
"Can you please look at me?" she asks, a begging tone in her voice. I close my eyes briefly before I reluctantly turn.
"What?" I snarl at her, rage still burning inside of me.
"I'm sorry for letting you think that. You're right. I have done that in the past but it wasn't like that in Washington. If you hadn't started kissing me, I hadn't continued. But you did kiss me and I don't regret that night like you seem to do. It made me realize and admit a truth I have denied far too long." she keeps her glance on my chest and I sigh, not sure what to think about her words.
"I don't regret that night." I finally say after a while and she peers up at me, carefully placing a hand on my chest. This time I don't back away, the anger I felt minutes ago has disappeared.
"You don't?" she breathes, surprise lacing her words and I search her eyes but can't read them.
"No, just the way it ended. Your indifference as I left." I admit, running a hand through my hair. I'm still not sure what she's up to and why I just confessed this.
"My indifference?" she sighs, casting down her glance, shaking her head softly. "You were the one who didn't look at me, avoiding my glance."
"I did that to protect myself." I murmur, my eyes fixed on a point behind her.
"From what, Peter?" her hand still rests on my chest and I sense her looking up again, searching my face.
"From the disappointment to see no feeling in them at all, that sleeping with me meant nothing to you but satisfying your needs." I mumble, closing my eyes. I open them moments later as she's not responding. Her eyes linger on my chest and she seems deep in thought.
"And I couldn't let you see the love I still feel for you in mine." I add, not sure why I say it as it makes me feel exposed, revealing my feelings to her. I close my eyes again in a senseless attempt to make this whole scene disappear.
"I wish you would've looked into my eyes." she sighs and my eyes fly open as I feel her stroking my cheek softly. I peer down at her, not sure if I can trust what I see in her eyes and the trace of a smile on her lips.
"There is so much I regret, but not that night that made me realize I've been blind for such a long time, too blind to see that despite everything we've been through I still love you." she holds my gaze and this time I'm sure her eyes mirror her words though I'm having a hard time to process the meaning behind them.
"What about all the anger towards me, the hurt I caused you?" I ask, watching her eyes for a change but she doesn't even blink.
"I forgave you a long time ago, but I never showed it to you, trying to punish you but never realized I hurt myself just the same. I'm sorry for that and so much more. I hope you can forgive me for it and allow me to love you again." I see some sadness creep into her glance and I place my hand on top of hers that still rests on my chest. She gasps softly as I let my other hand run along her jaw line, lifting her chin up, leaning in to capture her lips softly with mine. I feel her stiffen at first, but only moments later she lets her arms run around my waist and starts kissing me back.
"Knowing you forgave me is all I need." I whisper as we break the kiss, pulling her close and feel her burying her face against my chest.
"I love you." she lifts her head, our eyes meet as her hands find mine, interlacing our fingers.
"I love you, too." I lean in, resting my forehead against hers. Our glances are still connected and I feel like that's the only words we need right now.
"Peter?" I look up and see Alicia standing at the doors to the hall, Eli just disappearing behind her.
"Now you were the one lost in thoughts." she teases me as I step up to her, reaching for her hand to guide her back to our guests.
"And now the last dance of the evening." The band announces as we step inside again and I peer over to Alicia. She nods slightly and I lead her on the dance floor. My arms slide around her as she places her head on my shoulder and we start moving to the soft music. I close my eyes as my mind goes back once more to the time after she came to see me at my speech. We both took it serious this time, not wanting to waste what was probably our last chance to find back to each other again. We spent a lot of time together and we talked about everything. It was painful at first to discuss the many issues that had piled up, but it finally made a fresh start possible. I moved back to Chicago into my old apartment that I had kept to not sever all ties to the city as I had decided to relocate to Springfield. But soon we realized we were spending the most time together at either place and so we decided to get rid of both and buy something new, to represent the next phase in our relationship. It felt good to finally have a home again that waited for me every night as nothing since I had been released from prison ever felt like home to me.
I peer down at her face, her features are relaxed and a small smile plays on her lips. I feel a smile tug at my lips as well as I can't keep another memory from appearing in my mind.
