Holly had almost forgotten about the stares that came with dating Roger Thorpe. When she entered the dining room at Towers on his arm, a hush immediately fell upon the room. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but there was no mistaking it. Roger seemed oblivious as usual; Holly suspected that he actually enjoyed it.
They were soon joined at their table by Ross and Blake, who also happened to dine at Towers that night. While Holly and Blake where chatting on one side of the table, Ross attempted to strike up a conversation with Roger to appear civil to his father-in-law, at least in front of Blake.
"Holly looks remarkably radiant tonight. I hear that this is your doing." He managed to get the praise out of his mouth, not without some difficulty.
Roger smirked and replied: "Yes, I believe that this is what they call the afterglow."
He had hoped to ruffle Ross's feathers, but he was disappointed to see that his son-in-law did not even raise an eyebrow.
"Is that so? Well, the look suits her, but not as much as it suits your daughter."
Roger's smile was wiped out of his face.
"Low blow, Marler."
"You asked for it."
"Get out of my face."
Ross smiled. "Gladly."
Holly sat back next to Roger while Ross and Blake went back to their table.
"What were you two talking about?" she enquired warily.
Roger put an arm her around her and pulled her close. "Nothing special. Just catching up with good old Ross." He planted a kiss on her forehead. "Shall we order?"
They were halfway through their meal when Holly noticed Matt Reardon making his way across the room, Vanessa on his arms. She looked completely smitten and did not even try to conceal her attraction to the young man anymore. The letter must have done the trick, Holly thought. Their eyes briefly met and Matt nodded and smiled. Roger caught the silent exchange and said: "Looks like I won't have to worry about that boy after all!"
Holly poked him in the ribs with the tip of her fork. "Stop teasing me about him! Can't you see that he is totally in love with Vanessa?"
"One would be blind not to notice," he answered while dodging the fork. "Besides, if I am going to ask you to trust me completely, I guess I'll have to do the same, won't I?"
"I guess you will. It's going to be different this time around," she retorted, squeezing his hand.
Roger cleared his throat, suddenly looking ill-at-ease. Holly knew that look and it did not bode well. It was the look Roger got when he had something unpleasant to tell her.
"As you know, I have been thinking a lot about our relationship over the last few months, about what it would take to make it work. Things like love, trust, faith, honesty…
"I think we finally managed to work these into our relationship," Holly interrupted him, sensing that there was a "but" coming and not sure that she wanted to hear it.
"Yes, I agree. And you have given me so much more that I deserve. There is one more think however that I must ask of you."
Holly felt her chest tighten. She could not for the life of her guess what it was, but from Roger's tone, it must be serious.
"What is it?" she whispered.
"If it's ever to work out between us, you are going to have to leave Springfield, for good."
They barely exchanged a few words on the way to Holly's house. In fact, Holly had stayed mostly silent since Roger's demand, which him uneasy. He forced himself not to press her for her thoughts.
Holly kicked off her shoes as soon as she was in the house. Roger hovered in the doorway, unsure if he was welcomed or not anymore. Feeling that he was not coming in, Holly turned and held out a hand to him.
"Come on, Roger, don't be silly."
Roger smiled and let out a sigh of relief. "Look, I know that what I am asking you is a huge deal, but I feel that if we stay here, our past will always get in the way."
They both sat on the couch and Holly nestled against Roger. He kissed the top of her head.
"But if you are totally averse to the idea of leaving, then we'll just have to find a way to make it work I guess," he continued. "I could never part from you ever again anyway."
Holly straddled him and cradled his face in her hands; she looked at him right in the eyes for what seemed like the longest time. Roger tried to kiss her but she pulled back.
She finally spoke. "You don't have to sell me on the idea of moving to Chicago."
Roger raised an eyebrow in surprise but Holly put a finger on his lips before he could speak.
"I have been thinking about it myself since yesterday. I figured that you would want to stay there, with your new business and all that."
She ran a hand trough his hair and leaned against him until their foreheads touched. "I can't believe that I am going to leave a career behind to follow a man. How old-fashioned is that!"
Roger took her by the shoulders and looked at her face to see if she really was in earnest. When he realized that she was, he got all excited. "But you won't Holly, that's the beauty of it! While I was up in Chicago, I called many of our contacts in the news industry, and many of them are interested in having you working with them."
Holly could not help but smirk. "Don't you think you were getting a bit ahead of yourself?"
Roger smiled with a cocky air. "Well, apparently not, since I was right in thinking that I could get you back."
Holly pretended to punch him in the stomach and he caught her hand in his. She looked at her surroundings and sorrow crossed her eyes.
"Then there is this house…it is very dear to me Roger."
"You don't have to sell it. We can come back as often as we like. Chicago is only a few hours away."
"What about Blake?"
"Well, that's the only bad part. I am pretty sure though that Ross will be thrilled not to have his father-in-law in the picture anymore. So you see, it will be good for their marriage, and therefore, for our daughter's happiness."
Holly laughed. "You thought of everything, haven't you?"
Roger grew serious. "I could think about nothing else for months."
He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips.
She pulled away and got up, taking off her top. She threw it in his lap and walked to her bedroom. She did not have to look back to know that he was right behind her.
The next few weeks went by in a blur. Roger went back to Chicago for work and to prepare for Holly's arrival.
As for Holly, she set on finding her dream job in the city. Fortunately for her, her resume was impressive enough for her to afford to be picky. She finally opted to accept an offer as a producer of a primetime news show on one of the local networks in Chicago. Television was and remained her true love, and she decided that it was high time that she got back to it.
The ink on her new contract was barely dry when she broke the news to Nick at the Journal and offered to sell him her shares. Since she had gotten back with Roger the year before, there had been no love lost between them, and she knew that he would be relieved to finally have the journal to himself.
Telling Blake was another matter and she dreaded the time when she would have to tell her daughter that she was leaving. Roger flew back for the occasion, which took place at Ross's during dinner. They soon found out, however, that Blake could not be more thrilled about them moving in together in Chicago.
"Think of the shopping sprees we'll go on when I visit, Mom!" Blake exclaimed. "Besides, you two need to get a fresh start away from here, don't you agree, Ross?" she added, looking at her fiancé for endorsement.
As Roger had predicted, Ross could not agree more.
Blake enlisted to help Holly pack, and it did not take them long to sort through all the things that Holly wanted to keep or to live behind.
Finally, one day, it was time to leave for good. Holly stood in her living room, surrounded by her bags, and she suddenly felt like crying. Shaking her head, she reminded herself that she was moving on to better things and that there was no need to be nostalgic. This time there was no doubt in her mind that going back to Roger was the right decision.
"A penny for your thoughts," Roger said, standing in the doorway.
Holly jumped, startled by his words. Then she smiled and said: "I was thinking that it was about time you showed up to help me with these bags!"
"And here I am. I am your man!" His fingers closed on the engagement ring which he always carried with him in his pockets. Soon, he thought.
Before closing the door behind her, Holly looked back at her precious little house one more time and said her silent goodbyes.
A couple of hours later, in the plane, she did the same as she gazed down at Springfield, lying below her. The spring had settled for good and the trees were already in bloom. She looked at Roger by her side and thought that it might be a good year after all.
This is it for this story guys, I hope you enjoyed it! For those who did, I am planning on a sequel which I will start uploading very soon. It will involve Roger, Holly, Ross, Blake and a man Springfield has not seen in a long time!