Thanks for the great reviews, I'm glad people are reading this.
Madison gazed at their new home, temporarily ignoring the few boxes that still littered the floor. They'd moved everything in, finally. It hadn't taken a very long time, it'd only felt like an eternity of lifting and carrying. Shaun had helped eagerly at first, but even he'd gotten bored and whiny. He'd left with Grace to grab dinner and maybe a movie. Ethan had flopped on the couch, staring vacantly at the television they hadn't plugged in yet.
She moved tiredly to the new recliner in the living room, feeling her sore muscles protesting every step. Just getting off of her feet felt wonderful. She tucked her feet under her, relaxing. The house was blessedly quiet for the first time in hours and she came very close to dozing off.
It was Ethan that kept her awake. Just as she was about to fall asleep, he got up and put on his shoes. He hadn't said anything, and he had a dazed, nearly vacant look on his face. It seemed like he wasn't there all the way.
"Ethan?" Madison called out, concerned. He didn't answer, which worried her even more. While they'd had their arguments, even the rare screaming fight, he never gave her the cold shoulder. After a few minutes, it dawned on her that Ethan may be in one of his black outs. It was something they'd talked about, but she hadn't seen him have one before. She thrust her feet into her shoes, grabbing their coats as she followed him out into the cold winter night.
Her shoes crunched in the fresh snow as she followed her boyfriend. He never once turned around, completely oblivious to the outside world around him. Luckily for them, traffic was light, no doubt due to the bitter cold. He just kept walking for several miles, as Madison followed him.
When Ethan finally slowed down, she suddenly realized where they were headed. The answer was so clear, so obvious. She was mentally kicking herself for not seeing it sooner. They walked through the gate to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Jason had been buried. She watched as he stopped at his son's grave, dropping to his knees not noticing the snow. She saw her lover, crying unintelligible words, her heart aching as she watched him grieve. She was teary-eyed herself, as she caught a few of his words.
"Jason . . . son . . . sorry." Madison completely lost all track of time, frozen as she watched. It hurt to see it, but she couldn't look away. She stood there, nearly in a trance; she had no idea for how long. Her phone rang, startling her out of her reverie. She just about dropped her phone as she jumped. It was Grace, wondering why they weren't at home. Madison gave her a quick recap, keeping her eyes on Ethan constantly. Grace was stunned, and agreed to keep Shaun for a while longer.
A short time after Grace's call, Ethan stood up slowly. He made his way, Madison still following, until he reached Caranaby Corner North. When he reached that intersection, he came to an abrupt halt. He shook his head, the blank stare leaving his eyes. She ran to him, still holding his coat. He looked disoriented and a bit disappointed as well.
"Ethan!" He turned, stunned to face her. He was clearly puzzled at her appearance. He shivered, realizing just how cold it was since he didn't have his coat. Madison draped it over him gently as he questioned her.
"Mad? How did you get here?" She smiled while he slipped his arms into the sleeves of his coat.
"I followed you, on foot." She put her arm around him, "Let's go home, Ethan. I'll explain everything." They had no secrets anymore. Her not telling him about being a journalist had nearly ruined their relationship before it'd started. They began the long walk to the house, hand in hand.
Ethan looked at his watch, realizing for the first time since he'd blacked out. Shaun should've been dropped off by now.
"Shit!" He got ready to start running all the way home. Madison grabbed his arm quickly, before he could leave her in the dust.
"He's okay, Ethan. Grace called a little while ago. Shaun's still with her and she'll drop him off when we're ready." Ethan released the breath he'd been holding. Shaun was safe. He hadn't been taken. No one had kidnapped his son.
"Where was I? What did I do, Madison?" Traces of alarm flickered in his eyes, as he noticed the tear tracks on her face for the first time. "Did I . . . hurt you?" She was quick to dissuade him, shaking her head from side to side vigorously.
"No, Ethan, you didn't do anything wrong." She glanced ahead, seeing the coffee shop on the corner. It was open, but nearly empty. "Let's talk inside, where it's warmer." Ethan nodded, not totally reassured. They quickly made their way inside the building, basking in the sudden warmth. The barista, a friendly redhead named Corky, served them quickly. It was obvious she'd been bored silly, and was glad for a couple of customers. In a short while, they were sipping hot coffee, sitting comfortably. They were starting to thaw out, after several hours in the cold. After a few minutes, Madison broke the silence.
"Ethan, I followed you tonight when you left the house. You didn't notice me at all. I saw you go to the cemetery, to Jason's grave." She paused, trying to find the right words, if there were any, to use. "You were there, on your knees, for hours. You didn't feel the cold, at all, it seemed. I've never seen anything like it." She held his hand, touching her face with the other one. He looked so relieved at her words, but one thing still made him wonder.
"But why were you crying, Mad?" Madison rarely, if ever, cried. She was tough, not only physically but emotionally as well. In fact, Ethan wasn't exactly sure if or when he'd last seen Madison cry. He was touched, that she cared that deeply for him. He'd already known that this wasn't a fly by night relationship. But this was much more than he expected. It was more than he'd even dreamed he deserved. He squeezed her hand gently as he turned to her and smiled.
"Thank you." Just two simple words, but they came straight from the heart. His tone and expression spoke volumes. Madison understood what he wasn't saying and she leaned her head against his shoulder, coffee and the time forgotten. Neither of them wanted to break the comfortable silence, it was the clock chiming the hour that finally got their attention. They simultaneously turned to see the time; it was well past time to go home. With a quick glance, they split up, Ethan to pay, and Madison to call for a cab.
A little while later, they were back home. Grace had dropped off Shaun, not only to let him join Ethan and Madison for their first night in the new house. She also need some time to process all that Madison had told her. She'd never realized where her ex-husband had been going during his blackouts. It was quite a bit to think through.
Ethan got to work on their electronics setup, plugging in the television and DVD player. He'd enlisted Shaun's help, to distract his son from the ice cream Madison was scooping into bowls. When the guys had finished, she could hear them horsing around in the living room. Shaun was giggling at whatever Ethan was doing. She peeked around the corner, seeing her lover carrying his son on his shoulders. She couldn't help smiling at the sight.
"Hey, are there any chocolate ice cream eaters around? I seem to have scooped out way too much . . ." Her words trailed off as she moved quickly to avoid being trampled. She followed her guys into the kitchen, to grab her bowl as her guys went into the living room.
"Come on, Mad, the movie's ready." She rolled her eyes in mock exasperation. She shook her head, joining them on the couch. Ethan pressed play, and they all settled in, relaxing together as the cartoon pirates came on the screen.
To Be Continued.