I’ve been watching her work for almost an hour now, and as she turns to me flashing me a beautiful smile I sit in amazement. She is so happy taking these photos, I’d have to say it’s the happiest I’ve seen her outside of my bedroom. She’s glowing, and so confident as she poses Becca and Ethan. I’m lost in thought when I feel her arms snake around my shoulders as my chair moves a little forward, she’s plopped herself in my lap. I quickly pop the brake so we don’t go any further as she kisses my cheek and before I know it I see Becca standing in front of us, holding Taylor’s camera and snapping away. I, like most guys I know don’t like my picture taken, but I give a good cheesy grin because I’m genuinely happy. Happy with her, happy with how my life is going at the moment. She’s laughing beside me as I make goofy faces and I love the way it sounds next to my ear, I love the way she’s clinging to me, that she feels comfortable with me.
“Kiss me…” she whispers in my ear.
I turn then and plant a good one, taking her face in my hands. I nibble at her full bottom lip as she melts into me before I realize we are still being paparazzied. Putting the brakes on that, I pull back, but run my tongue up the side of her cheek and watch as she makes the most gorgeous disgusted face. I could get used to this.
I’m waiting, waiting for something but I just can’t figure out what it is, the dream so real, so vivid I wake with a start. I’ve been having this dream for a while now, and the fact that I can’t pinpoint what it means is making me a little crazy. As I lie here in Elliot’s very comfortable King size bed I’m wondering why I keep dreaming of waiting. Reaching out my arm to touch him I feel his side of the bed is cold, making me shiver. I roll over to look at the clock, it’s three in the morning, where did he go, I wonder. I listen for a few moments to see if he’s in the bathroom but I hear nothing. Slowly climbing from the bed I tug at the hem of his t-shirt as I tiptoe down the hallway finally hearing his voice.
“I know Ethan, I know you didn’t mean it,” I hear him whisper.
I stop, still as I can watching his nervous energy as he rubs his left thigh with his palm. I’ve noticed him doing this before. Silently as he continues his hushed conversation I lean against the wall, surprised he hasn’t sensed me yet. Almost a month has gone by since I took the maternity pictures with Becca and Ethan and while I’ve noticed them talking some, it hasn’t been the same. Elliot sits through Sunday dinners and immediately leaves the table when he’s finished, Ethan has lost all desire to annoy him. It’s strained and I don’t know if they’ll ever get that easygoing relationship back. I’ve watched their parents, little knowing looks as this has gone on like it will pass. Do they know what Ethan said to him that night? He told me at the cemetery, his cheeks wet with tears while my heart ached for him.
I don’t think he’s told anyone else in his family though and I know that is weighing heavy on him too. His hair is a mess, he’s shirtless, and while he is trying to convince Ethan of something, I’m trying to convince myself to not jump him. The muscles in his back and what I can see of his arms are tight, twitching as he tenses with each word. I zero in on that scar, the puckered skin, I can only imagine how angry it must have been at some point, now it’s silvery pink flesh is peeking out above the back of his chair. Even though we’ve been together for a while now, I’ve kept myself from exploring it.
“Ethan, just go to bed…” he whispers a little louder.
His head whips around then, as I let out a sigh, “Tay?”
“Sorry handsome, I woke up and you weren’t there…” I say, seeing the mix of worry and irritation on his gorgeous face.
“Ethan, please just go to bed, we can talk about this in the morning… goodnight,” he said before hanging up, “Sorry I woke you cupcake…”
“You didn’t wake me up, everything okay?” I ask.
“He’s drunk… he’s scared about the baby, and he feels bad about what he said,” he says coming to a stop in front of me.
“Yeah, so when are things going to go back to normal then…did he apologize?” I question.
“Yes… he apologized. I don’t know Taylor, I don’t know if it will ever be the same. I just keep hearing it over and over in my head, any time he’s around or when he calls…” he says tugging me down into his lap.
