It was a hot summer’s day. To be honest, Kristen thought even if it was the depth of winter it would be hot here - it was hard to imagine anything else. Flicking through one of the magazines she’d brought with her on vacation, she kept one eye on the gorgeous cashmere coat she was currently coveting and the other on Will, who appeared to be flirting (charmingly, of course) with a young lady as they made their way past the breaking waves. Lindsey lay beside her, strumming on a new guitar he’d just purchased last week, and she was fairly sure that if he didn’t stop playing that same three bars over and over again, she was going to go mad. If she wasn’t already. Sometimes it was hard to tell.
"Lindsey, be a dear and just relax for awhile, okay? You were planning on doing some work later so just read a book, maybe?"
He grunted in return, starting to try out some lyrics. She sometimes found it fascinating, watching him as he worked out a song, the chords and words coming together in a way that hurt her brain to contemplate. In the past few years, however, observing this creation and seeing the result had become more and more of a trial, more of a test to her patience.
She hoped silently that the words ‘dream’, ‘ocean’, ‘crime’, ‘line’, and ‘fire’ wouldn’t cross his lips.
She breathed in the ocean air with relish, watching as Karen unpacked her suitcase with her usual care and efficiency. It was such a joy to finally be back here. Stevie had contemplated staying at home in LA but after a day of futile scribbling in her diary, trying to work her poems into something that would actually be workable in the context of Fleetwood Mac, she’d decided that coming here would be a more worthwhile use of her time. After all, what else did she need to inspire her? The sea and the old problem - Lindsey’s close physical proximity versus his emotional distance. Though the latter hadn’t been the case much lately… Thankfully.
The bay windows let a wonderful light through into the room, glancing off the large mirror in the corner and enchanting her. Beautiful. Outside, she could see enough people - individuals, couples, families, to keep her interested for quite some time. Observing, watching, learning was something that she could never tire of. She indicated for Karen to join her as she finally saw what she knew she had been truly keeping a sharp eye out for.
"He’s there. See? Walking along the beach with Stella?"
"In the blue shirt?"
"I love when he wears blue."
"I guess we’re just lucky he’s not wearing that leather jacket. I’ve seen enough of that in the past four months to last me a lifetime…"
"I think I might go for a walk."
Her dad was sometimes the most irritating person in the world. Apparently he had a sixth sense or something because every single time the cute boy with the curly blonde hair had come over to talk to her so far this vacation, her father had come over to ruin the moment. This was the worst so far though - he persisted in calling her that stupid nickname and messing up her hair and treating her like she was five and, god knows, she would never get a boyfriend at this rate. She’d seen the boy’s laughter bubbling up and had clenched her fists, grit her teeth and steered them both back over to her mom. Couldn’t she keep him occupied or something? She almost wished he were back on tour…
Leelee pulled her favorite new shirt over her head (the boy hadn’t even looked at her bikini or what it nearly covered, the idiot) and sat down near her mom with a sigh.
"Dad being his usual helpful, over-protective self?" her mother asked, amused.
"Can’t he find something to distract him?"
They watched curiously as he suddenly placed his guitar down and almost ran over to the main path that led to the beach.
"Mom, what’s he doing now?"
She watched as her father wrapped his arms around a short woman and paused her iPod, curious.
"Oh. I, you’ve got to be - Honey, it looks like apparently, Ms Stevie Nicks tired of LA…"
"You mean she missed Dad?"
She could see the dark clouds in her mom’s eyes and turned the music back on.
"I think Sulamith must be the most adorable dog ever!" Stella proclaimed vehemently, as she cuddled the dog close to her.
Stevie held out a small treat for her pet, watching as she snapped at it hungrily. “She nearly forgets I’m here when you’re around, sweetie.”
"But you get her ALL the time."
"Well, maybe when our tour finishes, I’ll just have to visit a little more."
She tried to ignore the stony faced Kristen who was sitting on the other couch (what, she needed supervision now?!) and concentrated on Lindsey’s youngest daughter who was giggling helplessly as the Yorkie licked her face affectionately.
"Think your poor old dad can handle that, Stella?"
She rolled her eyes in a way that was so grown up it almost took Stevie aback. “You’re very silly sometimes. You know he would LOVE you to visit more. He always get all sad when he finishes talking to you on the phone.”
Oh. Children really were the fount of all knowledge and wisdom… She wrapped an arm around Lindsey’s daughter and kissed her hair softly. “You’re so precious to me.”
Stella wriggled in closer, still petting Sulamith. “Can I keep your dog then?”
Lindsey was thankful the walls were thick. He’d been grateful for such architectural mercies in the past before of course (a particularly energetic, loud night on the Mirage tour sprang to mind immediately…) but this was for a totally different kind of reason.
