Gwen/Noah fic with a bit of Gwen/Ethan along the way.
Characters aren't mine, of course, but I hope you enjoy all the same! Title and summary are from the Matchbox 20 song by the same name.
Guilt-ridden, I snuck through the front door of my home. Glancing in every which way, I silently tiptoed up the stairs, hoping to slip into the shower unnoticed.
"Good morning, dear."
I always did have rotten luck.
"Morning, Ethan," I greeted my husband, as he stepped out of our bedroom dressed in his typical Armani suit.
"Coming back from a run?" he asked, motioning towards my sweats.
I nodded, afraid that my lips would betray me. I had gone for a lot of runs lately – Ethan just didn't know where most of them had ended up.
Briskly, he pressed his lips to my cheek. "I'm leaving for that trip to Japan in a few hours. I'll call you tonight," he promised.
I nodded, working to keep the smile off of my face. Unable to resist any longer, I hugged him, finally allowing my face to break out in a wide grin.
I walked him out to the limo and watched him leave, waving as a good wife should. The moment that he was out of sight, I snatched my cell phone and dialed the first number on my speed dial.
"Hello, Noah? What are you doing tonight?"
It hadn't always been like this. I loved him once, but our love has long since faded into oblivion.
Five years ago, we had been so in love and engaged to be married. Then that manipulative bitch came along and stole him out from under me. Perhaps that's when everything changed.
From there on out, what I had with Ethan changed from a loving relationship to a competition, I suppose. It was me against the little Teresita, fighting for Ethan's love.
And there was no way in hell that I was going to let that gold-digging slut win.
Forgive me if I sound bitter, but, honestly, can you blame me? This child befriended me and used my friendship to steal the one thing that I loved most in the world – Ethan.
In the end, she lied to him too many times, and there was nothing more that she could say to make Ethan hers again.
I had won.
And winning is the very thing that has put me in the position I am now – in love with one man, but married to another.
I admit it – I'm having an affair. I'm not sure if Ethan doesn't notice, or if he just doesn't care. Either way, it doesn't really matter to me. I get to spend time with the man I really love without changing anything.
I really am a coward, aren't I?
Shortly after we were married, I realized that I didn't really love Ethan anymore. He didn't make my heart race. He didn't send shockwaves through my body with every kiss. Not like he used to anyhow.
But did I end it? Did I tell him that he should be with Theresa?
Of course not.
And even now, even when I know that a part of him will always love her, I don't speak up, I don't say anything.
Our marriage is a sham in every way that it could be. I don't love him; he doesn't love me. We're together really in name only. I play my role as the perfect society wife, and no one has any idea how I really feel.
I've become Ivy Crane.
Ivy's love for Sam Bennett is common knowledge in Harmony by now, but I had always rolled my eyes at the thought of her hiding Ethan's paternity. This was partially because I knew how much the secret had hurt him, and because she had chosen to marry Julian.
But now I know how she felt. Even more, I can understand her attraction to a Bennett man.
I don't know if I've said this yet, but I'm in love with Noah Bennett. We're sneaking around behind Ethan's back, and I know that he hates it. I keep waiting for him to give me an ultimatum, to make me choose between him and Ethan.
He hasn't done it yet, thank God.
I honestly don't know how I would choose. Ethan has always been there for me, and we have shared so many firsts. I honestly can't imagine living my life without him.
But I can't imagine a life without Noah either.
Noah makes me hot; he makes me yell, yes. But what I have with him is more than just sex.
The way he just can't stop looking at me makes me feel beautiful. The way he just can't keep his hands off me makes me feel sexy. And when I look into his eyes, I can see that he loves me.
I used to be able to see the same thing in Ethan's eyes, but it has long since disappeared. Now, Ethan's eyes are filled with a distance, a sense of detachment that hadn't always been there.
We both spend a lot of our time working. It's easier to work long hours than to come home to a cold house that is without love.
I can't help but think that he knows about Noah, and that's why he never questions my early morning runs or volunteers to come with me. Ethan also loves to run, and when we were in college, we would always go for early morning jogs on the beach together.
Needless to say, we don't do that anymore.
Actually, it was on a run that I met Noah, believe it or not. I was jogging down the beach, completely absorbed in my own little world when I ran into someone and fell to the ground.
Immediately prepared to give him the lashing of a lifetime, but when I looked at him, I just … couldn't.
