"Hey, family!" my husband yelled when he walked through the door after being out of town for the last two weeks. "Miss me?"
"Daddy!" the boys screamed as they ran through the house and nearly knocked him over.
I smiled as I watched them and remembered that there was a time when I didn’t want to be married and couldn’t even imagine having children. But there we were, the happiest of families, and as I watched him pick up the boys and spin them around I thought back on how it all started.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"I love you, Christina, but I just can’t do this anymore. I want to get married and have kids and buy a house in the country and you want the city life with some sort of chic partnership and parties every night of the week. And frankly, I’m exhausted."
"How long have you felt this way?"
"A long time," he sighed. "And I know I should have talked to you about it sooner but I kept thinking maybe we’d find a middle place to meet in but it’s not happening and I just think it’s best if we end this now before we get any deeper in."
"I can’t believe this," I breathed as the tears started to fall from my eyes. "I thought you loved our life and haven’t you made a lot of contacts from the parties you’ve been to?"
"I’m not saying it’s been all bad," he smiled. "We have had a lot of fun and yes, I’ve met some amazing people that have really helped me build the business. And I’ll always love you for that. And let’s be honest," he continued. "Haven’t you been falling for Michael for some time now?"
"What?! No. Are you crazy?"
"I’ve seen it in your eyes and I know he cares a lot about you."
"I don’t know what you think you’ve seen but Michael and I are just friends. That’s all we’ve ever been. You don’t think I’m having an affair with him, do you?"
"No, not at all. I just think you need to see what I see. I know you’re not cheating on me and I’m not cheating on you. I just…well…"
"I’m sorry, Thomas. I never meant to hurt you."
"I know, I know," he said and pulled me into his arms. "And maybe with a little space this will all look different but right now, I think this is the right thing."
He kissed me goodbye a few minutes later then took his small suitcase and walked out of the apartment we’d shared for nearly two years. I wandered into the kitchen and pulled out a tub of ice cream, grabbed a spoon and sat down on the floor and started to eat. My tears mixed in made the sweet taste salty but I didn’t care. I ignored the phone and whoever knocked on my door and actually fell asleep on the kitchen floor with the spoon in my hand.
I woke up the next morning and pushed myself up and took a few minutes to clean up the melted ice cream before taking myself to the shower. I didn’t feel any better after letting the hot water run over me for nearly 20 minutes and slipped on my favorite pair of pajamas and crawled into bed. I ignored more phone calls and another knock on my door then heard the lock on the door open and hoped it was Thomas returning.
"If you’re dead in here I’m not going to be happy about it."
Michael. I’d given him keys so he could check on my place whenever I was out of town and at that moment I greatly regretted it.
"Go away," I said from underneath the covers.
"Not until I know you’re okay," he said as he sat down on the bed and put his hand on my arm.
"Then you’ll be here ‘til we’re both dead. Why are you here anyway?"
"Thomas called me and after nearly 12 hours of unanswered phone calls I decided to make sure you were okay. Are you?"
"What do you think?" I asked as I flipped the covers down and looked into his eyes. I couldn’t help but think about what Thomas had said before he left and when Michael reached for my hand and gave it a squeeze I thought he might be right.
"What is it?"
"Can I ask you something?"
"Of course, anything."
"Thomas said something to me last night, and it was about you."
"Me? What could he have said about me?"
"That you’re in love with me and maybe I’m falling for you too."
"Wow," he said and pulled his hand from mine and ran it through his hair as his cheeks started to turn red. "He said that?" I raised my eyebrows and nodded. "Well, that’s just ridiculous," he laughed and got up from the bed and was as nervous as I’d ever seen him.
"Michael? He’s right, isn’t he?"
"No," he shrugged and started to pace.
"Michael. I’ve known you for too long and I can tell when you’re lying."
He turned and looked at me as he leaned back against the wall just near the door. “Fine, yes, okay? But it doesn’t matter. We’re friends before anything else and I would never get between you and Thomas.”
