Sitting here like this, finally in his arms, gazing up at the stars in the black night sky, seemed like an impossible dream come true. It seemed as impossible as reaching for one of these stars and holding it in her hand. He didn't seem to feel that way. Didn't seem to think it all that amazing. He was happy, and enjoying himself, and he loved her that was something she was certain of. She just couldn't will herself to believe it was real. He seemed to have no trouble. Things came and went so easy for him. Didn't he ever stop to look back?
She couldn't shake that feeling that once again something would come along and shatter this dream, that she would wake up, like she had many mornings the last few months, and realise she was alone. Even now resting in his arms on Killarney's vast fields she could close her eyes and remember those lonely days, that hateful stare in his eyes, that feeling that she had lost him, and even now that cut her deeply. She pressed herself closer to him and felt his arms pull tightly around her.
"Cold?" he asked her.
"Yes." She answered although she was not. She wanted only him to hold her tightly.
"Let's go inside." He said quickly. Once again he had taken it all wrong, and she cursed him for having to speak, to interrupt her thoughts. He stood and pulled her to her feet, then pulled her close and kissed her, and her childish thoughts vanished in his embrace. Then he took her hand, and side by side they headed back to the house that would be their home, Killarney. This was her dream, finally come true. She was finally living her dream and all the bitterness and doubts melted away.
Only when they reached the house and he let go of her hand to open the door, did those doubts creep in. Suddenly, after months apart from him, she seemed unable to cope with even a few minutes without some part of her touching some part of him. Something wasn't right. She couldn't let herself just enjoy it. She was almost looking for reasons to be unhappy. It was all she had ever known in her life. Unhappiness, disappointment. Betrayal. She couldn't let herself finally believe she had found something that would last, someone who truly loved her. She never believed it would happen for her.
The house felt cold and uninviting. It wasn't her home. It was his, and his brothers, and his sisters. Drovers was her home, and she found herself longing for the familiar warmth of the place. But Killarney was his home. And she was his wife, she reminded herself. She had to remind herself. He had been gone so long in Argentina she had to remind herself every morning she was indeed married as she woke up cold and alone. Now he was here, and that was all that mattered. She would grow used to the house. She would live with him anywhere. But still something wasn't right. She couldn't figure out what it was.
There were so many things that never made sense, the way he looked at her at his first wedding, all the things that had gone unresolved, the times he had looked at her like he hated her, and treated her like shit. And she had let herself forget all of that for him, just to live this dream.
But tonight seemed different, not like a fairy tale at all. Standing in front of the celebrant and all their family and friends on the wedding day months ago had been like a fairy tale, like something not real, and it was only now doubts started to set in.
It happened so quickly the engagement, the wedding. She never really knew where she stood with him. Sometimes he was so cold, sometimes they fought, sometimes she would close her eyes in those lonely nights and remember his cold eyes and his hateful tone throwing her off Killarney. But all of that she had put aside.
Sending her back home in the middle of their honeymoon had never left her thoughts though. What was so important about Nick and Tess that it led him to send her home all alone? What was so important about his business that he couldn't come home when Rose was in hospital? Or when Grace was trying to turn Drovers into a weed farm?
She began to realise that once again, she was not worth much to him. She never had been. Never been worth to him what he was worth to her. Never would be. But it seemed enough at the time, when they were married, it seemed enough that for one moment he stood looking at her as if she was the most precious thing on earth. But that one perfect moment had led to these months of solitude and pain. In the end he always brought her pain. It never seemed to bother him the distress he had caused her, or perhaps he didn't notice.
And now he was back. He was happy to see her. But he wasn't sorry for all that time apart. He never even explained to her what was so important about sending her home so he could stay on in Argentina. Surely he wasn't keeping something from her. Not him, he was so passionate about truth. He just didn't care about her. That must be it.
And although she longed for nothing more than to be with him this night, she couldn't allow herself to walk down that path of being used and discarded by him whenever he felt like it. Perhaps if he had been around these last months he would have been able to soothe her doubts and insecurities. But he hadn't. And her self respect and survival instincts had plenty of time to kick it. She had to get out of this so called marriage. Now.
He took her hand again, pulling her close
She resisted him. "I can't be with you." She told him. "I can't be with you anymore. This isn't going to work."
"Why not?" He asked in a weary but confused voice.
"Because you're everything to me." She answered, realising she was making no sense to him.
"You're everything to me too." He answered smiling "And I've missed you."
"No that's not true." She insisted. If I was everything to you why did you send me home from our honeymoon with no explanation? If you missed me why did you take months to come home to me? If I am everything to you how can you hurt me so much? How can you survive so well without me? She thought to herself "You don't even know that 'everything' means." She accused him bitterly.
"I'm sorry." He answered. Sincerely. But still confused. "I'm sorry I've been gone so long, but I'm here now."
"I don't want your apology. I don't want it now. Not because it's what you think I want you to say." She told him.
"Sorry." he mumbled again, and she took off her wedding ring and threw it at him.
