Yvonne had spoken from the door way, her voice trembling with hurt and anger.
Both men turned toward her as she said, “You don’t get to choose.”
Mike frowned slightly.
“You want to lecture Terry about my heart?” her voice climbed half an octave. “Do you even know how much the woman you’re living with loves you or that you’re halfway in love with her too?”
Michael opened his mouth but no words came out.
“Probably not,” she answered herself. “But you don’t get to make the choice of who I let in my life.”
“Eve-” he started.
“It was my heart that shattered that year. It was my heart that went down on that plane and crashed into burning flames,” she half sobbed, half shouted.
Terrence got up but didn’t move toward her yet. As much as it hurt to see her like this, he knew she had to get it out.
“I know how lonely and hurt and scared and angry and- and broken I was.” She laughed without humour. “I’m sure half the office saw me in different states of pain back then. But I’m not going to stay there forever. I’ve been walking away from that time and I’m finally feeling like a woman again- I’m not about to stand here and let you take it all away from me!”
She was so upset her green eyes blazed and glittered with unshed tears. “You don’t-” she took a hurt breath. “You kept me safe and loved and protected when I was hurting, Mike, but I don’t need you to protect my heart anymore!” Finally a single tear fell. “You don’t get to choose for me. He has been there, patiently watching me heal. I feel like that means a lot and I’m not going to be broken anymore. I chose him.”
With that last soft, statement, Yvonne had turned away and retreated to her office.
Terrence and Michael looked at each other for a moment and then the former followed Yvonne.
She had been sitting on the sofa in the corner of her office. When she heard Terry’s voice, she stood up and ran into his arms, crying softly.
“Shh, it’s going to be okay,” he murmured close to her.
He held her and rubbed her back, letting her cry until she was ready to speak.
When she stopped crying, she had pulled back slightly, eyes downcast.
“Don’t look at my face I probably look horrible.”
Terry chuckled. “No, you’re still quite average.”
Her head shot up and she gave a surprised laughed. “Ouch, that actually hurt.”
“You know I’m just kidding. You’re beautiful Eve. You’re always beautiful to me.”
Her eyes shone as she said, “Thanks.” Pause. “Do you think my heart hasn’t healed, too?”
His hands reached up and cupped her face. “That was crazy talk. I’ve watched you grow back, Yvonne. I saw how hard it was for you and I’ve had to work on hiding my feelings for a very long time. It killed me, but you’ve come so far from that.”
“Yes, baby, you have. There was a time you wouldn’t even let yourself laugh at my jokes but you’re not like that anymore. You’ve definitely healed more than a bit.”
Yvonne took a deep breath. “You’re right. A year ago I would never run into your arms to cry my eyes out.”
He gave her a gentle smile. “You would’ve run to Michael’s.”
Her face clouded over at the mention of his name. “I’m sorry for what he said to you.”
“It’s okay.” He kissed her forehead tenderly. “Let’s go talk to him.”
“Okay. I guess that is a good idea.”
Taking his hand, Yvonne had walked into Terrence’s office to find it empty.
Her anger had come back quickly. “He ran away?”
Terrence frowned too. “Maybe he needed time to think, gather his thoughts.”
Yvonne took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “Yeah. Maybe. I guess we’ll see him tomorrow.” She had glanced at the papers on the desk. “Were you guys finished?”
“Almost, we’ll deal with it in the morning.”
The following morning, however, Michael had sent them an email saying he’d be working from the labs on third floor for the remainder of the week. They would correspond on email.
With a sigh, Terrence had acknowledged the email and carried on with his work. Later in the day he’d asked Yvonne if she’d heard from her best friend. She told him she hadn’t and that Mike was probably too ashamed to apologise. They agreed to give him more time.
So hearing, now, that he would be at the family lunch, neither of them knew what to expect. He still hadn’t started speaking to either of them.
When he arrived, he was welcomed by the rest of the family warmly and then he turned to Yvonne and smiled.
“Can I talk to you guys for a second?”
Both Terry and Yvonne stood up, the latter handing her child over to his aunt.
Once they were alone, Michael spoke directly to Yvonne first.
“You know I can be an idiot sometimes. I’m sorry. I only want you to be happy.”
That made her smile and she gave him a big hug. When she let him go, she watched Mike turn to Terrence.
“You are the bigger man in so many ways.”
“No, let me say this. Please.”
Terrence shut his mouth and nodded.
Michael continued. “I took a lot of time to think about what I had thrown in your face and I realised that you have been consistently conscious of what Yvonne has been through. You’re the one who told me not to give up on her and to give her a reason to live after Kendo died. You wouldn’t let her stay away from the social scene even though she was scared to go out. You have pushed her professionally to overcome the grief she went through…” he shrugged. “You have pretty much been the guy she needed.”
Terrence looked down then back up into his friend’s eyes. Michael went on, “What I said was out of line. You’re a great guy. A part of me must have felt like I was about to get side lined again, but I don’t wish you any ill will. Just keep her happy.”
“I’ll do my best, bro.”
Michael stuck out his hand and Terrence shook it before pulling him into a hug. “Thanks Mikey.”
The three of them joined the rest of the Baker family just as Avril was announcing that the food was ready to be served.
Later in the day when Michael heard Kendo call Terry ‘daddy’ he said, “Eve, you’re in trouble. I think your child has already chosen. Hate him or love him, Kendo knows who he wants.”
Yvonne and Terrence both looked up, surprised, but the former’s expression turned to one of happy gratitude. Terry just looked relieved.
Yvonne then took her son from Terry’s arms and handed him to Mike, planting a kiss on his cheek with a quiet, “Thanks, buddy.”