Epilogue

Laura stood in the kitchen with her back tucked into the corner created by two of the counters meeting, nursing a scotch and water over ice. She heard when the front door closed and Remington called out to her. She stayed where she was, sipping her drink, never calling out to him, knowing he would find her eventually. Sure enough, he poked his head into the kitchen, his eyebrow quirking upwards at seeing the drink in her hand. He could count on one hand the number of times she had imbibed without his company.

"There you are, love. Didn't you hear me calling for you?" he smiled as he leaned down to kiss her hello, only to find himself planting his lips in her hair as she turned her head to avoid him.

Her intentional evasion of his kiss left him flummoxed and, he found, surprisingly irritated. He had thought the days of her intentionally disengaging from him for some imagined – alright, occasionally real – misstep were in the past. He took two steps back from her and leaned casually against the island, shoving his hands in his pockets. His sharp eyes perused her face and body, summing up what he read there. He sighed briefly when he found her skin pinked, her shoulders taunt and her eyes avoiding his own – all sure signs that she was about to blow. He didn't have long to wait, as she slammed her glass of scotch on the counter then turned to stalk indignantly from the kitchen. He followed, grabbing her upper arm just as they entered the living room. She turned to face him, and he saw the stark hurt in her eyes before she covered it an instant later with a blank look, shutting him out even as he reeled in confusion.

"Laura, what's going on? What's this all about?" He watched as her walls went up even further and her chin tipped upwards in that way she had when she was determined to hide from him. Her eyes held with his, and seeing the confusion reflected in their blue depths, her shoulders slumped before she looked away with a small shake of her head.

"Isn't that the question I should be asking you?" she asked, suddenly weary. She easily shook her arm away from his grip, and walked several steps away before wrapping her arms around herself, seeking self-comfort. His heart ached at the sight and the words that followed. "You come home in the middle of the night, then sit out here," she tilted her head towards the couch, "thinking I don't know you're home. Then last night when you finally came to bed, you could barely touch me. You've been shutting me out for days…" her voice trailed off.

"Laura…" It was the only word he could manage before he stopped speaking, swiping his hand across his face and averting his eyes from her as the now all too familiar feelings of guilt and desolation assailed him. He could only watch as she picked several pieces of paper up off of the coffee table before she returned to him, handing them to him.

"And then there's these…"

Remington looked down at the papers she handed him. Photographs. He skimmed through them quickly, appalled by what he saw.

Him dancing with Astrid at White Oak Country Club.

Him kissing Astrid in front of her home.

Astrid, her hands roaming across his bottom, her lips firmly attached to his neck.

His hands tremored slightly at the sight of his guilt memorialized in black and white, right there in front of him. He lifted sad, guilt ridden eyes to her.

"Laura…" The single word held a plea for understanding. With a shake of her head, she sank, exhausted, down onto the couch behind her. She looked up at him, her walls shattered, her brown eyes reflecting a hurt so deep that it nearly staggered him.

"I think we need to talk, Remington."

(TBC)