"Well that ship has clearly sailed, but right now, your friendship is what I want and need. But I understand if it’s too awkward or hard."
"Like I said," he smiled and walked back toward the bed and sat down, though not as close as he’d been sitting before. "We’re friends before anything else."
"Good," I smiled then leaned forward and took his hand. "Because I couldn’t stand it if anything ruined that."
"Me either." He squeezed my hand and it wasn’t long before we were watching a movie and laughing like nothing had ever happened. I fell into tears here and there and he was there for me through all of it. I tried to figure out if I had feelings more than friendship for him but I was so focused on how much I loved Thomas and how broken my heart was that I couldn’t really figure much of anything out.
Thomas moved the rest of his things out over the next couple of weeks and Michael was kind enough to meet him so I could continue working through the breakup without seeing him.
The apartment felt very empty for a while but slowly I filled up the spaces Thomas left with my own things. I moved a picture frame to the left or right, spread my clothes out between the two closets and got rid of the food only he would have eaten.
After a couple of months I realized I was staying in more, only hitting a party every couple of weeks, and I didn’t really miss it. I was also pretty sure that I didn’t love Michael as anything other than a friend and we were able to get back to our friendship the way it had been before everything happened. I still had a lot of moments where I missed Thomas so much it hurt but I refrained from calling and begging him to come back.
He’d let me know where he was living so I could forward mail that slipped through the post office’s forwarding mechanism and while I was tempted on more than one occasion to drive out of the city to find him I never actually did it. He wanted space and I knew I needed to give it to him.
I guess about four months had passed when a wedding announcement from one of Thomas’ cousins arrived and I realized that not everyone in our lives knew we had split up. It was addressed to the both of us and I opened it without even thinking. I’d met Sheila and her boyfriend a year earlier, just after they got engaged, and I remember liking them quite a bit. I couldn’t believe he hadn’t told them about us and decided to reach out and see how he was.
"Hey," he answered since he clearly knew it was me calling.
"Hey. How are you?"
"I’m okay. You?"
"Okay. Good I guess."
It was the most horrible small talk in the history of small talk.
"So what’s up?" he asked and I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed that I called or just busy or what.
"I got Sheila’s wedding announcement today and it was addressed to both of us as if she didn’t realize we were no longer an us."
"Oh, right, um…"
"Thomas? You did tell your family about us, didn’t you?"
It was obvious that he had not told them and I honestly couldn’t believe it. The breakup was his idea; it’s what he wanted and yet he hadn’t told people?
"Please tell me you’re kidding. How could your family not know?"
It would have actually been very easy to keep from them since they lived elsewhere and never called much. They weren’t extremely close. In fact, I’d only met Sheila and her boyfriend because they’d come to New York to celebrate her birthday and that’s where they got engaged.
"Okay don’t freak out," he said. "But I haven’t told anyone because I didn’t want to hear how I’d failed at another relationship, how my mom would never get a grandchild and on and on and on. I know it’s ridiculous but I guess I was hoping to, I don’t know, meet someone else before telling them."
That last bit stung a little.
"Well I think you’re going to have to tell them now. I’ll put the announcement in the mail to you."
"Or we could just go together."
It was tempting, very tempting, especially since deep down I was still holding on to a tiny ray of hope that we would figure it all out and get back together but most of me knew that would never happen because we weren’t really right for each other.
"And do what? Pretend you didn’t move out and tell me you couldn’t do this anymore?"
"Yeah. I guess that’s too much to ask."
"You need to tell your family, Thomas."
"Yeah, I know," he sighed.
"Is there something else going on?" I asked.
"The thing is," he started. "I miss you, Christina. I miss our life together. I even miss the parties. And I know leaving and breaking things off was my decision, and I still think it was the right one, but I just feel lost out here."
"I miss us too," I sighed. "And I haven’t even been going to all the parties. They weren’t fun without you."
From there we fell into a long conversation about how we’d been spending our time, what we were liking about our newfound singleness and what we were missing about each other. We talked for almost two hours and almost talked ourselves into getting back together but felt like maybe we needed to explore some other relationships to really see if we were meant to be or not.