“What if the situation was reversed? Sometimes people say things specifically to hurt you when they are hurting El, and sometimes you just have to forgive that because we do stupid things when we can’t deal with whatever is hurting us,” I say, wrapping my arms around his neck.
“I don’t know if I can…I miss him, cupcake,” he says, his breath warm on my ear.
“You can, and you will,” I nuzzle against his neck.
I wake up and he’s gone again, this time, it’s not the dream that wakes me, but his alarm going off. I can hear him this time, the shower is on. I stretch, one of those glorious morning stretches, and curl back up letting my head rest on his pillow, his scent fills my nose. I could get used to this.
Carefully I extricate myself from her, as much as I want to, I just can’t lay here anymore. I drifted off briefly after we came back to bed but it was interrupted by the sounds of that night, the lights, the smells. Transferring into my chair I realize I’m running on fumes, it takes more effort than normal for me to get into the shower and I wonder how I’m going to make it through the day. Relishing in the way the hot water feels against my skin I briefly wonder where the dream came from. It’s been months since I’ve had one that vivid. I’m just thankful I didn’t wake up thrashing around as I think about what she would have thought about that. I can hear the alarm going off as I sit here, she’ll be up any minute now and despite the fact that I should get moving I just can’t force myself to do it. The beeping stops and I listen for her but all I can hear is the water ricocheting off the tiles around me. Finally, I push through the haze of lack of sleep and pick up the pace. When I open the door I pause her body curled up, her head on my pillow one hand tucked under her cheek, the other clutching the blankets.
Slowly, she lifts her head, her eyes heavy with sleep, giving me a small smile.
“Morning Elliot,” she says sleepily.
“Morning, cupcake,” I reply not ready to take my eyes off of her.
I watch as she climbs out of bed moving around it as she begins to tuck and place the pillows in their homes. Her ass peeks at me from under my t-shirt as she bends to smooth out the comforter until finally, she comes to me. A quick peck is all I’m given before she sneaks around me and the bathroom door closes. I sit frowning for a second at her quick getaway before getting moving again. While I’m putting my pants on I hear the water turn on and as I’m buttoning my shirt I hear her voice, she’s singing in the shower.
I dash quickly out to the kitchen to start the coffee and throw a few pieces of bread into the toaster and that’s when I see him. At least he had enough sense to pull the lounger close to the house, I think wondering how he even got here. I check the front window and his trucks isn’t there, breathing a sigh of relief I yell out to Taylor, “don’t come out here without some clothes Tay, Ethan’s here.” I say hoping she hears me.
I open the door quietly, I’m gonna wake his ass up, but I’m gonna be super irritating about in the process. I move smoothly across the deck, coming to a stop at the first bench storage and pull out a wire brush I use to clean the grill. Grinning viciously as move back towards him I pause briefly before whacking the metal brush against the metal stand next to the grill. I’m not gonna lie, the enjoyment I am getting from watching him jump out of the lounger, poised fists up is enough to make my week. Slowly as realization and the effects from his binge become evident he cringes, flopping down onto the chair.
“Jesus, Elliot. What the hell? You could have given me a heart attack!” he screams.
“Thought you were a burglar,” I say with a shrug.
“Like you didn’t know it was me. What time is it?” he asks holding his head in his hands.
“Six forty-five. How did you get here?” I ask loudly.
“Jimmy dropped me off. I was going to just crash on the couch but I couldn’t find my keys. Where’s Taylor?” he nearly whispers.
“Inside. Does Becca know where you are?” I question.
“I don’t know. I think my phones dead. Can I come in?” he asks pitifully.
I look at him then and take in his haggard face, his hair is growing out and he looks tired. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen him look like this and it scares me a little.
“Cmon jackass,” I answer wheeling back into the house with him moving slowly behind me before pointing at the kitchen table, “sit, don’t move from that spot.”