It had been a few month ago, in the heat of summer, so his finely toned muscles had quickly caught my eye as he helped me to my feet. My gaze slowly traveled upwards to his strong jaw, chocolate brown eyes, and unruly chestnut mane.
I must admit that I'm not a strong believer in 'love at first sight,' but if such a thing does exist, that would have been a prime example.
Sparks were flying as he asked me out to dinner that night. I accepted and agreed to meet him at his apartment. Needless to say, we never made it to the restaurant.
I spent a few more nights in his bed before I realized that it was more than just a fling, so I told him about Ethan.
I told him how I didn't love him anymore, about how we were married in name only. I told him about how every day since I had met him I wished that I was still Gwendolyn Hotchkiss, rather than Mrs. Ethan Winthrop.
He had problems dealing with the fact that he was sleeping with a married woman, and I honestly didn't blame him. I had always thought that if you didn't plan on being true to your spouse, you shouldn't bother getting married.
But when I had gotten married, the idea of not wanting to be with Ethan had been the last thing on my mind. After all, when you say forever, you only think about the good ahead – not about the possible pitfalls.
But that's not the important thing. The important thing is that Noah managed to come to terms with it, or at least that's the façade he displays. I know that he's hoping that I will leave Ethan for him some day, but I never thought that that would even be a remote possibility. That is, until that night …
Excitedly, I opened the front door to reveal the always sexy Noah Bennett. The top few buttons of his azure shirt were unbuttoned, revealing a good amount of his muscular chest. Somehow, I managed to tear my gaze from his body and look into his sparkling brown orbs.
He pulled his hand from behind his back to present me with a single red rose. "Happy October 1," he whispered, brushing his lips sensually against my own.
I gave myself to the kiss, thinking about how sweet he was. He had no reason to buy me flowers, yet he had simply because it had been October 1, not that that meant anything.
Was it really October first?
Immediately, I thought about my day's schedule. I'd had a conference call with the manager of our Chicago and Milwaukee branches, which happened during the first and third weeks of each month.
My father had called from New York to chat. He liked to pretend that he was a good father, calling to have an "impromptu" talk with his daughter.
But he always called on the first of the month. I bet he had it penciled in on his schedule.
Yes, it was really October first, and that fact meant one thing and one thing alone. I was late.
The thought of a potential pregnancy and the repercussions such an event would have flooded my brain. For months I had tip-toed between being a doting wife to Ethan and a fantastic lover to Noah.
My eyes rolled up in my head as I felt myself fall from my tightrope.
"Gwen. Gwen, honey, wake up. Show me those pretty eyes of yours, baby," I heard a voice beg through the dense blackness that surrounded me.
Noah. It was his voice. I could hear the fear in his voice. My eyes opened and allowed me to see the worry in his eyes, and the relief that followed my awakening.
"Oh, sweetheart," he sighed, laying a gentle kiss on my forehead. "How are you feeling?"
"Just fine," I replied, raising my eyebrow seductively and giving him a saucy grin.
He chuckled. "Somehow I doubt you're feeling that well, Gwennie," he said softly, tucking a strand of my auburn hair behind my ear. "No, we're going to take it easy tonight."
"Will you stay with me tonight?" I asked nervously. Staying with me would mean sleeping in the same bed that I shared with Ethan, and I wasn't sure how he would react to that idea. After all, it had taken a lot of persuasion on my part to convince him to come to my place that night.
But he replied just as I should have known he would.
"I don't think there's any place I would rather be," he murmured, as he wrapped his arms around me protectively, pulling me into his embrace.
"Good morning, beautiful," Noah greeted me, as I opened me eyes to reveal his smiling face. "Are you feeling any better?"
I nodded slowly, a soft grin filling my face. Waking up in Noah's bed could always bring a smile to my face.
But this wasn't Noah's bed. This was my bed.
I had passed out last night because I had realized that I was late. I didn't want this to be happening. I didn't want to have to make a choice.
But I knew I'd have to. And Noah had every right to help me make that choice.
"Noah," I ventured softly, "I'm late."
He chuckled. "Sweetheart, I think that they'll understand if you don't come in today. You need your rest."
He had no idea what I was talking about. Like me, the possibility of a pregnancy had never crossed his mind. God, I wanted to be as oblivious as he was at that moment.
But I couldn't. And in a moment, neither would he.