"How about a walk?" I ask Alicia as I watch her emptying her glass after we've finished dinner. She nods slowly, letting her gaze wander over the scenery from the terrace of the little hotel I've taken her to for an extended weekend in a small town near Orlando. The last weeks have been stressful with handling the move into our new place on top of our always demanding jobs.
"Sure." she nods, putting her glass down. I get up and walk around the table, taking her hand to lead her down the small path from the terrace to the beach. I'm a little nervous about what I'm planning and my other hand checks he pocket of my pants more than once to make sure I haven't forgotten the small, velvet box. We walk in silence, stopping from time to time to watch the slowly setting sun over the ocean.
We arrive at a few rocks, we already sat on last night watching the sunset, and I steer her towards them. We sit down on top the biggest one and she settles between my legs, resting her back against my chest and I slide my arms around her waist. We don't say much but it's not an awkward silence like we shared so often in the past, but a comfortable one. We have found back to that honesty that once formed the foundation of our relationship, that ability to sense how the other one is feeling. Though I hope that Alicia has no idea now about my plan, that she's not feeling my racing heart. I know my nervousness and concern is groundless as I have no reason to believe she'll say no, but a little doubt stays with me.
"Babe?" I whisper in her ear as the last rays of sunlight dance over the soft waves.
"Hmmm?" she mutters and I smile at her half-asleep sound, placing a kiss on her hair. She turns her head, her eyes partly closed and I know she was drifting off to sleep.
"Should we go back?" I ask her, mentally pushing my plan back to the next day.
"No, I'm not sleeping." she exclaims, scooting down the rock, turning to look at me.
"Ok." I chuckle, also climbing down to stand next to her. "So, should we go a bit further?"
"Sure, how about up to those palm trees?" she points to a place a few hundred feet away and I nod, changing my plan once again as an idea leaps into my mind.
"Could you hold this while I tie my shoe?" I offer her the small box, which she absent-mindedly takes as I kneel in front of her.
"What is this, Peter?" she asks after a few moments and I peer up, seeing her eyeing the box curiously.
"Open it." I tell her after I've straightened my upper body but remain in my kneeling position. Her eyes switch from me to the box in her hand and I see her swallow hard.
"This isn't…, you didn't…" she stammers and I see a tear roll down her cheek as I take the box from her and open it to reveal a square-cut diamond in a platinum setting.
"Alicia, you're the love of my life and I want to spend the rest of it with you. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife again?" she's already nodding as I say the last words of my question.
"Yes." she laughs once I finish, a big smile on her face while more tears stream down her cheeks. She flings her arms around my neck and I pull her close.
"I love you." I whisper and she leans back, our eyes lock before she captures my lips with hers. I let go of her once we break the kiss and take the ring from the box. I reach for her hand to slip it on her finger, lifting her hand to my lips afterward, placing a kiss on her palm. She interlaces our fingers while her other hand runs over my neck and through my hair as she draws me closer so our lips meet again. She starts nibbling on my lower lip and the kiss deepens as I put my arms around her, letting me fall back so she lands on my chest. We laugh briefly before my lips find hers again and I get the feeling we won't return to our room soon.
"What are you smiling about?" I ask Peter as I lift my head when the music stops.
"You." he whispers, his lips brushing my temple. "That night I proposed to you on the beach." he adds as we leave the dance floor and I smile knowingly.
"We should go back there one day." I tell him as the first guests approach us to say their goodbye's.
"Yes. You still haven't told me where you want to go for our honeymoon." he whispers in my ear before the guests step up to us. I just wink at him.
An hour later we are finally in our suite. I kick my heels from my feet the moment the door closes.
"I forgot to carry you over the threshold." Peter sighs behind me and I turn, placing my hands on his chest.
"You have another chance tomorrow when we get home." I tell him, brushing my lips against the corner of his mouth. I walk over to the dressing table and sit down. I remove my jewelry before I start loosening the pins from my up do-hairstyle. I sigh as the last strand falls on my shoulders and I let my fingers run through it. As I look up I see Peter is watching me in the mirror. He steps up behind me and we smile at each other through the reflection.
