Republisher’s Note: Even if you haven’t read one word of the rest of the story, read tonight’s. This is basically the conversation they must have had off screen somewhere after Carmen revealed Drew slept with Danny.
Author’s Note: This story is NC-17.
The Long Walk Into His Arms by JenniferH Chapter 13 - An Illusion of Control
“I know you love me,” he finally speaks, “but it hurts because when you said that last night, I felt it. I believed it. I still do.”
And then the tears return. And I am once again helpless to stop them.
“I love you so much.” His voice is so soft, its nearly a whisper and I can hear the tears choking his voice. “Michelle, I love you….” I love you too, I think, but do not say. “I would give anything for you, to be with, do anything and I look at you sometimes and I think, it’s not the same for you. I wonder: when is she gonna leave me? When is she gonna walk away? When is she gonna realize that she doesn’t really love me? I question that you love me every single day of my life, of course I believed you last night. How could I not?”
He is quiet and so I am. The moments pass by and the air around us goes thick with words spoken and unspoken. Finally, he sits down in front of me, his hands gripping fists of sand. I look up at him, but his gaze is directed downwards.
“Danny, Aunt Meta told me something once.” My voice is surprisingly steady. Perhaps he looks up because of this. My eyes are clear and I see his face without the veil of tears.
“She told me that its better when a man loves a woman just a little bit more. I never forgot that, thought it made sense and besides it’s always been the case for me.” I smile slightly, not in joy or bitterness, just in acknowledgment.”I’ve known Bill since we were practically born and everyone thought we would be together someday, marry, have 2.5 kids, the picket fence, the dog in front of the fireplace. The whole nine yards, you know?”
He nods, but I can see the confusion in his eyes still, he is listening. He is listening to me.
“It worked in theory, you know, because Bill always liked me better. I was in control. I made the decisions; I had the final say. But then we grew up and I didn’t like him that way, and maybe he still liked me, but I was in control. I had the final say and so the scenario changed. I knew a few other guys, but Jesse was my first real boyfriend and it was the same with him. I was in control. He loved me just a little bit more. And that was how it should be. And I believed that that is how it was with you.”
I look down, my gaze trapped by the gentle patterns he is making in the sand. “I love you, but I wanted to believe that you loved me just that little bit more,” and a silent tear slips from my eye, “because that meant I was in control. I couldn’t be hurt … not really. Not completely.”
I stop and let out a heavy sigh. “I’ve never talked about this; I’ve never wanted to. It’s been easier – so much easier – to just keep it locked away.”
“Michelle?” his voice is quiet, just the slightest tremble in the word. I shut my eyes tight, a few more tears spilling forth and then I open them, looking at my husband.
“My mother loved my father so much. She was already a forgiving woman, but for him, she went the extra mile she was willing to forgive him just about anything. She loved him so much. His late hours, his dedication to his patients that often superseded the needs of his family, his affairs, his alcoholism…. she forgave him, she supported him, she accepted him completely.”
I laugh lightly and look up into the sky. The stars are so bright, the moon glowing like a beacon and I think that I can feel my soul being cleansed the same pristine color as I speak. “I never told you this, I don’t like to talk about it, but I was conceived out of one of my father’s affairs.”
I glance at him quickly to catch his reaction – his expression does not change. He looks reflective, he is listening to me. Truly listening to what I am saying and hearing what I mean, what is behind the words.
“So Maureen Bauer is not…” he begins.
“-my birth mother. No, she’s not. Claire Ramsey is my birth mother’s name. Basically, she was a lousy mother, so lousy that after my mother — Maureen, that is – forgave my father, they petitioned the courts for full custody and it was granted and Maureen adopted me. I don’t know even know what Claire Ramsey looks like now. I saw her picture once. She wasn’t my mother.”
I look away again as I ask him, “do you know how my mother died?”
“A car accident, right?”
I look at him,” technically yes. My mother died in a car accident. But do you know why she was in that car?”
“No,” he says softly as he shakes his head.
“She had just found out that he had an affair with Lillian Raines, one my mother’s best friends. I was upstairs in my room, covering my ears, trying not to hear their fighting. Her cries, the pain in her voice. His useless, stupid defense. Lillian was sick, Lillian needed a friend. Lillian needed comfort.” I laugh and it comes out harsher than I intended, as do my next words, “just like Drew.”
My eyes follow the sudden tightening of his hands, but I don’t take the words back. I couldn’t if I tried. “It hurt me so much, because it wasn’t just a drunken, one night stand, not to me. Just like my father, you slept with a friend when she needed comfort.”
“No,” and he looks up at me. “No,” he repeats with more vehemence in his voice. “Not because she needed comfort. I didn’t care about her. I cared about me – I cared about what you had done to me. It had nothing to do with her – and it certainly wasn’t the first or second or hundredth in a line of affairs. I am NOT your father. If I had believed once during that night that you cared about me just a little, that our marriage had even the slightest chance of working I wouldn’t have touched her.”
I close my eyes, nodding my head. “I know. I know that now, but then, that’s all I could think of, but I couldn’t tell you that. I couldn’t tell you all of it why it hurt me so much, Danny.”
“Why not? Why couldn’t you tell me? Why now?” There is so much confusion in his eyes, in his voice and I realize how much I have held back from him without ever meaning to, but I had.
“I couldn’t give myself to you completely. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t give you the power to hurt me like my father hurt my mother. I refused to allow that I could love you as much as you loved me – I needed that extra bit that you gave me. I needed my control.”
“But last night, when Nino,” and I stop, his face and then his lifeless body swarming before my eyes. I breathe in and out, trying to hold on to the words I need to tell my husband, trying to escape the horror of what I’d done. And then Danny’s hand is on my arm, he doesn’t take me into his embrace, but he touches me and that contact is enough to give me back my equilibrium.
“It’s hard,” I say shakily. “It just keeps hitting me, you know? What I did.”
He nods and the rubbing on my arm lightens until it is just a caress, a soft, soothing caress. Neither one of us speaks and the mood shifts slightly in the air. I find myself swaying towards him and our eyes meet. His are dark and smoky and I want him, I want to be with him with everything in me but I can’t.
I tear my gaze away, and hear his sigh as he drops his arm.
“What about Nino?” he asks shakily.
I am silent for a moment, searching for my train of thought. My mother. Nino. Control. My control. “When Nino called and he said that he was going to kill you, something inside of me snapped and I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t. But I do now. I realized it this afternoon. Cassie asked me if loving you, if the good times were worth the bad times and I knew they were without doubt, I knew.”
“And I knew that I said those things last night because I wanted to hurt you. I wanted to make myself not love you so much. I wanted my control back. See, that’s what snapped, that’s what I lost. Or maybe it was always just an illusion. An illusion that I’ve held onto for so long because when you slept with Drew, when you did that, it was my father all over again.”
“I get that, Michelle, I do. I get that now, but -”
“-Danny,” I have to cut him off, because he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t. It’s not about Drew. It’s not even about my father and his affairs. “Last night, what I said to you – it was because of the realization that I did love you, I loved you as much as you loved me. I would do anything, ANYTHING for you. I was just like my mother. And those words came from that twelve-year old girl who heard her mother’s heart breaking – not from the woman who loves you now.”