A/N: WARNING: There are basically no details in this one shot. Zil. Nilch. Nada. None. Nil. I felt they were unneeded, and, if they had been included, they simply would have taken away from the story instead of adding to it. Sometimes they are beneficial to a tale; sometimes they are a hinderance. In this case, they would have been the latter. That said, enjoy!

Charlynn

Does He Love You?

"Don't be mad," Marissa prefaced their conversation. Before she even gave her best friend a chance to say anything, not even hello, she warned her and then continued. "I met someone this weekend…a married someone."

"Oh, please," Summer laughed, dismissing the blonde's concerns. "I'd be a hypocrite if I judged you for sleeping with a married man." Rhetorically, she asked, "how many relationships did I break up before I gave up the game and got married myself?"

"Too many to count."

"Exactly. So, tell me about him."

"Well, Friday night I was bored…and kind of lonely sitting up here in my suite by myself, so I decided to go out. I got dressed, put on this slinky little red number, and went downstairs to the bar. He bought me a drink, we danced a little, and then I woke up the next morning with him still inside of me."

"Ugh," the wife bemoaned, "I miss those days, I really do, living in a hotel suite, wearing trashy clothes, and picking up random strangers in a bar. What's happened to me?"

Marissa taunted the woman who had been her best friend since she was six. "You became domesticated."

"Shut up," Summer playfully snapped. "Leave me out of this. I'd rather hear more about this mystery man."

"Okay, so Saturday morning after I woke him up in bed, I woke him up again in the shower before we went out. We spent the whole day together, just wandering around town, window shopping, eating food from a street vendor for lunch, and then talking long after the sun set, cuddled up on the beach together. Speaking of which, I don't care how fun sex on a beach looks on TV, it's just uncomfortable."

"Good to know," the brunette remarked sarcastically. "So, let me guess, the rest of the weekend was basically more of the same – you and someone else's husband together in and out of bed?"

"And everywhere else in between."

"Is he still there," Summer wanted to know, "or did he already have to go back to the wife?"

"Well, let me see if this answers your question," Marissa prompted. "Right about now, he's probably getting yelled at because he never called home once this weekend."

"Ouch, poor guy." Together, silently, they commiserated for him. "So, what are the chances that you and Mr. Unavailable For Keeps Right Now are ever going to see each other again?"

"I don't know," the single woman replied, a note of sadness entering her voice. "He said that he often does business out here and, the next time he's in town, he'll look me up. Is it wrong that I hope often means every weekend?"

"Wait a second," Summer ordered her. "Is this just because the sex was that good, or do you think you could really have feelings for this guy?"

"What if I said I already do?"

"Then I'd say you're fucked," the married one of the two best friends answered bluntly. "If this guy willingly got married once, he's obviously into the whole idea of commitment and family, and you are not that kind of woman. Things would never work between you."

Marissa sighed. "Maybe I am that kind of woman, but I've been hanging around you for too long, taking your advice? Maybe it just took me meeting the right guy to want to even think about a house with a white picket fence, a wedding ring, a kid or two, and matching mini-vans."

"You've only known him for a weekend."

"But it feels as if I've known him my whole life," the blonde argued, "and, before you say anything, I know how trite that sounds, but I don't care. We talked about everything and anything, we're both from broken families, we have similar ideals, and we have this amazing, undeniable chemistry. I've been with a lot of guys over the years…"

"Now that is an understatement," Summer interrupted.

However, the single woman continued undaunted. "…but nothing has ever felt like this before. It's real, what's happening between me and this guy, and it's scary, and it's amazing, but, most importantly, it's wonderful, and it's worth actually giving it a try."

"Then you're going to have to show him that," the brunette directed. "Give up the hotel suite and find yourself a real home. It's time to quit your carefree lifestyle, it's time to give up staying out every night until four a.m., and it's time to get a real job. Working in publicity and being a glorified party girl is not going to cut it. If you want to snag this guy away from his wife, you have to beat her at her own game. You have to be more family oriented than she is, more communicative, a better cook, a better spouse without the marriage license. However, do not lose your edge in bed, because, obviously, good sex was what he was missing to seek you out in the first place."

"I can do those things; I can do this."

"However, before you run off and start browsing on the Tiffany's website, I want you to put aside your own feelings and think about his for a second. Could he really love you or are you just a fling for him," Summer queried, her questions meant to serve as a warning. "Could he love you as much as you seem to think you could love him?"