"So you’ll let your family know?" I asked when it seemed like we were wrapping up our conversation.
"I promise. And you’ll see if there’s really something there with Michael?"
"Apparently, though I’m very hesitant."
"I know. But I think you owe it to yourself…to see if he’s the one you should be having these long conversations with."
"The real problem is, Thomas, that I still love you."
"I love you too, Christina."
"So what are we doing then?"
"I guess we’re taking time to figure out if what we had was the best there is for us, if we’re really the last people we’re supposed to be with. I don’t know. I just know that I want a family and I still don’t think that’s something you dream about."
We talked for a bit longer and went back and forth again about whether or not we should just get back together and move on but in the end he was right. I didn’t want kids and wasn’t really that interested in getting married and until we were on the same page about that there really wasn’t much more to say.
After I hung up I felt like I needed to do something to get my mind off things. I knew about a release show for a musician friend’s new album so I called Michael and two hours later we were in a small club rocking out to the music.
"I’m so glad you came!" my musician friend, Lance Masters, yelled as he wrapped his arms around me after his final set. "I haven’t see you in ages!"
"You sounded great, Lance! The new music is amazing!"
I’d lost Michael somewhere in the crowd once I’d started talking to Lance but I knew he’d be fine and followed Lance backstage so we could actually hear ourselves think.
I’d known Lance since college and had been following his career from the beginning. He was dating my roommate when I first heard him play and even though they broke up shortly after he and I actually became friends and stayed in touch here and there over the years. When he moved to New York to get serious about the music we saw each other a lot more and I always enjoyed hanging out with him. He and Thomas always seemed to get along and I knew Thomas loved the music even if he didn’t always love going to listen to it with me.
Lance was much bigger than the small club he was playing in that night but he always did his record release shows there, to thank the people who’d been supporting him for years, and I’d been on the guest list from the beginning. It was sort of fun to say, “I’m on the list,” when I bypassed the line but I never tried to flaunt the fact that we were friends to anyone.
"So where have you been?" he asked as we sat down on the beat up couch in the green room. "And where’s Thomas?"
I guess I hadn’t told everyone about us either. “Oh, right, we, um…well we’re not together right now.”
"Right now? What does that mean?"
"We just want different things and I guess officially we’re not a couple anymore."
"Wow. I thought you guys were the perfect couple, the ones that would actually make it. I’m sorry, Christina."
"Thanks. It’s been…well, there were some hard moments but mostly it’s just been interesting. I haven’t been going out as much, and I’ve actually liked being at home."
"That actually sounds nice," he sighed. "Don’t get me wrong, I love performing and I love seeing friends perform but I so rarely get a night at home. I’ve almost forgotten what that even looks like. I guess I should feel special that you came out to see the show tonight."
"Clearly," I grinned.
"Man I’ve missed you," he smiled then pulled me into his arms. I rested my head on his chest and felt as comfortable as I had in a long time. "And I’m sure sorry about you and Thomas."
"Are you busy tomorrow?"
"I don’t think so, why?"
"Let’s do something. Go to Coney Island or something crazy like that."
"Coney Island?" I smiled as I leaned up and looked in his eyes. "Seriously?"
"Come on, it’ll be fun."
"Why not," I smiled then nestled myself back into his chest.
Michael sent me a text that he’d met someone and was heading to another club and I felt a little irritated that he was just leaving me even though I was perfectly content in the green room with Lance.
"Lance, you need to get out here and mingle with fans," his manager, also his sister, said as she burst into the green room. "Oh, sorry," she said when she realized I was also there. "Christina? Oh my god! It’s been so long!"
"Hey, Liz," I smiled as I pushed myself up then stood and hugged her.
"You look great," she said as she eyed my outfit. "I haven’t seen you in so long! How’s that boyfriend of yours?"
"We’re uh, we’re not…"
"It’s okay. How are you?"
