This is the flip side of the first part-or, same song, second verse, sort of. The flashback in italics actually happened on the show in the summer of '94 and is at YouTube.
I hate to tell you this, but I'm very, very happy
And I know that's not what you'd expect from me at all
Holly was currently experiencing bliss; sheer, unadulterated, physical and emotional bliss, lying in bed, all wrapped up in Roger, basking in both the afterglow of their lovemaking and the outcome of the conversation that had preceded it.
She had finally told him her true feelings about his marriage to Alexandra. She'd been holding that back for years, ever since their fateful trip to Acapulco. Seeing Roger go back to Alex after that had been difficult for her. But somehow, by a miracle, Holly and Roger had finally found their way back to each other three years after Acapulco, a journey that had begun when Roger had come out from hiding in her basement after Billy Lewis had shot him and she had taken care of him. She had tried to keep her old pain and insecurities at bay when Roger had started going after Spaulding Enterprises again a few months after they had gotten back together, but ultimately she hadn't been able to do it, and today she had finally told him the truth after their latest argument about Alex and Spaulding Enterprises.
Part of the reason she had held back the truth about her feelings was that she was afraid Roger would dismiss her feelings, or think she was just being neurotic. Holly could admit that she was a little neurotic about the marriage-to-Alex chapter of Roger's life. She just didn't want Roger to act like her feelings didn't count for anything. She had discussed this privately with their couples therapist, Dr. Eileen Janssen, and Dr. Janssen had understood Holly's fears, but had counseled her that she needed to tell Roger how she felt, because bottling it up would only hurt them and their relationship in the end.
And today, when she had finally 'fessed up in the middle of their latest argument about Roger's pursuit of Spaulding, he hadn't acted like she was being ridiculous or neurotic, nor had he been the least bit dismissive. They had each made it a point to listen to and really hear one another, and Roger understood her feelings. She knew he had been surprised. He had admitted that it had never occurred to him how she must have felt when he had married Alex because he thought that she didn't care about him anymore, that she had forgotten anything she had ever felt for him. When she had confessed that it had cut her deeply to see him married to Alex, and that she still feared she might lose him in this quest for Spaulding, he had gripped her hands in both of his and promised that he wasn't going anywhere, and then he had said he never felt anything for Alexandra like what he feels for her, and that the only thing he truly wanted in the world was to be with her. Then they had made love, a combination of making up from the argument, and Roger reassuring Holly that he had meant every word he'd said.
Dr. Janssen was right: it was so much better to clear the air than to keep things bottled up inside. No one knew they'd been seeing a therapist for months, not even their daughter Blake. Dr. Janssen was brilliant and a big help. She was excellent at guiding them in the right direction and then leaving it to them to do what she called the heavy lifting, the actual work. The couples therapy was teaching them both a lot, most importantly how to break the old destructive patterns of behavior that had decimated them and their relationship in the past. It was rarely easy, but it was always worthwhile.
Holly had been happier in the past year than she'd ever been in her life. (Well, minus those terrifying days after Roger sneaked out of the house with the bullet still in his chest, leaving her and Blake to worry that he would collapse and die in some alley somewhere; the fear had disappeared when Bridget Reardon had taken her to him at the Jessup farm, and she hadn't left his side since.) She had never expected to be this happy, especially after all the years she had spent trying to find happiness in other relationships and never even coming close. Ed, Ross, Daniel St. John… She could admit now, even if it made her cringe at her own stupidity in the process, that she had spent years mired in denial and lying to herself about the simple truth that she was, always had been, and forever would be a one-man woman, and that one man was Roger Thorpe.
She was thankful every day that time had ultimately led her and Roger to this place—back together, very much in love with each other, making a life together, and, as Holly had put it when Roger had presented her with a diamond-and-sapphire ring the week after Blake and Ross's wedding which she had worn on her right hand ever since because she wasn't saying no to marriage but she wasn't ready for it yet and wouldn't move the ring to her left hand until she was ready, engaged to be engaged. Roger had promised Holly no pressure when he had given her the ring, and true to his word, he hadn't brought up getting married, proposed again, or asked her to move the ring even once in the six months since he had given it to her.
The afternoon dusk was fading into the evening darkness, and Holly was happy to be exactly where she was: in their bed, she and Roger wrapped up in each other's arms, sharing long, slow kisses. Reluctantly cognizant of the fact that it was getting on towards dinner time, she pulled back from him to look into his eyes, wiping away the smudge of her lipstick that she noticed on the corner of his mouth with her thumb. "We should see about dinner," she said.
"Not yet," he replied. "Let's just…" He kissed her again. "…stay here a while longer, just like this."
She gave him a flirtatious smile, reasoning that she wasn't all that hungry yet anyway and deciding to have a little fun. "Convince me," she said playfully, her hands disappearing beneath the covers.
He pulled her on top of him and was about to begin kissing her breathless when without warning, the bedroom door flew open, and there stood Alexandra Spaulding, not even seeming to take notice of where they were or what they were doing as she demanded, "Roger, I need to talk to you, NOW!"