"Noah, I'm late," I repeated, a bit louder. "I think I might be pregnant."
He looked at me, skeptical at first. He didn't want to think about that possibility any more than I did.
As he realized that I was serious, his eyes clouded over with a cold, jealous fury. "So this is it, huh? This is how you're going to end it?"
"What? Noah, what are you talking about?" I asked, his words catching me off-guard.
"You're carrying his child, Gwen," he scoffed. "I'm not going to stick around while you raise the next little Ethan. It was hard enough doing this when I was only coming between the two of you – I'm not going to break up a family. I just won't do it."
"Noah, the baby's yours," I whispered, laying hand on his cheek. "I haven't slept with Ethan since long before I met you."
I looked carefully into Noah's eyes, trying to gauge what he was thinking and feeling, but they were devoid of emotion. I hated when he did that.
"Gwen," he began slowly, "first we need to find out if you actually are pregnant. Then we'll figure out where to go from there. Can you walk to my car? Or do you want me to carry you?"
"I can walk," I insisted, slowly rising to my feet. "Give me 30 minutes to shower and change, and we'll leave."
"What are you going to do if the tests come back positive?" he asked carefully almost an hour later. We were waiting for the results of my pregnancy test at an ob/gyn office in Castleton, and I was sure that we were both afraid of what the results might be.
"I'm going to leave Ethan," I replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. And it was – to me at least. After all, Ethan might have been blind enough to miss the fact that I was cheating on him, but he would know that the baby couldn't possibly be his.
"Why?" Noah asked, his damn eyes still not revealing anything.
"Well, if I don't leave him, I'm willing to bet he'll throw me out. I'm carrying another man's child, Noah – that doesn't exactly do wonders for the ego."
"And what if they come back negative, Gwen? What then? Will you tell Ethan the truth, or – "
"Mr. and Mrs. Bennett?" the receptionist interrupted, causing us to stand in response to her call. "The doctor will see you now."
Well, it appeared that I was about to have my fate decided for me. If I was pregnant, as I suspected, my life as I knew it would be over. Granted, there wasn't much about it that I was really attached to, but it would mean hurting Ethan. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt the man who had always been there for me when we were younger.
I took a deep breath and walked into the office, hoping that everything would work out, that I would get lucky.
But for some reason, I wasn't counting on it.
And now I'm right back where I started – sleeping in a bed of lies. I had lied to Ethan for so many months, and now those same lies caused me to lose the most important thing in my life.
Did I say that I'm not pregnant?
No sooner than I had let out my sigh of relief did I gasp in shock.
Noah ended it between us. He said that when the receptionist had assumed that we were married, he had felt a rush of pride and love. He'd envisioned the perfect storybook life for the two of us, and it pained him to know that it was never going to happen, that I was never going to leave Ethan.
I begged him not to leave me. Not the most flattering action, I know, but I need him in my life, and I didn't know how else to make him see that. In the end, it came down to the fact that I wouldn't leave Ethan.
Rather ironic, I suppose. In attempting to protect one man's feelings, I hurt the one that I love above all things.
I will admit that when the receptionist called us Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, I too had felt a rush of those same emotions.
Then again, compared to Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop, almost anything would be great.
I love Noah, yes, but would our love be able to endure through all the obstacles that we would face?
It's not that I doubted the strength of our love, but I instinctively knew that his family wouldn't approve of our relationship. And when it came down to it, he would choose his family over me.
Families like his were full of love. He actually had a real relationship with his parents, unlike mine with my own parents.
My mother's idea of a heart-to-heart conversation was to plot and plan ways to get more money, power, and prestige. After her own impending marriage to Julian Crane had fallen through, she had immediately found a different rich, powerful man to wed.
It was hard to believe that at one point in time, I had thought that she helped me get Ethan back from Theresa because she loved me. Now, I know that she was really ashamed of the fact that I had been unceremoniously dumped for the housekeeper's daughter. She was simply working to resurrect her own reputation with no concern for what was best for me.
She didn't think about the fact that I probably didn't belong with a man who could be wooed so easily by a lying, manipulative slut in a short skirt. She didn't think about the fact that maybe I should have let my heart heal before I started dating again – let alone before I got married.
Above all, she refused to let me entertain the idea that maybe I hadn't loved Ethan anymore, that maybe I hadn't wanted to be with a man who treated me with as little care and respect as he had.
