"Hey Ruthie," Martin smiles slightly as he knocks on my open door. I look up and smile back.
"Hey yourself," I say. "I didn't know you were coming," I add as an afterthought. I didn't know. Last time I saw Martin was three weeks ago when he left Glenoak to go take care of his love child.
"Just for the weekend," he tells me. He sounds sad, but I don't know if it's because of how soon he's leaving or because he's here in the first place.
"Oh. What for?" I wonder why he's here with me instead of at his own house with his dad or at the Promenade with Mac.
"Just needed a break." He pauses. "I've really missed you these past few weeks, Ruthie."
"I've missed you, too," I admit. "A lot."
"Can we talk?" He asks as he sits on my bed with me. He leans back and picks up my stuffed monkey.
"What's going on?" I ask him, concerned. He didn't sound too well the couple of times we talked on the phone, but looking at him now he just seems… broken.
"This is way more than I bargained for, Ruthie…" He sighs. I can't help but selfishly notice the way my heart skips a beat when he says my name like that. I half smile at him sadly, telling him I understand. That I'm sorry there's nothing I can do to make it easier for him. He surprises me by taking my hand and holding it in his own.
"Martin…" I sigh, pulling my hand away. I'm still getting over the last time he broke my heart.
"Sorry," he says, pulling his hands back close to his body.
"I'm sorry. It's just…"
"I understand," he interrupts. I know he does. Which doesn't exactly make any of this easier.
"Do you think… if none of this happened…" I start, wondering if I should finish. Wondering if I really want to know the answer to the question I'm about to ask him. "That you and I… could have, or would have…"
"I don't know," he answers honestly. I nod. I knew I couldn't expect any more than that. I mean he had another girlfriend at the time. It's not like he left me for Sandy and the baby… he just left for them. "Sometimes I think about it," he adds.
"You do?" This surprises me.
"Yeah. I'm really scared, Ruthie," he closes his eyes and rubs them with closed fists, like a small child.
"I never had a father around when I was growing up. How am I supposed to know what to do?"
"I don't know," I say truthfully. "I think the best thing you can do is just… love him."
"You think just loving someone can be enough?"
"I think I'm in love with you." The words are already out before I realized what I've said. It's true but I really did not mean for it to come out like that. It just… slipped.
"Nevermind. Just forget it. I shouldn't have said anything."
"But you did. You said it."
"It's not like you didn't know."
"I knew you had a crush on me…"
"Right. A crush. That's all it is. Was. That's all it was." Fuck my life.
"Answer the question, Ruthie."
"Do you think just loving someone can be enough?" I know he's no longer talking about him and his son. I pause for a long moment before answering.
"No. I don't. Just loving someone is not always enough." I feel the tears stinging my eyes before I blink and let them fall. He sits up and wipes my tears away with his sleeve.
"I'm really sorry, Ruthie. I wish I could change things, but I can't." Silence. "God it would just be so easy if you and I had gotten together when you first wanted to. I would have never slept with Sandy and none of this would have ever happened. And I wouldn't be living four hours away, keeping myself up at night wondering what the fuck I was thinking."
"Yeah, except that's not what you wanted. And if none of this happened then you sure as hell wouldn't be thinking about me like that."
"It's not that it never crossed my mind."
"I'm not." I'm sorry, what? "It's just…" Oh. I should have known there would be a 'but'.
"It's just that there was nothing there for you. I get it."
"I wish there was."