"How dare she?!" Kristen shouted through near gritted teeth as Lindsey found himself backed against the dresser, his wife’s finger jabbing him in the chest. She was usually a fairly easy person to love, Kristen, easygoing and sweet, but apparently something had hit a nerve. And frankly, he was feeling more than a little annoyed. "She cannot just force herself into our life like this. She gets you every fucking day on tour and then I, your actual wife if you care to remember, finally gets you for vacation and she turns up, all enticing smiles and false pretenses."
"What? You think she just HAPPENED to turn up in Hawaii at the same time we did? Are you really that gullible, Lindsey, or has your brain just been pulverised by her repeated efforts to play the tambourine in time?"
"Don’t you dar-"
She was almost laughing hysterically now. “Oh, for christ’s sake. You’re going to defend her on this, aren’t you?”
"Well, it’s not like we own the island, Kristen. She has a right to be here. And we’re old friends; why wouldn’t we make the most of the opportunity and spend some time together?"
"Spend some time together? Have you forgotten that you’ve just spent four months on the road with her? What, you just stop talking to her the minute you leave the stage?"
"Well, no, but…"
"Lindsey. I don’t think you understand. I want her to leave."
Laughing, he ran a hand through his mussed hair. “Kristen, this is ridiculous!”
"I won’t lose you."
"Darling, of course not. You know how things are with us. I promised you I wouldn’t do that again."
"You both seem to have a habit of breaking promises…‘Yes, Kristen, I won’t sleep with Stevie again’, ‘Yes, Kristen, I’ll not write quite so obviously about Stevie’, ‘Yes, Kristen, I will be totally professional with Stevie and nothing more’."
"I’m going for a walk. Will’s out with some friends at the beach and Stella and Leelee are over with Stevie, probably falling in love with her and her dog and clothes all over again. Feel free to go over. Just try not to accidentally tell her you love her in front of our daughters. Or make out with her. That would be appreciated…"
"You don’t need to be so snide, Kit…"
"You don’t need to be so obviously still enamored of your ex-girlfriend. But you are. So how about you not tell me how to speak when I have a husband who won’t ever love his wife as much as an unfaithful, ditzy bandmate?"
The door slammed behind her.
Lindsey drew in a deep breath and headed over to Stevie’s condo. To check on his daughters. Of course.
Kristen had rung a few hours ago, claiming she’d been roped into spending some time with a newly met friend for most of the evening. The brittle edge to her voice had suggested to Lindsey that it was a convenient escape route but he’d not been in the mood to argue, especially when he knew Stevie was standing just a few feet away from him, a concerned expression on her face…
He and the kids had spent far more time at Stevie’s place than he’d initially planned and as he shifted back on the couch, kissing his daughter’s rosy cheek, she accidentally speared him in the stomach with her book. Will was streaming a few episodes of Adventure Time on Karen’s laptop apparently, last time he’d checked, Leelee keeping him company in one of the guest rooms. Apparently, it wasn’t cool to spend much time with his ‘old man’ on vacation and suffering through dinner at the table an hour or so earlier had been punishment enough.
"Are you going to read this or not, Daaaad?" Stella asked, jabbing him again.
"Oof. Darling, can you please try not to kill Daddy? Or there won’t BE anyone to read your story to you."
She grinned and turned to the older woman sitting by her side. “Stevie will, won’t you? You’re not irreplaceable, Dad, you know…”
"Ouch!" Stevie exclaimed, laughing at the mock forlorn expression on her musical partner’s face. He held back his own smile and tickled his squirming daughter, placing the violent weapon of a book on the floor while he wrought his revenge.
Five minutes later he couldn’t stop the laughter erupting from deep within his chest as Stevie collapsed under the constant tickles from he and Stella and started crying and gasping for breath between the giggles. Curled up in a ball on the couch she was obviously trying to protect her stomach and sides from their brutal attack and it only made him more determined. Yes, this was childish; yes, this was silly; but god, he felt happy. Stella brushed a loose strand of hair away from her reddened face and he smiled at them. “I think that might be enough, Miss Buckingham. We wouldn’t want her to call the cops on us.”
"I don’t think they’d arrest us for tickling unless they’ve made new laws."
"I don’t think we want to risk Stevie’s wrath, little miss!"
"I think you already have," Stella laughed as she pointed out Stevie’s flushed face and clenched fists.
"Should we run away?"
"I’ll hunt you down, Mr Buckingham," Stevie promised, crossing her heart before sitting up properly on the couch. "You WILL pay for that."
"I’LL pay for it? What about my accomplice?!"
"She needs to be punished with some ice-cream for dessert, I think.."
"Harsh but fair," Lindsey nodded, standing up and turning to the kitchen. "I’ll get it, okay?"