"Busy, of course, but I’m going to take some time off soon," she smiled then patted her belly.
"Really? A baby?" She nodded and I threw my arms around her in a very sincere hug. "Congratulations!"
She and her husband had been married for nearly ten years and I was always surprised they hadn’t had kids but figured they were just waiting for the right time.
"Let’s get lunch soon," she said. "I miss seeing you around."
"That sounds great," I smiled. "Now I’m going to get out of your hair so Lance can do his Lance thing." I winked at him as I reached for the door.
"But we’re still on for tomorrow, right?" he asked.
"Absolutely," I said. "I’ll be ready at 9."
I said hi to a few other people as I made my way back through the club and by the time I got home it was nearing 2am and I felt alive and invigorated. I had no problem getting up the next morning and actually felt a little giddy to do hang out with Lance all day. I’d forgotten how much I loved talking to him and realized I hadn’t been able to hang out with him very often when Thomas and I were together.
When he’d first moved to New York I was single and we hung out quite a bit when he wasn’t tied to a girlfriend. Coney Island was one of our favorite places to go on the weekends and the last time I’d been was with him three or four years earlier.
He got to my place right on time and I looped my arm through his as we walked to the subway. “I’m so glad we’re doing this,” I smiled as we got settled onto a train. “It’s been a long time.”
"I don’t think I’ve been since the last time I was there with you. No one else seems to understand the coolness of it all."
"Same. Thomas never wanted to go, said it brought back bad childhood memories or something. But I’m kinda glad I’ve never gone with anyone else. I sort of like that it’s our thing."
"I sort of like that too," he smiled and put his arm around my shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
"Lance Masters?" a young girl asked and until that moment I’d forgotten that people actually knew who he was. "Could I maybe get a picture?"
"Sure," he smiled and pulled away and I took the girl’s phone and snapped a cute picture of them. A few others in the car asked politely about photos and it was fun watching him interact with fans.
"I sometimes forget that you’re actually famous now," I said when they’d all giggled and gone back to their seats. "Maybe I should get a picture with you too," I teased and pulled out my phone to take a selfie of us.
"Uh, no," he said and put his hand on it before I could snap the photo. "We’re doing it the old-fashioned way in the photo booth."
"The photo booth!" I exclaimed then shrunk back in my seat when I realized just how loud I’d said it. "I totally forgot about that."
Every time we’d gone to Coney Island in the past we’d slip into the photo booth and take silly pictures then split them up between us. I was sure all of mine were in a box somewhere and made a mental note to dig them out when I got home.
It was just about 10 when we finally reached the Coney Island stop and I could almost smell the hot dogs when the train doors opened. He took my hand as we walked toward the beach and it was the first time I’d ever thought about him as anything more than a friend. There weren’t any tingles or any sort of fireworks that went off in my brain; I didn’t lose my balance or go weak in the knees…it just felt like home.
We rode the roller coast first, like we always did, then took a spin on the carousel before digging into some hot dogs and fries. The weather was sunny with a slight breeze and it wasn’t all that crowded and I really couldn’t have imagined a more perfect day.
"I’m so glad we did this," I smiled and reached across the picnic table and put my hand on his.
"Me too," he echoed and took my hand in his and gave it a little squeeze. "I’ve really missed you, Christina."
"I’ve missed you too."
We finished eating then found the photo booth and giggled like teenagers as we squeezed inside. We made silly faces in the first photo, then smiled and laughed in the second, but on the third it turned serious when he put his hand under my chin and pulled my face toward his. “I’m really falling for you,” he whispered then leaned in and kissed me as the final flash popped.
That’s when I felt the chills and the sparks, that’s when the fireworks exploded in my head, that’s when I wasn’t sure I could move because my knees and ankles and every part of my body felt weak from his touch. I couldn’t even speak because I was in complete shock but I snapped back to reality enough to get up and step outside. The pictures slid out just as I did and I picked them up and ran my fingers over them as I thought about just how perfect we looked together.
