I wheel myself out of the kitchen and see Sean standing at the door. His pleading eyes bore into me, “Can we talk?”
I want to scream no. No, we can’t talk, but all of the memories we’ve made together flash into my mind. How do I say no when for so long he was my rock—my shelter? I nod and turn the chair around wheeling back to the dining room table. Lexie’s presents are wrapped pretty with glimmering bows and placed in the middle of the table.
“Are those for our daughter?” His words bring a chill to my core. Yes, our daughter … the one we created together. “Yes.”
“Can you believe she’s graduating already? I mean holy cow … how did the time fly by so fast?”
“I don’t know,” I reply, just thinking that exact same thing. “What do you want Sean?”
He pulls out a chair diagonally from me and takes a seat. He looks so mustered. “Nikki, I just … crap, I … I, don’t know what to say. This whole thing,” he moves his arms around wildly trying to indicate this thing between him and me. “I screwed up.”
Sean reaches over the table corner and places his hands over mine. I hate that they feel comforting … well maybe more familiar than comforting. Still, I should hate his hands on me. He’s been using them to fondle another woman.
“Nik, I miss you.” Softly he makes small circles on the top of my hand. The feeling almost makes me feel nauseous.
“Who the fuck do you want me to be, Sean? Your wife, the mother of your kids, your lover or perhaps just the other woman?”
“Baby, no. I want you—just you. I was weak, but I miss us. I miss everything we have shared, every kiss, every hug—us.”
“Is she still living in my house?”
“And does she know you’re here pouring your feelings out to me?”
“Sean you can’t be honest with anyone, not even yourself.” I take a good long look at the man I loved for so long. He’s a stranger now. I don’t even recognize him, or maybe for once I’m not blind.
“I’m not lying to you now. This is the truth—I love you. I miss you, and I want my wife home.”
I’m pretty sure tiny brain gremlins are playing tug-a-war with my last emotion cord. I can picture them; green and fuzzy … tug—tug. That kiss from Ethan which left me weightless, and now my husband confessing that he wants me back. If those gremlins don’t stop pulling, I’m afraid that string is going to break. “Sean, I can’t do this.” I try to wheel back as fast as my arm will push, but he stands and stops my chair.
“I’m not going to give up! You’re my wife. You belong to me.”
I have forgotten how demanding and controlling he can be. When we lived together, I got used to it. I just made sure I knew what he liked and didn’t like. I made a habit of making sure he had everything he did like. It was easier than an argument. Even if it wasn’t my favorite, I always gave in.
“Sean, you’re wrong. I’m not yours anymore. You replaced me. Now go back to your little bimbo.”
I am proud of myself for standing up to him and not giving in. The space we have had away from each other has given me the strength to put my foot down. He doesn’t get to control me any longer. I smile to myself while I head to my room. The smile quickly fades though as it hits me that the man I love was asking for me to come home—the place I would love to run to. Tears soak my pillow. I hate that I am still crying over him. I wish that I had Ethan’s number. I would call him. I need the comfort of his voice. That makes me cry harder. I still don’t know if I can allow myself to date him.
A light knock comes from my door. “Nikki, are you ok honey?”
I don’t look up, but I feel the bed shift when my sister sits next to me. “No. Why did he have to come here?”
“If it’s any consolation I am really proud of you for standing up to him. Joe and I have always thought he was bad news. That jerk has pushed you around long enough. It’s time for you to do what Nikki needs to do, and Joe and I are right behind you honey.”
I hug onto my sister, sobbing all over her shoulder. I’m sure I look pathetic, but I let it all come out … letting my emotions run rampant.
Sleep doesn’t come until the early morning hours. I feel zapped when my alarm goes off at seven. The idea of calling to say I won’t be there for therapy sounds ideal, but I’ve been thinking about Ethan nonstop. I really want to see him. He’s not only therapy for my physical needs, but he also seems to be helping me heal within. I hate to admit it, but I need him.
Exhausted, I push myself out of bed. I want to try to look good for my much younger man, and today it might take longer to hide the bags under my eyes.
. It’s Ethan waiting for me today, and I can tell by the way he is looking at me he’s worried. “Are you okay?”
“I’m just really tired. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
“You could have called and canceled.”
I shake my head no, “I wanted to see you.” In the back of my mind I know I should have just stayed in bed and rested until I had to see Jim Schapp today. The need to see Ethan won out. His smile confirms it for me.
“Get dressed we’re getting out of here.”
“I umm, have to meet the lawyer after this.”
He looks at me speculatively and then nods, “no problem I can drop you off. I just don’t want to make you work, when you look so exhausted. We’ll get some coffee.” The idea of coffee definitely sounds better than a workout. “I’d help you get dressed, but they might frown on me in the women’s bathroom.” Ethan jokes.
“Once my swimsuit was off, I’m not sure I would want to get anything back on if you were helping me.” I wink and watch as Ethan swallows hard, his Adams apple bobbing. Impressed, I still have the ability to flirt and pleased that I can have an effect on him too.