Satisfying meal in your stomach, low glow of the lights setting the mood, you think about sleeping with Ted. You remember the softness of his fingers as they explored your body - each time as if discovering new and exciting territory, making you feel special, wanted.

He was the first to make you feel that way. Sometimes, you worry he might be the last. That he was It, and there's no going back. You've wondered if the reason you struggle and work so damn hard to keep the emotions at bay is that you're afraid if you let someone see you - the real you, without reserve, without inhibition, without the fa├žade - that he will walk away or make you into something you are not.

Daddy issues, you think bitterly, but you push it away because that's what you're good at, and you are far too tired to hate your father anymore tonight.

So you laugh and you eat and you rehash the past with the man you took a chance on, and you want him. Not just for the hour or the night but for that strange cosmic forever that you don't really believe it. He gets down on one knee and for a moment you forget it isn't real; and to your surprise, you find you don't hate it. To your astonishment, you find you could do it: the kids, the white picket fence, the front porch, if it meant coming home and waking up to Ted every day.

You could do it, you think. You could gamble your life on him.

You could be happy.

But you won't. You can't. You've gone down that road, and he's gone down that road, and it does not end well. It ends in tears and aching and missing a limb, and goddammit, it hurts. You couldn't watch him walk away again; you will never be that strong.

So you watch Ted, and you want him, and maybe, just maybe, that will be enough.