"Please say something," he whispered as he stepped out and put his hand on my shoulder.
"I think these are the best pictures we’ve ever taken," I smiled and looked up into his eyes. "I’m especially fond of this last one."
He smiled and took my hand and I slipped the photos into the side pocket of my bag. We didn’t say anything more as we walked toward the Ferris wheel, pardon me, the wonder wheel, and after we were safely secured in our car he put his arm around me and I leaned in and closed my eyes.
"I’m really falling for you too," I whispered and he bent down and kissed the top of my head.
Once everyone was loaded and the ride was moving I sat back up and looked straight into his eyes. “How did this happen?”
"I honestly have no idea," he smiled. "But I’m really glad it did."
We talked a lot as the wheel spun around and realized we both had some feelings deep down that we’d never admitted to anyone, hardly even to ourselves, and that maybe our timing had just never been right before that moment. We agreed that we wanted to see what was really happening between us, if it was just a momentary thing or something very real.
Holding his hand as we walked back to the subway hours later felt different than it had in the morning. It was still good and still felt like home but it also felt like love and neither of us could stop smiling. I fell asleep against his shoulder on the way home and woke to his kiss on my forehead. “This is our stop,” he whispered and I nodded and stood and walked quickly to the door.
He walked me back to my building but declined my offer to come up and order dinner. “I want to do this right, Christina. I want to take you on dates and romance you and all of that. And I know you and Thomas were living together but you need to know right up front that I’m not that guy. I don’t sleep with the women I date and I’m not planning on changing that.”
"I know," I smiled. I’d known that he was very old-fashioned all along, which is likely the reason he never dated anyone for a very long time. I knew it was why Kelly had broken up with him in college and he and I had talked about it on more than one occasion. It was one of the things I always admired about him, especially in his line of work. I could only imagine how hard it was to resist the temptation sometimes. "And I’d never ask you to change who you are. I hope you know that."
"Are you free tomorrow night?" he asked. "Because I’d like to take you on a real date."
"As opposed to what today was?" I teased.
"You know what I mean…the kind of date where I pick you up and bring you flowers and take you to a ridiculously over-priced dinner…"
"I don’t need any of that, but I’d love to go to dinner at a place we both love then take a walk and hold your hand and kiss you goodnight."
"You’re pretty amazing, you know that?" he smiled as he brushed some hair away from my face.
"Christina?" I froze when I heard Thomas’ voice. "And Lance?" I turned slowly and saw him walking toward us. "Well, I certainly didn’t expect this." He seemed angry and hurt and that just made me irritated since the breakup was his decision.
"Thomas, hi," I said. "What are you doing here?"
"Well nothing now apparently. I came by to talk more after our talk yesterday but I can see that it doesn’t really matter." The anger he had when he first walked up was replaced by disappointment and sadness and I felt awful. "I just assumed it would be Michael," he sighed.
"Maybe I should go," Lance said and I felt horrible for how our amazing day was ending.
"I’m sorry," I said as I turned back to him. "I’ll call you later, okay?" He nodded and I reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze. "This really was the best day." He smiled and while I knew he was disappointed I knew he understood that I had to deal with Thomas.
"The rock star? Really, Christina?" he asked after Thomas was in a cab.
"It surprised me too," I said, not taking his snarky bait.
"What happened to Michael?"
"Why are you really here, Thomas?" I felt exhausted even after just a few words were exchanged between us.
"Can we go inside?"
"I don’t think so. As you recall you’re the one that wanted this. You’re the one that said we should explore other relationships. Well, I’m exploring and frankly, I’m feeling things with Lance that I never felt with you." I knew it was mean but I didn’t much care for his attitude.
"Well, don’t sugarcoat it or anything."
"I’m sorry, Thomas, but what did you expect? You come here unannounced after declaring, for the second time, that we want different things and should explore our options, and then you’re upset that I’m actually doing it? I spent months trying to figure out my life after you left and this is the first time I’ve even remotely felt anything for someone else."