"You don't even know what you're sorry for." She told him, angry more at herself for getting into this mess than angry at him. It wasn't his fault he didn't really love her. It was her fault for getting drawn into this marriage, for believing his fake promises, for believing just for that moment that he truly loved and cherished her as she did him. As she had always loved and cherished him.
"I'm sorry you're upset, I'm Sorry you're throwing things at me. We should be celebrating." He stood a bit confused, looking down to the ring at his feet and wondering what to say. He took a breath and in a serious tone began "Time is so precious. Let's not waste it."
She laughed then. But it was a bitter laugh. "Time is so precious?" She mocked him. "Time didn't seem very important to you when you left me here alone for all those months." Even to herself she sounded like a petty child, but she had to say it to him, to somehow let him know how much that had hurt her, how much she had missed him.
"I'm sorry." He said, sincerely this time. "I can't change that. But I'm here now. Don't be like this."
"Look me in the eye and tell me you'll never leave me again." She realised it was futile to make him promise. She meant little to him, and his promises meant even less.
He wouldn't answer her demand "Don't be like this, I've waited so long to be with you….
"You've waited so long?" She asked him incredulously, realising that his world revolved entirely around him and there was no place for her in it.
"I'm sorry." He apologised again. "Can't you forgive me?" He bent down to pick the ring up and held it out to her like a peace offering.
She didn't take it from his hand. She wouldn't be bought with jewellery. "Yes I can forgive you, that's the problem, each and every time I can forgive you. Forgive you and love you. No matter what. And you let me down over and over again."
"We're married now. Things are different. I know I was a jerk in the past." It was the first time he had even touched on the subject of their relationship in the past, all the mistakes he made, all the times he had hurt her.
"We were married when you cut our honey moon short and sent me home alone." She reminded him.
"There was a reason…." He began
But she wouldn't let him speak.
"We were married when you stayed behind for months in Argentina with your brother."
He sat silently not sure what to say. He hadn't wanted to explain things to her. Not yet. But it seemed the only way to make her see that he did love her. She gave him no chance to speak though as once she started she could not stop. And he let her, figuring it would do her good to get it off her chest.
"You are everything to me. Truly everything. And I can't go through this again. I can't live like this. I can't give myself to you and trust you, to have you treat me like this. When you're gone there is nothing left of me, I can't be like this." Silently she scolded herself for letting another human being become so important to her when for so long she had been on her own.
He looked into her eyes, seeing the fear, the pain. He hadn't realised how insecure she still was. Over these last months in Argentina he only pictured her as she was on the wedding day, so happy, so complete, so strong, so beautiful. That was the woman he married, that was his wife. He didn't like to think of her any other way. Didn't like to think he still had so much power to hurt her.
He realised at that moment, when she looked away from his gaze trying not to cry, that he could never tell her what had happened in Argentina. He could not put her through that. It was the reason he sent her home alone in the first place.
She looked back to him, looking for something, he wasn't sure what.
"This is it. Tell me now, is this going to work? Do you really want this? Do you want me?" Can I trust you with my heart, she silently added.
As she looked to him for answers, for reassurance, there was only one thing he could answer.
"No." He answered.
She looked shocked. He wasn't sure why. She has asked. She was the one standing there accusing him of not caring. But his answer shocked her. He hated hurting her. Hated lying to her. But it would spare her more pain in the end.
She stood still not believing she had heard it. He felt he needed to make it clear. "No. this aint gonna work. I don't want this. I don't want you." But deep in his heart he was crying out 'of course I want you, I've always wanted you.'
He felt sure she would know he was lying. He wondered how he would convince her. But apparently he had, as she turned her back and walked out into the night. He watched her out the window as she walked down the drive. She never once looked back. He wanted her too. Wanted to see her face one last time. But it was better this way. He had set her free. And he stood leaning against the window, tears streaming down his face, telling himself it was so much better this way.
He had undergone months of treatment for his illness while in Argentina. It was like torture, but thinking of her got him through it. And then he received the news that the treatment wasn't working as well as they had hoped. His chance of survival was slim to none. And he had come home to be with her, cursing himself for wasting so much time away. He didn't know how to tell her that he was sick, that he was dying. He didn't want her around to see him like that, although he longed for her presence each and every minute he was gone.
And seeing her today, seeing how much he had hurt her already, he couldn't put her through losing him like that. Better to set her free now. She would be fine, she had Drovers, and Rose, and her friends. She had spent these months without him and survived, she would be fine.
And with that thought he turned to his suitcases he hadn't even had time to unpack, and pulled them back into the car. He would go back to Argentina, it would be best for everyone. He made the decision, but he sat for hours in the car that night, unable to walk away as easily as she had. And he held tight to the ring she had thrown back in his face, unable to let it go, unable to let her go. All these months he had dreamed of holding her again. It was a longing so deep he almost drove down the road to find her, to pick her up in his arms and shout out that he loved her, to look her in the eyes and promise her he would never leave her, never hurt her.
But he would leave her. Soon. And he could not make that promise. Finally he placed the ring in his shirt pocket, close to his heart, and began his journey towards the air port.