I move fast down the hall in search of my phone, knowing there are probably at least a dozen messages from Becca and also wanting to warn Taylor too.
I knock softly on the bathroom door, “hey cupcake, I don’t know if you heard me or not but Ethan is here, he passed out on the deck last night, you’ve been warned to make as much noise as possible,” I chuckle.
“You’re horrible! Is he bad?” she asks.
“I’m going to give him a bag of fluid, and then he should be fine. I’ll see you out there…” I say before pulling her down for a kiss, wishing I could tear the towel from her.
I stop in the closet and pull out my reserve stash of fluids, and an IV kit. It’s not like being a physician doesn’t have its upsides. Gathering everything I need I find him still sitting where I commanded and I slide my phone across to him, “call her.”
He doesn’t even look at me, knowing that I’m not gonna ask twice. I quickly set everything up as he gets his ass chewed for disappearing until he hands me the phone, “she wants to talk to you.”
“Hi momma, I know, I found him this morning. I’m giving him some fluids as soon as we hang up and then I’ll bring him home. I know. If I’d known he was here I’d have called, you know that” I say honestly.
After I let her vent to me for a few minutes I end the call and get started. I’ve done this before for Ethan, many times and he’s always the biggest pansy, flinching as the IV is inserted.
“The more you move the worse it is, how many times do I have to tell you that?” I laugh.
“I don’t like needles El, you know,” he whines.
Taylor picks that moment to enter the kitchen, just as I insert it under his skin, “oh, oh… I didn’t realize you were doing this,” she mumbles turning a little green.
“Sorry Taylor…” Ethan says.
“Hey we’ve all been there but you should have told us you were here instead of creepin around the place. How you feeling!” She nearly screams into his ear.
I’m laughing so hard I can barely tape the IV down at the pain on his face. I push a flush and then connect the bag, “here hang it off the fan.” I point to the ceiling fan and then to the hangar on the bag.
I catch Taylor’s eyes as she pours us coffee when he gets up slowly. She shoots me a look of pity when I join her at the counter, “Becca pissed?” she asks.
“You could say that…” I shrug.
“I can hear you, you know,” Ethan says.
“I know. I’d be pissed at you too. She’s freaking pregnant Ethan, what were you thinking? And why on earth do you look like a bum? What’s going on?” I question moving towards him.
“You mean to tell me you don’t remember our conversation from last night? That’s why… I… you…” he spits and then stumbles to form any sort of sentence.
“I remember it just fine, and I know you didn’t mean it, but you said it, and it’s taking me a while to get over it okay? I’m sorry but that was below the belt Eth, I never thought I’d hear those words come out of your mouth, of all people…” I am yelling now.
I catch movement out of the corner of my eye as Taylor disappears from the kitchen. It takes him a long time to respond and just as I”m about to blast him some more he finally looks up at me.
“I don’t know why I ever said that. I knew it would hurt you, I knew as they words were leaving my mouth that I was doing it to hurt you… I don’t know why I wanted to hurt you, maybe I wanted to take some of that grief away from myself, maybe I just didn’t want to go alone anymore… and here you were finally getting back to being you, and you couldn’t just go with me… it hurt, Elliot. I don’t think you could ever know just how sorry I am, and I know it’s taking you a long time, and that’s okay, but I can’t deal with it…It’s like your accident all over again, disappearing on me,” he says letting it all out.
I don’t know what to say here, honestly a little part of me wants him to be hurt for hurting me, but I get it. Four months ago I wouldn’t have, but today, yeah I see his point. As much as I don’t think I’m ready to let it go, I know that I need to, for both our sakes.
“Look at me, I’m only going to say this once. It’s okay. I know you were hurting and I know I’m an ass at times, so I get it okay? It’s done, in the past Ethan, don’t bring it up anymore. I better never find you crashed out on my porch again either, what if the neighbors saw you and called the cops? Dumbass…” I say smacking him hard on the back, “and cut that damn hair already.”