1Why I Stayed

We woke up early, out of necessity. I needed time to get back to my apartment for a fresh change of clothes before heading to work. We showered at your place to save time –– together, "to save water," you joked, although I knew your ulterior motive and was more than happy to oblige. Our morning began much the way our night had ended. You looked so happy.

You said you'd wait in the SUV while I ran upstairs to my apartment to get changed. I was happy, too; the way a woman feels when she's newly in love. The morning felt brighter, my heart felt lighter. I hadn't felt this way in such a long time. No, that isn't quite true. I've known for a while that I was in love with you – but just wasn't sure that the feeling was reciprocal – until last night. You spoke to me from your heart as we laid in the deliriously-satisfied afterglow of our union. You told me how happy you were because I stayed. You made me promise I'd be your "forever partner." It was the easiest pledge I'd ever made.

A hundred thoughts ran through my mind as I rummaged through my closet, trying to find my black skirt and that royal blue silk blouse that you like so much – I wanted to wear something for you today...how excited I had been five years ago at the prospect of being paired with Major Case's best Detective– I ignored the rumors and the unkind comments said about you – the 'detective' inside me would rather discover things for myself, anyway. At that time, I was the only woman in the Squad and you treated me as an equal, pretending you didn't notice. As usual, you had done your research prior to my arrival and knew that I had earned my way. You respected my ideas and opinions and, although you knew that the investigative talents that I brought to the table were far different than your own, you recognized and appreciated their value nonetheless. You knew how well we complemented each other and confessed that it was the first time in your life that you felt 'balanced' and secure.

One last look in my full-length mirror. "I look pretty darn good for forty – being in love agrees with you, Alex-girl," I assured myself.

I rushed back down the stairs to the SUV — to you — the handsome and brilliant Detective Robert O. Goren. How could I not have stayed.