Without hesitation, Marissa replied, "he could."

And, if she had her way, he would.

"So, how is operation 'steal a husband' going," Marissa heard her best friend ask over the phone six months later.

"Well, maybe this will give you a clue: I was late filing my taxes. I didn't realize it was April 15th already; hell," the blonde laughed happily at her own expense, "I didn't even realize it was spring."

"Ugh, I think I might throw up."

"It's wonderful, Sum. I'm officially in love for the very first…and last time."

"You seem pretty sure of this guy," the married best friend realized. "Has he given you any indication that he's just as in love with you as you are him?"

"He told me that he loves me."

She could practically hear the brunette shake her head in disappointment. Words are cheap, Coop. Has he done anything to prove what he says is sincere?"

"Maybe," Marissa hedged, unable to keep the smile out of her voice, "if you count telling his wife that he wants a divorce so he can move out here and be with me permanently."

"Holy shit! He did that?"

"Well, not yet, but he's going to."

Summer groaned. "And you trust that; you trust his word? We are talking about a man who is currently cheating on his wife by sleeping with you."

"If I didn't trust him, I couldn't love him."

"You are so damn naïve sometimes," the married woman snapped. "Men will tell you anything to get into your pants, and, if you would take off your rose tinted glasses for a minute, you would be able to see that your Prince Charming is still technically a frog. It's been half a year since this little fling of yours started, and, sure I was the one who gave you the advice on how to catch him, but I always figured you'd get bored with his procrastination and go out and find a guy who really is available. At this point, I'm starting to think that Mr. Already Taken is feeding you a line."

"Would he send me letters…letters, Sum, if he wasn't serious about me? He treats me like gold, respects me, and, I don't care what you say, he's sincere when he tells me that he wants to be with me, when he promises that we are going to be together."

"Alright, fine, if you're happy, then I'm happy for you, and, if you believe him, then I believe him, too," the brunette soothed her best friend. "Now, when am I going to get to meet this guy?"

"I'm pregnant."

"Oh, Sum, I'm so sorry," Marissa sympathized with her best friend. "I know this was the last thing you ever wanted."

"That's what I thought, too," the brunette agreed, her voice sounding surprisingly cheerful, "but then I was sitting in that ridiculously uncomfortable chair, wearing one of those paper thin gowns, and I looked over at the monitor on the ultrasound machine, saw my baby, and I instantly fell in love with it. I want this child; I want a dozen!"

"You're out of your mind. Twelve kids?"

"Okay," the married woman admitted, "I might be getting a little carried away, but I'm so happy, Coop."

"Well, then I'm happy for you." Gushing, the blonde continued, "and this is going to be so much fun. You have to let me throw your shower. I'll fly out for a whole weekend, and we'll live it up one more time like we used to…just with no alcohol."

"Agreed."

"And then when the baby's born, I'll come out and stay with you. I'll take care of the baby when you're asleep and make sure that that husband of yours is treating you like a princess."

"Make that a queen," her best friend bargained, "and you have yourself a deal. Now all we need is to get your married guy divorced and then married again, and it can be your turn to have a baby. I'll be able to pass down all my motherly advice to you."

"Oh my god, Sum, those are words I never thought I'd ever hear from your mouth."

"I know," the brunette agreed. "It's insane, isn't it?"

"It is, but it's also wonderful. Look at how you've taken care of me for all these years, helping me find my way through the crazy singles scene and into a committed relationship. You're going to be great mommy."

Taking a deep, bracing breath, Summer said, "I hope so. But what about you? Have there been any new developments?"

"He talked to his boss, and they're working on the transfer."

"What about his wife?"

"When I talked to him last night on the phone, he said that he's going to tell her before he comes out at the end of the month, so things are definitely moving forward," Marissa stated. "before you know it, we're going to be just as miserable together as you and your husband are. We'll have our suburban home, our little antiques shop that we run together, and we'll be making a family together."

"It's strange isn't it, how different our lives turned out than we had planned?"

"It is," the blonde agreed with her best friend. "You always said you could never be tied down to just one man, that the urge to pledge monogamy to one person was a flaw in most women that you planned to never have, and, at this point in my life, I thought I'd already be well on my way to being a grandmother. You do know how young most of the women in my family are when they have children."