"Good luck finding any in that freezer. I looked earlier and I’m pretty certain that Karen bought out whole freezer section in that new supermarket in town."
"Well, there’ll be enough for the two tech-addicts in the other room then, at least."
"And for me."
"Especially for you. Always for you," he elaborated before meeting Stevie’s eyes, widened in surprise and gratitude. "Honey, you wait here, okay, and Stevie and I will get you some dessert. You want sprinkles?"
He laughed and followed Stevie to the large kitchen. It was very white, very spacious, very tidy. She wasn’t. Hair all messy, loose and flowing, shirt askew and pants wrinkled, shoes off, Lindsey was fairly sure God was testing him. The material of her top had slipped down from her shoulder and he found himself trying not to stare too much at the unblemished bare skin showing. Enticing, that’s what she was. Frustrated, that’s what he was. He edged closer to where she stood, warily watching him from behind the counter in the center of the room.
"Lindsey?" she questioned softly.
He wasn’t sure exactly the steps that he took to get there but before she could speak again, he was holding her against his highly strung body, pressing her close. He could feel her breathing, in, out, comforting really, and almost could hear her heartbeats keeping time with his. She leant her head against his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist, fingers interlocking behind him. He could feel the corner of the bench digging into his lower back but ignored the uncomfortable nature of it and focused on the warmth of Stevie’s breath against his neck.
"Linds-" she ventured again, sounding suddenly unsure of herself.
"No." He lowered his head slightly to drop a kiss on Stevie’s forehead as she considered him carefully. Her lashes were so long from this angle… He kissed her cheek, lingering as he felt her arms tighten their hold on him. Rubbing her back, he let his lips trail a bit further down, a soft kiss right near her lips.
"Linds-" She sounded more than unsure now and as he felt her grip loosening and felt her take a step back, he followed her. She kept moving and he found that before another word was uttered, he had backed her up against a cupboard door. "You can’t-"
"No, I shouldn’t."
Her eyes were darker than before, the flush on her cheeks had moved to her neck, and he could see her itching to fidget with the hem of her top as was her wont. Oh, god. He was suddenly glad Stella’s patience had increased over the past years; he seemed to recall promising they would just be gone for a minute to get her some ice-cream. Would she notice if he stayed here in the kitchen forever?
Lindsey unwrapped Stevie’s arms from around him, moving them between their bodies so he could clasp her hands in his, rubbing his thumb along the small gold band on the left hand. She looked up at him, a strange (yet so very familiar) mixture of excitement and dread in her flashing eyes. “Stevie, Steph… I have to, baby. I have to.”
As soon as his lips touched hers, Lindsey felt her reach for him, her fingers tracing his jaw as she angled her head to better have access to his warm, wet mouth. She pressed herself closer, all straining eagerness and desire and he groaned into her mouth as he felt her tongue touch his. Oh christ almighty. He needed, he wanted… Lindsey growled low in his throat as one of her hands found him and stroked him through his pants. No, no, no, he…
"Oh my - Dad!!!???"
Oh. Christ. He pulled away as quickly as he could, staring with wild, wide eyes at his young daughter who was standing shocked in the doorway to the kitchen.
He tried to resist the urge to turn back around to Stevie and stepped forward, his legs feeling weaker than a newborn foal’s. Oh, god. This was and what if she told Kristen and what must she think and…
Lindsey tried to put an arm around his daughter and feeling her resistance he settled for placing a hand on the small of her back and steering them both back into the living room silently. Sighing, he sat down, Stella beside him, and watched as an even more disheveled, guilty-looking Stevie followed suit.
This was going to be a long night. And an even longer vacation.
Lindsey sighed as he got into bed, wanting to pull the comforter up over his head and just stay there for the rest of the vacation. Confrontations with his children apparently were harder on him than arguing with Kristen had ever been or ever was… Stella had sat there, all straight-backed and accusatory eyes, as he’d fumbled through an explanation of what his youngest daughter had seen. It hadn’t been enough.
Hearing his cell phone, he picked up immediately. It would be her. She’d promised to call as soon as she’d gotten back to her condo. He’d thought it would be a good idea for her not to be there as he talked with Stella and so she’d left with only a brief hug and a peck on the cheek. His ardor had cooled but that had just made him want more. Which was just so wrong but…
"Hi, Stevie," he answered the phone with, resting up against the headboard and fidgeting with the edge of the sheet. "Yes, I did. Um, I told her we’d been friends a really long time… Yes, she knew that. I explained that a long time ago we used to date and that sometimes those memories were brought back and overwhelmed us." Laughing, he switched the cell to his other ear. "Um, yeah, exactly. No, she just stared at me as I tried to explain. We both knew I was talking bullshit. She’s not three. She understood what she saw… I don’t know. I told her not to tell Will and Leelee about it but she informed me very gravely she was going to tell Mom. So, there’s that… Yes, I know. I guess we’ll take it as it comes. Kit’s still out anyway. The kids have gone to bed now so I’ll just wait up for her and I guess tell her everything. Well, no, not everything but… I have to, Stevie, you know that. What, I should just pretend nothing happened and let Stella spill the beans? We have a life. A family. I can’t just… No, I know. I love you too. You know that. Of course. We always knew this would be hard. She’ll forgive me. She has before," he added with a bitter laugh.
