They’d fought differently recently, all coldness and quiet fury, both often hidden beneath layers of patently false good cheer and solicitousness. It was easier than screaming at each other, both for their nerves and their voices, but it seemed to have placed them on uncertain footing. Maybe that was worse.
“I just thought it might be nice to have a bit more harmony on the chorus, y’know,” she said, like it was a fresh idea and not something she’d been trying to convince him of for several hours.
“I disagree.” And god, if his face was any less communicative, he’d be made of stone.
“It’s my song,” she insisted. “My decision.”
Lindsey sighed and leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers. Grand master of all he surveyed was the image he was trying to project, maybe always had been, she sometimes thought. “You said you trusted me,” he replied, voice laced with disappointment. He was trying to guilt her into changing her mind. Again.
He threw his arms up. Disgust. He really was running the gamut this afternoon but, thank god, at least the volume with which he spoke had stayed on a nice even keel. “I’m just saying. I thought we’d agreed it would be different this time.”
“And I didn’t think that all the compromises would have to be made by me.” Civility achieved. Well done, Stevie. She wondered if he noticed the threat inherent in her tone. It wasn’t too late to walk away from the project.
“I’m sorry,” he said through gritted teeth, and even though they both knew it wasn’t sincere, she nodded, accepted the apology. “Look, how about we try the harmony then? No promises, though.”
“No, you wouldn’t want to end up in the tricky position of having to break a promise, after all. That never ends well.”
Perhaps not subtle enough… He rolled his eyes. “It wasn’t just my decision, Stevie, if you remember. And we agreed not to talk about it.”
“No, naturally. We only talk about things like that when you want to.”
He turned in his chair, focusing on the mixing board like he hadn’t even heard her comment. An maybe it was easier that way, both of them pretending he hadn’t. She wasn’t exactly spoiling for a big blowout argument, but she couldn’t deny that ruffling his feathers would make her a whole lot better. She was a better person than that, though; well, she was trying to be.
“Mmm,” he acknowledged, fiddling with the volume on his lead guitar track in a frustratingly absorbed manner. If she stuck her tongue out at him right now, if she gave him the finger, he wouldn’t even notice. It was tempting. But then they’d learned in recent years that, if given enough motivation, they could actually avoid giving into temptation. That had been a long time coming, that particular lesson.
“Are we going to ignore it forever?”
“Ignore what?” he said, finally turned back to her, a too-blank expression on his face. Playing ignorant had always come as second nature to him.
“I just hope you’re happy, y’know,” she said quietly. And she truly meant it. One of the bitterest pills to swallow had been the realization that he was, in many ways, a happier person without her than with. It wasn’t that he loved his wife more than her; she knew that wasn’t the case. But family? She hadn’t been able to give him that. And now he had it, a dependable, dutiful wife, and two little darling children who worshiped the ground he walked on almost as much as he treasured them. Sometimes it was difficult not to wallow in envy.
“I want you to be happy too. I always wanted that for you.”
The ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t make you happy’ went unspoken. By both of them.