(Chapter Twenty-two)

"I'm going to let you get some rest." He stood from the bed and walked to the door. "Are we going back, tomorrow?" He looked back.

Dee Dee shrugged as she got up to go to him. "I don't know. I'll decide in the morning."

"Alright. Have a good night."

Dee Dee stood on her toes and wrapped her arms around his neck. As he bent down, she kissed his cheek. "You, too."

The early part of the night proved to be a restless one as Dee Dee tried to fall asleep. She was focused on the discussion she had with Mark. She did trust him and felt that he did want what was best for her, but talking to Rick still didn't make the list of her top ten things to do. (Why does he want me to talk to Rick so badly? Doesn't he know that I'm happy with him...that I'm done with him? Maybe he's right. Maybe if Rick knows that I'm serious about having him out of my life, then talking to him may be worth a shot.)

By 8am, Dee Dee had decided that she would go back to the house, so she called Mark and Anna, they met for breakfast and then headed out. Picking up where they left off in the master bedroom, Mark and Anna packed, while Dee Dee sat on the bed and watched. She was quiet for the most part, occasionally telling them what to do with certain items. She had tried to sort through some of the items, but felt herself feeling more and more angry at Alex for being one of those responsible for taking her baby away from her. She had taken a look at their wedding photo on the dresser, felt her heart drop, then put the picture back, but face-down. She moved to the bed and tried to focus on preparing to enter her baby's bedroom. The thought of having to give his things away shook her to the core.

The ringing of the doorbell was a welcomed distraction. "I'll get it." She excused herself and went downstairs.

"Hello, Dee Dee."

"You've got to be kidding me." Dee Dee scolded herself for not looking through the peephole before opening the door.

"How are..." Recalling past reactions he received from asking how she was, Rick opted to end the question. "Dee Dee, I want...I need to talk to you."

"No. I told you that I'm done with you."

Dee Dee pushed the door to close it, but Rick put his hand up and stopped it.


"You're going to force your way in?!" Dee Dee raised her voice. "I want you to leave! Now!"

Mark and Anna heard the commotion and rushed downstairs.

"Rick?" Mark questioned as he saw who was at the door.

"Mark. Anna." Rick greeted quietly.

Dee Dee looked at Mark, then quickly turned her attention to her mother. "You told him I was here, didn't you?" She stepped away from the door. "You did, didn't you?"

Anna nodded. "Yes, I told him."

"Why?! Why do you keep trying to bring him back into my life?!" Dee Dee questioned her mother. "Can't you understand what he did to me?! What is it going to take for you and for him to get it through your heads?!"

Rick eased into the living room. "Dee Dee, don't be angry at Anna."

Dee Dee spun around to see Rick. "I told you to leave! Get out or I'll call the police!"

Rick stood firm. "If you really wanted to call them, you'd have done it by now."

Mark sat on the sofa and silently agreed that Rick did have a point. He took Dee Dee not calling them as a sign that she may not hate Rick as much as she says.

Dee Dee sat beside Mark. "Rick, you have no idea of what I want, but maybe it's time you learned." She looked at her mother and then back at Rick. "The both of you...sit down." She ordered.

The two sat down, each in a chair opposite the sofa as Dee Dee continued.

"You two want to know every detail of my life and you want try and run it for me, but you're about to learn that it'll never happen." Dee Dee turned to Anna. "Why did you tell him I was here?"

Anna hesitated, but answered just before her daughter could question her again. "I still think that you two need to talk. The way things were left..."

"What about what I think?" Dee Dee asked. "You two just took it upon yourselves to take charge, didn't you?"

"Dee Dee..." Rick began. "I don't want to hurt you, but I need you to understand that I never did anything in the past to intentionally hurt you, either. We need to get things straightened out and then we can both move forward."

"Yeah. Maybe we should do just that."

"I'd like to begin." Rick stated.

"Why not. You and my mom seem to think you're in charge of everything, anyway."

Rick heaved a sigh and prepared himself to speak. "It seems that we've had a terrible misunderstanding, and I'd like to try and clear it up. When you thought I didn't want you to stay with me...when you came back and were pregnant with AJ, you were completely wrong about thinking that, but it's my fault for not coming right out and telling you to stay with me...to forget Alex and become my wife and allow me to become the baby's step-father."

Dee Dee showed no emotion as she held her gaze on Rick while he continued.

"I wanted you to decide for yourself on what you really wanted because you were still married, and as I understood, you at least wanted to talk to Alex about how you two would go about getting a divorce. You needed some time with him to sort things out, whether you'd come back to me or not. I swear to you, Dee Dee, I wanted to beg you not to leave me, but I was afraid of making a decision for you that you should make for yourself."