"I don’t think anything is too much for her to forgive. Yes, maybe but… It isn’t fair on her, we know that. Stevie… No, no, you know that’s not possible. Maybe you should just… Yes, exactly. I know it’s not fair on you either. I know. Christ, Stevie! Fine. Stay then. Just come over and have sex with me all night long? Would that help?! Fuck. Yeah, Kristen will enjoy coming back to seeing that. Don’t even joke about it! God. No. Yes, I love you but we just can’t… The tour is starting up again soon so we’ll be able to… No, of course it’s not fucking enough but what do you want me to do?!" Frowning, Lindsey turned his head slightly to where the door was slightly ajar. "Oh, fuck," he whispered into the phone. "Steph, I have to go. There’s someone at the door. No, not her. Will. Yeah. We’re total fuck ups, you know that, right? Love you."
His son’s expression was worse than he’d imagined was possible. Anger, shock and most of all hurt were clear as day on Will’s youthful, tanned face. He opened the door wider and entered the room without waiting for his father to say or do anything. Standing at the foot of the bed, he glared at Lindsey. “So?”
"I was just going to bed and heard Stella crying and she wouldn’t tell me what was wrong so I thought I’d come and ask you to maybe check on her. I see you wouldn’t have been much of a help what with you being the problem…"
"You’re cheating on Mom?"
"Really?" he asked, eyebrow raised disbelievingly. "Because I’m pretty sure I heard you just tell someone, Stevie?, you love them and talk about having sex with her and implying you’d be doing that and have been doing that on tour…. Or maybe I’m stupider than I thought."
"No, Will, you’re very intelligent but you can’t listen to a one side of a conversation and-"
"What, so what I just said isn’t what I heard?"
"Well, yes, but…"
William sat down on the edge of the bed, looking defeated all of a sudden, looking older than he really was. Like a young man. “I like Stevie, I do. I always have,” be begun, looking Lindsey right in the eyes. “But I LOVE Mom, Dad. She’s my MOM.”
"I know. And I love her too. Very much."
"Just not as much as you love Stevie…"
"It’s different. It’s just a different kind of love. I can’t go into the history and my mind and everything, Will, not now."
"It’s complicated. And very grown up."
"It’s not THAT complicated. You’ll notice I own a computer and have access to the internet. You may also remember that I have eyes and ears and have seen you interact with Mom and Stevie…"
"I was an accident. I know that."
Will held up a hand. “I WAS. That’s fine. I know you love me. So, from what I can tell, you and Stevie were together at the same time you and Mom were. And then I was born and you and Stevie stopped seeing each other for awhile. But because you’re both stupid and in love and co-dependent you sometimes STILL kept seeing each other - not just onstage - even though you were married with kids…”
"No. Look, I understand that you love Stevie. We ALL know that. But don’t you see how much it hurts Mom, knowing she’s always second?"
"I don’t meant to hurt her."
"But it happens."
"Yeah, it happens…"
"Having sex doesn’t JUST happen, Dad."
"No, it doesn’t. But…"
"No, I don’t need to know. I just… In OUR home? On OUR vacation, Dad?"
"Are you going to tell Mom?"
"Yeah, yeah, of course. I mean, we’re going to need to talk to Stella about it too so…"
"Why are you even still with Mom if you love Stevie so much that you can’t even keep your pants on in her presence?"
"Because I love your mom. She gave me a family. She gave me the most precious miracle I could’ve ever asked for. You. And Leelee and Stella. And I don’t want to ruin that."
Will looked consideringly at his father and then walked over to give him a hug. It almost felt like forgiveness and understanding but there was a hesitance there that was unusual. “Dad, I love you but you’re stupid sometimes.”
"I know, Will, I know. And I’m so sorry you had to hear that."
"So am I…" he said, an flicker of a smile crossing his face. "No teenager needs to hear some of those words coming from the mouth of his father…"
"That’s certainly true. I’ll talk to your mom when she gets home, okay?"
"Okay. Dad, just remember we all love you. Divorce wouldn’t change that." He tilted his head slightly as Lindsey stared agog at his son. "Truly. You know that, right?"
"Yeah. I, I know. But…"
"Good night, Dad."
And Will left, pulling the door firmly shut behind him.