I'm not trying to lay all of the blame on my mother though. If I hadn't been so easily persuaded that having Ethan was my right as a Hotchkiss, I never would have married him. Hell, I probably wouldn't have talked to him again – at least, not for awhile.
I was mad. I was hurt. I was humiliated. I wanted nothing more than to run away from Harmony with my tail between my legs.
But my Hotchkiss upbringing had taught me never to show my emotions in public. It had taught me to never let a man like Ethan get away. Above all, it had taught me to never say die.
But I should have. Oh, I should have.
But instead I married a man who didn't love me anymore, a man who would never love me again.
A man who I no longer loved.
Ethan came back from Japan this morning. As always, we fell asleep side-by-side in our bed.
The same bed that Noah and I had shared mere nights ago.
Lying there, in that bed, beside Ethan, I realized that I can't do this anymore. I realized that I can't go along with this charade anymore.
I don't love him. I know that. Noah knows that. Hell, Ethan probably knows that.
Now all that I really have to do is find some way to tell Ethan that it's over. And, really, I think that's about all that's holding me back right now.
After all, how do you tell the person that you vowed to love and to cherish for the rest of your life that you don't want to do that anymore? How do you tell them that you didn't mean what you said when you promised forever?
I only wish that I knew.
I'm on my way now. I've started a new chapter in my life.
One without Ethan, yes, but it's also one without Noah.
When I finally found the nerve to tell Ethan that it was over that morning, he had asked if there was someone else. I hadn't wanted to say yes, but I hadn't really wanted to say no either.
So in the end, I had told the truth. There wasn't someone else in my life. Not anymore, at least.
I had driven to Worldwide Travel the previous day to book a flight to Paris. I was hoping that the trip would be for two, but what I saw on the way there changed that.
What I saw was Noah, my Noah, cozying up to a new girl, a Latin girl – just like Theresa. I knew then that I didn't mean much of anything to him – at least, not anymore. After all, if he had been able to move on so fast, his love for me couldn't have counted for much of anything.
And that hurt.
If I had known that things would work out as they did, I think I still would have ended it with Ethan. Our marriage was a farce, and there was no point in continuing to pretend otherwise.
As I boarded the plane, I saw Noah's face everywhere. I saw his unruly hair on the little boy in front of me. I saw his chocolate brown eyes in the woman standing behind me.
We've all seen those movies where the boy meets the girl at the airport to stop her from leaving. Let me clear this up right now – that didn't happen for me. I kept looking for him, hoping that he would come after me.
So I'm heading to my one remaining true friend in the world – Sheridan. She and Luis moved to France a few years ago to attempt to escape the disapproval of Alistair, and she offered to let me stay with them for a bit until I got back on my feet.
I'll have Sheridan back in my life, which is fantastic. We haven't shared as much as we used to with her living an ocean away, but I'm sure that we'll pick up right where we left off.
But even if I have Sheridan, I still don't have Noah. And right now, a life without Noah is hard to imagine.
Why did I have to be so stubborn?
As I disembarked, I searched for Sheridan's blonde head or Luis's dark one. They had planned to be there when I landed, but they were nowhere in sight.
Were they alright? Had something happened? Why weren't they at the airport to pick me up, as promised?
I began searching through my purse, looking for Sheridan's cell phone number. I knew that I had written it on a small slip of red paper, but with my luck it had fallen out during the flight.
Suddenly, something red appeared before my eyes. It wasn't a slip of paper though.
Rather, it was a beautiful, perfect rose that was connected to a hand that I knew all too well.
My gaze traveled up the arm, just as it had a few months earlier, until I was greeted by Noah's nervous smile.
It's odd associating that word with Noah. For as long as I've known him, he's always been very sure of himself, and very decisive in his actions. But something was different now. The question was, what?
"Happy 'Your-Boyfriend's-A-Dumbass-And-He's-Sorry' Day, Gwennie," he whispered.
My mouth dropped open. I was just preparing to tell him to go back to his new girlfriend because I didn't need him, but he had spoken first. Had he said what I hoped he'd said?
"Say that again?" I requested quietly.
"Gwennie, I've screwed up so bad, and I'm sorry. These past few days have been hell for me, first envisioning you with Ethan and then knowing how much I must have hurt you. I never should have let you go, Gwennie, and I never want to go another day without you."