"I’m sorry," he said and I knew he meant it. "You’re right. And for the record, you looked really happy. It just surprised me so much because I figured you’d hook up with Michael, not Lance. And honestly, after our call yesterday I was just missing you so much that I thought I’d come see you instead of calling again. I was hoping we could maybe get together, just for a night, but…"
"For the record, I haven’t hooked up with anyone. Lance and I started the day as friends and realized somewhere in the middle that there might just be something more. And he’s not a hook up type of guy. And you really have to get over this Michael thing." I smiled as I said that because it really was ridiculous.
"I guess I’d better get back home," he sighed. "I’m sorry I ruined your evening."
"You didn’t," I assured him then started to apologize for him seeing Lance and I together but stopped since it wasn’t my fault and I wasn’t actually sorry about it.
"You really did seem happy, Christina. Happier than I’ve seen you in a long time."
"I am happy, Thomas. And you will be too. I’m certain of it."
We hugged goodbye and I wished him well then made my way up the stairs and called Lance before I did anything else.
"I am so sorry," I said after he answered.
"Is everything okay?"
"It is. We talked for a bit and he was fine."
"And everything’s really over between you two? Because I don’t want to start something just to have it end because you’re out exploring and realize he’s the one you’re supposed to be with."
"It’s over, Lance. Even he saw how happy I am with you and how perfect we are together. Granted, he didn’t use those exact words but I could tell that he knew."
"And you don’t have any lingering feelings for him?"
"We were together for two years, and I’d be lying if I said I was completely over him. There will probably always be a small part of me that looks back at that relationship with extreme fondness but I know we’re not meant to be. We really do want different things and what I felt with you today? That’s what it’s supposed to feel like. That’s what it feels like when you find the one."
"I think so too."
We let the silence hang between us for a few moments as we each took in the idea that we’d found the one we were meant to be with. I wished he were there so I could feel his arms around me and touch his lips with mine. I wished he wasn’t all about waiting until he was married, and then, out of the blue, I wished we were married. And that’s when I really knew that he was the one. I’d said the words before but until that moment, until I saw myself in the dress walking down the aisle, I didn’t know for certain.
"So how do you see this working since you’re about to go on the road?"
"I see a lot of nights I’ll wish I was an accountant instead of a musician," he laughed. "But we’ll talk every night and Skype or FaceTime or whatever. I won’t get to kiss you goodnight but at least I can see your face and your smile and damn I wish you were here right now. I just want to hold you close until I can’t anymore. I don’t suppose you’d want to come over, would you?"
"I thought you’d never ask."
I picked up Chinese on the way and after he gave me a lovely hello kiss we sat down on the floor in his living room, put on an old movie and ate and laughed and held each other close until it was well passed my work night bedtime.
"I’d better get home," I said when I realized the time. "I’m going to be a complete zombie at work tomorrow."
"But it was worth it, right?" he grinned.
"So worth it," I smiled then gave him a quick kiss on his lips.
I helped him clean up the to-go containers then took his hand as he walked me to the sidewalk to wait for a cab. We made plans for the next night for dinner then kissed a little more before the cab arrived.
"Thanks for an amazing day and night," I said as he opened the door for me. "Goodnight."
"I’ll see you tomorrow," he smiled then closed the door after I slid in.
"Was that Lance Masters?" the cab driver asked as we drove away.
"Yes it was," I smiled.
"Were you the one that was with him at Coney Island today?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Oh yeah, it was all over the news tonight and the Internet. Saw it just before I got on duty. There were some pictures some kids took and a video too."
"Oh my god."
"You two looked pretty happy," he continued.
"We are," I smiled despite being completely freaked out about being on the Internet and on the news. I was surprised no one had called but then I’d talked to him for a long time and hadn’t paid much attention to anything else.
"Well good for you," he said and I was so happy to be arriving at my building. "It’s hard to find the one these days so you hang on to that."
"Thanks, I will," I smiled and gave him an extra big tip. "Goodnight."