Start of mature part
"You're so beautiful." he whispers as he brushes my hair from my neck and leans down to kiss me behind my ear. I sigh at the contact and reach for his hand that rests on my other shoulder. He straightens up again and I stand, still keeping his hand in mine. He pulls me close and captures my lips in a heated kiss. I brush his jacket from his shoulders and he lets it fall to the floor so his hands are back on my body instantly. He finds the zipper of my dress and opens it slowly so it slides down. I step out of it, his eyes roaming my body. His dark orbs linger on my breasts before they wander lower and though he's not touching me a hot trail runs over my skin and I feel a light tug in my lower stomach. I step up to him again, my hands finding his shirt buttons and I free him of the fabric in no time. My fingertips brush over his chest until they reach his belt. I run my index finger along his waistband which earns me a light groan. He reaches for my hands and holds them behind my back with one of his hands while the other one runs along my jaw line and further down my neck, stopping at my breasts to kiss one through the fabric of my strapless bra making me whimper. He lets go of my hands which find their way back to his belt, finally opening it. His other hand replaces his mouth on my breast. His lips wander upwards again until they brush against mine, his tongue slowly teasing my lower lip. I open his pants and they join my dress on the floor. We continue our slow kiss as he softly pushes me back towards the bed. I sit down as my calves hit the mattress and we break the kiss as I scoot back on the bed. I reach for his hand, pulling him towards me. He lies down next to me, kissing a trail down my neck and over my chest as his fingers find the front clasp of my bra. He starts swirling is tongue over one peek while his thumb brushes over the other. I moan deeply as he nibbles on the soft flesh and a warmth runs through me, pooling between my legs. I pull his face up to mine, cupping his cheeks in my palms, tracing his lips with one of my thumbs. Our eyes lock and the love I see in Peter's makes my heart skip a beat. He places a kiss on my forehead, his lips tracing my eyebrows and my cheekbone before they find my mouth and he kisses me slowly. His hand slides down over my stomach, tracing the outline of my panties before he brushes his fingertips over the white lace. I whimper as he glides further down and I push myself against his palm. He smiles into the kiss before he breaks it.
"Patience, Babe." he whispers before he starts a new trail down my breasts. He pays equal attention to both, gently biting and sucking on my sensitive peaks. I shudder as his hands run down my sides and further down. His lips continue their way over my stomach, placing feather light kisses on my skin through my panties. Finally I feel him pull them down slowly. He sits up between my legs and starts kissing my knee and further up my inner thigh while his hand strokes up the other leg. I gasp and my hands grab the sheets as his lips finally reach my center, his tongue slowly circling my clit. He leisurely slides two fingers inside of me, stroking my g-spot while his tongue continues its sweet torture. I'm close to falling over the edge when he pulls his fingers and tongue back. My eyes fly open, groaning deeply. I look at him but he just smiles at me before he starts kissing my stomach again. He travels further upwards, pressing me down into the mattress. I feel his erection at my thigh and reach down to free him of his briefs while he captures my lips once more in a deep kiss. I whimper as he lets his hardness run through my wetness and we both moan deeply as he enters me slowly. We break the kiss and our glances meet while I let both my hands run through his hair. I wrap my legs around him and he slowly starts moving. He shifts, reaching for my hand as he stills his movements. He brushes against my lips before he gently kisses each of my fingertips. I use my other hand to draw him in, kissing his cheeks down to his jaw line while he interlaces our fingers over my head. He slowly slides out of me and I whimper at the loss. He captures my lips as he enters me again, settling into a steady rhythm. My hands run over his back as I meet his thrusts. Our foreheads touch and our eyes lock until we find our release together.
End of mature part
He stays on top of me as we gradually calm down. He buries his head at my neck and my fingers run through his hair and over his shoulders, enjoying the closeness. Eventually he shifts, reaching for the sheets to cover us. He lays back down next to me and pulls me closer so my head rests on his chest. He wraps his arms around me and the last thought before sleep captures me is that I can't wait to wake up the next morning to start our new life.