Dee Dee shook her head. "No. You knew from the start that I didn't want to be with Alex. The night we went to dinner and to the beach, I told you that I had married the wrong man, that I was in love with you, and that I wanted to be with you."

"Yes, but when Alex came to your mother's house to talk to you, you said that maybe you owed it to him to see if he'd keep his word about giving counseling a try."

"No. That's not how it was." Dee Dee heaved a sigh of aggravation. "You didn't let me finish what I was saying at that time. I said I wanted to keep my vows in tact, that I felt Alex may have meant what he'd said. Then I hesitated to prepare to say that I could be wrong...that he could have been setting me up...that nothing would have changed. Before I could say it, you cut me off and told me that you knew I'd give him the chance to prove himself because that's the kind of person I am."

Rick thought of that very conversation and recalled that it was pretty much as she was telling him. "Dee Dee, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to cut you off like that. I guess...I guess I did think I feel that I knew what you'd say. I'm sorry." Rick lowered his head. "I truly didn't mean any harm."

Dee Dee replied. "At the time, it all hit me like a bolt of lightning. I thought of how Alex and I had talked of separating before I was pregnant, then again after, just before I returned to LA. In all the time that we talked of separating or getting counseling, I never grew as close to him as I wanted. I wasn't meant to. When those thoughts flashed through my mind, I knew right then that I wanted to divorce him, stay with you and raise AJ with you. My mind was made up, even though I knew Alex would fight me for the baby in court. I knew you'd be there to help me win against him. I was just that in love with you and I trusted you."

"Dee Dee?" Anna began. "It was all a misunderstanding between you and Rick. Can't you forgive him for that?"

"No." Dee Dee answered sternly. "If he'd have given me a chance, I'd have stayed with him and I would have my baby with me. How can he take my confession of saying I married the wrong man as my truly being happy with Alex? I told him how Alex neglected me and how I felt he'd do the same to the baby. He seemed to feel that I needed to be away from Alex for good, too, but he didn't do anything about it after knowing how I felt. So, no...I can't forgive him. I felt thrown away by him, I went back to Alex because I didn't know what else to do. I was so upset that when I did get back to Alex, I got scared again and at the thought of losing custody of my baby, so I gave up and tried to make the marriage work. Even before AJ was born, Alex threatened to take him if I ever left him, so...I stayed with him and this resulted in my baby being gone...taken from me forever."

Anna sighed in distress. "Sweetheart, I'm so sorry that you've suffered so much. Seeing as how you and Rick have been so close for so many years, I was hoping that you two could talk and that he could help you get through your pain."

"I guess you thought wrong, mom."

Rick was speechless for quite some time as he searched for the correct words to express himself. "Dee Dee, all I can say is that I love you and I'm sorry that I screwed up. Yes, AJ would still be here if we'd have stayed together, but I never, ever wanted anything so horrible to happen to your and your family, no matter what happened between us. I still want to be a part of you life."

Dee Dee linked her arm around Mark's. "I'm doing just fine without you, in case you haven't notice. I have Mark who loves me, and I love him. I know that you and my mom think I'm rushing into a relationship with him, but I'm not. It's all happening just as it should, and there's no pressure from either of us to be together. Mark listens to me, unlike you and my mom. I need someone who knows me well enough to know how to let me be me."

Rick made eye contact with Mark and felt somewhat ashamed of himself for being the one who caused her pain, and knowing that a stranger was able to take his place so easily. "Dee Dee, if you could just please give me a chance to let you know that I only want what's best for you, I'd like to do that."

"No." Dee Dee answered simply.

"So, this is it...the end of what we've shared for over ten years?"


"Okay, maybe that's how you feel, now." Rick's tone changed as he grew angry. "At some point, something's going to make you realize that we've both made a mistake and if we try, we can get through it together. I hope you'll also find the peace of mind you need to get through your tragedy and that you'll realize that I have nothing but love for you. There's something going on with you, Dee Dee. Something's not right and I think you need to talk to someone other than Mark; someone in the professional field."

Dee Dee stood. "You think I'm crazy? You think I have a mental issue?"

"I won't say that you're crazy, but I do feel that there's a psychological issue, Dee Dee. I really do. With all you've been through..."

"I want you to leave, now. Just go and leave me alone, Rick. Please, just leave me alone."

"I'm not giving up on you. I don't care what you say or do, you can't make me give up on you. You need me to help you. You need to remember the good times between us, Dee Dee. You need to remember that you and I were happy and that we would die for one another. You can't throw something like that away. You just can't, and I'll see to it that you don't. I swear it."

Before Dee Dee could reply, Rick rushed out the door, leaving Anna and Mark wondering what was going through Dee Dee's mind as she stood silently in the center of the room, staring at the front door.