Once I was back upstairs I turned on the entertainment news channel and sure enough, the photos and video he’d referred to were all over it. “Rock star Lance Masters appears to have a new woman in in his life. The two were seen canoodling at Coney Island today and rumor has it they’ve known each other since their college days. Has the world’s sexiest rock star finally found the one? Or is this just another flash in the pan?”
I picked up my phone and sent a text to Lance.
I had no idea I was dating the world’s sexiest rock star. Also, what does canoodling even mean?
I just saw it. I’m so sorry but I’m glad it’s out there.
It’s fine. I was surprised but it comes with the territory in dating you, right?
Apparently. I don’t know how they found out about college though. That was weird.
People can find out anything online these days.
I guess so. Well I guess you’re in it for good now. ;-)
I was already in it for good.
Goodnight. I’ll see you tomorrow.
I checked into Twitter and found tons of chatter about the photos and Lance and me, even though they didn’t know who I was yet. Most of it was positive though there were a few mean girl comments, which were weirdly hurtful considering they didn’t know me at all. I supposed that came with the territory and stopped reading after a few more minutes.
I was just about to crawl into bed when a text popped in from Michael. I hadn’t heard from him since he left the club the night before and was actually glad to know he was still alive.
I had to find out about you and Lance from the Internet? What gives?
Sorry. :-) It happened so fast and I’ve barely had time to get used to it myself.
That’ll teach me to leave you in a club on your own. ;-)
Ha ha. How are you?
A little broken hearted. I guess there really is no chance for you and me is there?
It’s okay. I know I’ve just been kidding myself. I mean if it didn’t happen right away after things broke up with Thomas I guess it was never going to.
I’m sorry if I hurt you.
I’m okay. Just as long as you’re happy.
I really am. What happened with the girl from the club?
We had fun. ;-)
I knew I didn’t need to ask if she slept over because they always did with Michael. And he made no apologies for any of it. That’s probably one of the reasons I knew it would never be right for us. Even though I wasn’t as strict in my beliefs as Lance I also wasn’t about the random one-night stands like Michael was.
Uh huh. And?
And that’s all. Anyway, I’m going to bed but I had to check in. Let’s get dinner one night this week.
Two years later, almost to the day, Lance asked me to marry him inside the photo booth at Coney Island. I have the pictures to prove it. They’re framed next to the ones from the day we kissed for the first time and the ones from our wedding. They sit in a prominent place on our bookshelves next to the photos of our twin boys and our two dogs. We built a family together and I never thought once that it wasn’t the right thing. I wanted it with him, all of it, and it worked better than I ever could have imagined.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Hey, beautiful," he said once he’d exhausted the boys and sent them off to bed.
"Hey, you," I smiled as he sat down next to me and pulled me into his arms.
"What were you thinking about while I was playing with the boys?"
"Just how I never thought this is where my life would end up and how it’s more perfect than I ever could have dreamed."
"Can you believe it’s been almost ten years?"
"Twelve if you count our two years of dating."
"Close to twenty if you count from the day we actually met."
"I’m glad you’re home," I smiled then kissed the corner of his mouth.
"I’m glad you’re what I get to come home to."
"Mmm, nice line," I smiled and kissed him again.
"I think we better take this to the bedroom," he breathed as he kissed me back.
We welcomed a little girl to our family nine months later and as I put her framed baby photo next to all the others I said a silent thank you to Thomas for breaking things off all those years earlier. In many ways my amazing family and life were all because he had the guts to step away.
"What are you doing?" he asked as he wrapped his arms around me from behind while I stared at our photos.
"Honestly? I was just thanking Thomas for breaking up with me."
"Okay," he said and I could tell he thought I might have gone momentarily crazy.
"Think about it," I said as I turned and wrapped my arms around him. "If he hadn’t decided to leave and if we hadn’t had that long heart-to-heart that night, I might have never come to the club and we might have never gone to Coney Island and all of this might have never happened."
"Well then, thank you, Thomas," he smiled. "I owe you everything."
© Carrie M. Medders