Haven

He arrives at ten pm, guitar in one hand and a small overnight bag in the other. She answers the door herself (Karen’s busy feeding Sulamith) and can’t stop herself from greeting him with a kiss. Presumptive, perhaps, but this late visit has become something far more regular than she’d ever expected when he first dropped by a few weeks ago with no explanation and even less hesitation in sharing her bed later that night.

-

They’re sitting on the couch in silence and she doesn’t want to break it, both because she’s afraid and because she’s excited at the nervous tension she senses in the man next to her. He’s tapping away on the light, patterned fabric and she places a hand on top of his, stills the movement. He shoots her an apologetic grin, flips his hand, and she can soon feel him tracing lines on her palm. It tickles instead of relaxing her and she wiggles away from him as much as possible much to his consternation. He shoots her a warning look and she grins, shifts further along the couch, wanting to make the most of this moment of abandon and fun, tease him as much as possible. She doesn’t get very far before his fingertips are inching up under her top and he’s practically covering her with his body, pressing his warm lips against hers. Once she would have found this suffocating; now she thrums with need and kisses him back enthusiastically.

-

The bed just seems warmer with him in it; that’s all there is to it, she thinks. She told Lori as much yesterday and got an eye-roll for the trouble but, honestly, she can’t remember the last time she felt so comfortable. Maybe it’s because it’s been far too long since she’s woken in the morning next to him but she just wants to curl up against his body (and does he buy shirts somewhere special? because it is SO soft) and enjoy the sensation. His large hand rests low on her hip and she enjoys watching the way his face scrunches up when she tries to evade his touch - not out of a desire not to be touched but just to savor his reaction - by shifting away from him. Even in sleep, he’s possessive. For three nights (four? she’s losing count and she doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or not…) he had been gone by the time Karen had come in with a fresh cup of coffee. But she can hear the knock on the door and her lover is still beside her sleeping soundly. She manages to get out from under the blankets and meets her assistant at the door, inching it open just enough so she can get the mug in her clutches. Karen raises a curious eyebrow and she can’t help giving a smug look in return. Because he stayed.

-

She doesn’t ask if he’s going to stay and he doesn’t ask if he can. They watch an old Hepburn movie on the television (the room is dark and quiet and they’re cuddled up on the couch) and she feels like a teenager again out on her first date when she feels him slip an arm around her, cradle her to his side. She leans her head on his chest and closes her eyes and she can hear his heartbeat and it’s all kinds of wonderful and odd that they’re in this place again. When the credits start to roll, she wakes up to his fingers tangling in her hair, playing with it, and the way he’s looking at her, treasuring her, makes her want him to say all the things they don’t allow themselves to say anymore. Sighing happily, she entwines their fingers. She can feel that familiar silver band against her skin and she wonders if he’ll take it off when they make love later tonight.

-

He laughed when she rang up during the day and informed him that she wanted to make dinner for him. Apparently, that was making a lot of assumptions. He was, however, far less mocking when she told him she’d cook his favorite meal for him. Now he’s trying to help and she feels that familiar frustration with him - he’s being very endearing but he really is in the way and it’s been a long time since she tried cooking like this; she’s out of practice and he better not screw it up for her. Or else. She wants to ask if his wife cooks often but she doesn’t want to hear that Kristen does, that she’s actually wonderfully domestic and caring. Feeling strangely proud of herself, she lets her partner taste off the spoon and the way he groans and smacks his lips makes her self-conscious but pleased. He leaves hot sauce behind when he kisses her cheek in thanks and, after he licks it off, he shoots her what she thinks is meant to be a sexy, seductive look. She laughs in his face and tells him she’s hungry too.

-

One night he doesn’t arrive at her house until two in the morning. He lets himself in with his spare key and she glares at him when he sheepishly enters her bedroom, armed with flowers and a glass of wine. His apologies are sincere and he grovels an amusingly outrageous amount. He had promised to be here for their planned dinner, after all, she points out. She doesn’t tell him she’d been worried he wouldn’t show up at all; that kind of acknowledged neediness is not going to become part of their relationship, no matter what. They both know it anyway and they both have too much pride. When he begins to give his reasons and one of the first words out of his mouth is ‘wife’ she shuts him up with a small hand over his mouth. She thinks he understands and when he nods, she tells him there’s a vase for the flowers in the kitchen if he wants to go and get it. For the third day in a row, she wakes up in his arms. She wonders what the children think, if they’ve even noticed their father has been spending his nights somewhere else. She hopes not.

-

He sits cross-legged on her bed, and he’s looking apprehensively at his iPod in her hands. Will has managed to put some of his demos onto the device for him and, when he’d mentioned it over the phone earlier, she’d asked if she could hear them. She doesn’t say anything as the five songs play through and holds back a smile when she sees him watching her with a furrowed brow; he apparently still craves her approval as much as she does his. When the playlist ends he asks for her thoughts and she tells him that she loves him too.

-

He doesn’t want to talk about it, apparently. Her not so subtle questions have resulted in almost being frozen out and she’s not comfortable with this turn of events. They’ve kept things fairly light the past few weeks, haven’t really discussed exactly what they’re doing and why and where this is even going. Tonight, though, she’s made the mistake of asking whether Kristen has confronted him about his disappearing act every night and followed it up with a huff of annoyance when he refused to answer. Now they sit at opposite ends of the couch, staring at the advertisements on the TV and acting like they’re the only person in the living room. She craves what it’s been like and tries to get back there, tells him that she’s thinking about reworking some of her recent poetry into songs, even hints that maybe he could help. If he wanted. It’s a topic they’ve skirted around before, being more collaborative, just the two of them, and she hopes it’ll thaw the mood somewhat. It doesn’t.

-

She watches him walk out the door in the morning, gives him a hug and a kiss goodbye and manages to stop herself from asking him to stay longer. She needs to remember he has a family at home, responsibilities, other people who he needs to be with. Sometimes she knows how selfish she’s being and sometimes that overrides this increasing desire to press for MORE that she’s felt lately. The way he clings to her before he leaves, his arms tight around her and his head buried in her neck, tells her (shows her) that maybe he feels it too.

-

"It’s over," he says one night over dinner and her fork clatters to the table because he can’t, not now, not when… "She told me she couldn’t do this anymore and served me with the divorce papers yesterday."

Oh.

"Can I stay tonight?" he asks.

Forever, she wants to say.

HNicole BarkerHComment