I was still speechless, his words running through my head over and over again. Did he mean what he said?
I wanted to trust him. Oh, God, I wanted to trust him, but could I?
"Noah," I began hesitantly, "who was that woman I saw you with at your apartment?"
"Paloma," he said simply.
Paloma? He had left me for another Lopez-Fitzgerald tramp?
I pulled my hand back to slap him, but he caught it in midair. "Gwennie, I was going to leave Harmony. After all, I didn't want to see you everywhere with the husband I knew you didn't love, not when I loved you just as much as you loved me. Paloma just came back to town, and she needed an apartment so she was checking out mine. She's an old friend, and I hadn't seen her in years. I was just trying to help her out, Gwennie." He paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. "I saw you drive by, and I immediately thought of you being with Ethan. The thought made me crazy with jealousy – and I hated that. So I tried to show you that I had moved on already with Paloma. I tried to show you that I didn't love you or need you. Well, apparently it worked great – you were convinced. It was all a lie, Gwennie – I love you so much."
I listened to his words and tried my best to find a hole, to find some inconsistency. I couldn't.
Don't get me wrong – it's not that I didn't want to be with Noah. Rather, it's just that Ethan's duplicity in the past made me wary of how truthful men were being.
"How did you find me?" I asked slowly.
"Ethan told Dad this morning that he was getting a divorce. I was around, so I listened in on their conversation. He said something about you going to Paris for awhile to get away from it all. It was amazing how much my mood fluctuated in the span of about five minutes. First, I was ecstatic that you had finally decided to divorce Ethan. Then, when I realized that my ploy to show you that I didn't need you had worked too well, I felt like the scum of the earth. I'm sorry, Gwennie – so sorry.
"By the time I got to the airport, your flight had already left. Damn Ethan – waiting so long to come talk to Dad," he added with a smirk, eliciting a laugh from me. I knew that he didn't really feel that way, but his way of complaining about it was cute.
"But if you got to the airport after I left, how did you manage to beat me here?" I asked slowly, trying to make sense of it all.
"The Concorde gets you here in half the time, Gwennie. You, of all people, should know that."
I laughed again. That was one of the best things about Noah – he knew how to make me laugh better than anyone else. With Noah, I was happier than I had ever been before. I knew then that it didn't matter what he had done to drive me away, he would be in my heart for the rest of my life.
Slowly, I raised my head and looked Noah in the eye, a smile filling my face. "I love you, Noah." A matching grin quickly spread across his features, before he captured my lips with his own.
His kiss was just as wonderful as I had remembered. It was soft and loving, and it made me tingle all the way down to my toes.
A few moments passed before I realized that we were still standing in the middle of the airport. Blushing softly, I pulled away.
"What do you say we get out of here?" I proposed, raising my eyebrow seductively.
He chuckled heartily. God, I had missed the sound of his laughter. He slipped his arm around my waist, as we headed towards the exit.
Gently, he laid a soft kiss on my temple. "There's nothing I want more."
So Noah and I are together now. It's fantastic and wonderful – just as I thought it would be.
Maybe it will last forever.
Maybe it won't.
Right now, we have no plans to get married. As it is, it will take a few months for my divorce to be finalized, and I'm in no hurry to get married again.
I must admit that I find it hard to believe that I have moved from my bed of lies to a new bed of love – not that I'm complaining.
A few days after Noah and I met up in Paris, Ethan sent me an e-mail telling me about how he had run into Theresa in a Boston office building. From what he's told me, the years have tempered her dreamy, flighty spirit with a good dose of reality. They're together again, in love more than they had ever been.
I guess the moral to this story is not to give up on love … well, not really.
I suppose the irony is actually more apparent than the moral. Everything ended how it should have begun. Ethan with Theresa … and me, well, me with anyone but Ethan …
So I guess the real moral is that love is pretty unpredictable, and the more you try to predict it, the more confusing it really gets. So don't waste your time trying to understand love.
Love is all of the best things in the world – hope, faith, courage, and joy all combined into one. It may lead you on a twisted, agonizing path, but in the end all of the pain, all of the sorrow, all of the tears are worth it. So sometimes, just sometimes, try to listen to your heart, rather than your head … or your mother, as the case may be.
I guarantee that it will be worth it in the end.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this and - if you have any particular comments or critiques, please leave me a review. I'd love to hear from you! :)