"But, instead," Summer finished the thought, "I'm the one who's married with a baby on the way, and you're still out there trying to snag your Mr. Perfect."

"Trying being the operative word."

"It'll happen," the brunette stated confidently. "For some reason, I suddenly think this guy is going to come through on all those promises he's made to you. Blame it on the hormones."

"And what about all those other times in the past you told me that?"

"I was lying then," Summer dismissed with a chuckle, "but this time I'm not. This time I'm serious. Mark my words. I'm going to be the matron of honor confused for the mammoth at your wedding in a few months' time."

If only Marissa had as much faith in her relationship with the married man as her best friend did. After a year, his promises were starting to ring a little false; her hope was starting to fade, but she loved him, and, until he gave her reason to think he was going to leave her, she wouldn't leave him.

You share a place by the park and run a shop for antiques downtown
And he loves you, yeah he loves you, and the two of you will soon become three
And he loves you, even though you used to say you were flawed if you weren't free

It was one o'clock in the morning the next day when the phone woke Marissa from a deep sleep. An hour before she had hung up after talking to her Mr. Already Taken as Summer called him. He had called to tell her that everything was ready. His transfer had been granted, and, after he spoke to his wife in the morning, he would be joining her permanently out in California the next evening. Her best friend's hormones had been spot on accurate.

"I only married him because I thought it was my last chance," Summer sobbed into the phone as soon as the blonde picked it up. "I didn't love him, I didn't even particularly like him, but he was successful, he was good looking, and he treated me with respect."

"Sweetie, I already know this. Why is this bothering you now? Are you feeling guilty? Is it the baby?"

However, her best friend ignored her questions and continued to ramble on brokenly, her sniffles and hiccups and tears making her hard to comprehend. "But slowly, as I got to know him better, I realized just how lucky I was. He made me laugh, he made me feel beautiful, and he talked to me, not as some dumb ditz who had access to her rich Daddy's bank account but as a companion, as a friend, as an equal. And I guess I started to love him."

"There's nothing wrong with loving your husband, Sum," Marissa attempted to comfort the forlorn woman. "In fact, I think it's recommended."

"And we have our ridiculously cliché McMansion, our matching hybrid SUV's, our dusty old antique shop, and, I never told you this because I was embarrassed, but we even have pet goldfish. We like to think that they're married and living happily ever after in their underwater castle…just like we are."

"Okay, so that's a little corny," the blonde teased her best friend, "but everyone's entitled to little bit of banality. I still love you, and I promise to not tell anyone else."

"But now we're having a baby, a perfect, innocent baby who is going to be a combination of the two of us, my fashion sense and his athletic ability, my great skin and his intelligence, my way with words and his capacity to love, and I realize that not only do I love my husband and my child, but I'm in love with them." The married woman paused long enough to inhale quickly. "Do you know what that means to me?"

"I imagine it means everything."

"It does, but now my whole world is falling apart."

Confused, Marissa asked, "what do you mean?"

"He's distant."

"I'm sure he's just busy with work, distracted. He might even be planning some big surprise for you. Isn't your fifth anniversary coming up next month?"

"And he's always going on business trips."

"His job is important to him; his job is just one of the things you love about him."

"And he's been so secretive lately."

"Oh, then he's definitely planning something for you. I bet it's a party."

Summer let silence envelope them over the telephone line before whispering, "he's writing letters." The single woman did not say a word. "He's always on his computer, chatting to a friend." Still, Marissa said nothing. "And then I heard him earlier tonight talking to her, telling her that he loves her, that he's leaving me, and that he's going out to California to be with her."

"Oh my god," the blonde gasped, realization setting in.

"My husband is leaving me for my best friend."

Closing her eyes, Marissa willed her emotions away. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves," she advised. "You know me, I could never be happy if I'm tied down to another person. To me, freedom is essential. Your husband will never leave you. He loves you and your baby too much to do something like that. Trust me," she pleaded with her best friend one last time, "Ryan will never leave you…for me."

With that, she hung up the phone, opened her eyes, and cried.

But now you love him, and your baby
At last you are complete
But he's distant and you found him on the phone pleading saying
'baby I love you and I'll leave her and I'm comin' out to California'

Let's not forget ourselves good friend
I am flawed if I'm not free
and your husband will never leave you, he will never leave you for me