You go around in circles that just keep getting smaller
You wake up one morning and half your life is gone
I got so tired of that; I got so lonely
"Alex, what the hell? Get out of our house!" Roger exclaimed angrily as Holly rolled off of him and sat up, clutching the top sheet to her chest.
"Not until you talk to me," Alex retorted stubbornly.
"Have you really not noticed that this isn't a good time?" Roger gritted out through clenched teeth. He looked at Holly, who sat frozen beside him.
"Everything is falling apart!" Alex shouted. "Alan… I just came from a board meeting where he set me up to make a complete ass of myself, and I can't get Nick to listen to me, and Alan-Michael is no help because he's on Alan's side. You have to help me, Roger!"
Holly was just as frozen on the inside as she looked on the outside. This was her worst nightmare come true: Alexandra Spaulding bursting in on her and Roger in bed together to lure Roger away from her for the sake of Spaulding business. Holly wanted to scream at Alex. She wanted to rail at her and tell her to get out and stay out of their bedroom, their house, their life. She wanted to let Alex know in no uncertain terms that Roger was hers, not Alex's.
But Holly did none of those things, because this was not her call to make. This decision was all on Roger, and Holly would not, could not, beg him to choose her, choose them, over Alex and Spaulding Enterprises.
Holly looked from Alex, carrying on her tirade in the doorway of their bedroom—a bedroom that Roger had only permanently moved into two months ago, after months of patiently and faithfully abiding by Holly's ridiculous-in-retrospect 'we'll have separate bedrooms and we'll visit' edict—and braced herself for the blow she knew she would feel to the depths of her soul if Roger left their bed to hold Alex's hand through this latest so-called Spaulding crisis.
Roger opened his mouth to speak.
And the blow didn't come.
I dropped down and I called out to heaven
Send me someone to love
And heaven shot back, You get the love that you allow
And everything is different now
Roger squeezed Holly's shoulder, looked Alexandra right in the eye, and said, "No, Alex, I don't have to help you. As a matter of fact, I am done helping you."
Holly and Alex both looked at Roger in shock.
"You don't mean that," Alex said in disbelief.
"Yes, I do," Roger said firmly. "I'm done. You're using me, Alex. You're using me to try and get one up on Alan, and to keep him and Alan-Michael out of the company. And you have totally crossed the line, barging into our bedroom like this! I somehow managed to forget how rampant the Spaulding insanity runs when it comes to you and Alan battling for control of your precious company, but you've just given me a very vivid reminder. I'm not going to play your Spaulding games anymore. There is no way I'm going to be that foolish or that masochistic ever again. I have better and more important things to do with my life than to get sucked into the middle of your family's raging dysfunction again."
Alex scoffed at this. "You forget, Roger, I know you. I know you're addicted to the money and the power that only Spaulding can give you."
"I was once," Roger admitted, "but I'm not anymore. I'm not that idiotic anymore, Alex. On the short list of things that truly matter to me, Spaulding Enterprises doesn't make the cut. It's taken me a lifetime, but I finally have my priorities straight, and they don't include you or your company. Whatever it is you're going to do, you're going to do it without me. I'm out of it completely as of this moment."
Unbidden, a memory of the day after she had caught Roger about to read a confidential file in Ross's office pertaining to Spaulding Enterprises a few months ago flashed into Holly's mind then, specifically what Roger had said after she had asked him how she could trust him after that…
"I didn't read it. I didn't read one word of it. I'll swear to that on my life. I don't want to know what's in it. I don't know what's in it. And if getting Spaulding means losing you, I'm just gonna have to figure out some way to live without it."
Holly had looked at Roger for a moment after he finished talking. She wanted to believe him. But she needed to be sure he was telling her the truth about all of it.
She shook her head. "Too many words," she said. "And I've heard them all before." She paused for a second, then said, "Just look in my eyes, and then I'll know if you really mean it."
He had taken two steps closer to her, and they stood there, looking in each other's eyes. Roger held her gaze, not blinking, never wavering, never flinching.
And Holly knew: he really meant it.
She took a step to finish closing the gap between them, framed his face in her hands for a moment, then hugged him. He wrapped his arms around her and held on tight. They swayed gently together, holding onto each other, and, with her chin resting on his shoulder, Holly smiled and closed her eyes.
He really meant it.
He had meant it then, and she could see in his eyes, those soulful brown orbs that could no longer hide anything from her, that no longer even tried to hide anything from her, that he meant it even more now.
He was giving up the pursuit of Spaulding for her, for them.
He was choosing her, choosing them and their relationship and their life together, over Spaulding Enterprises.
Holly felt a warmth spreading through her insides, vanquishing forever all the doubts and fears and insecurities about Alex and her corporation that Holly had fought against so hard and for so long.
When Roger said he was done with Alex, done with Spaulding, and completely out of whatever this was that he'd been in these past months, he meant it!
Holly knew that Alex could see that Roger meant it, too, and it made Alex panic more than she already was. "But the presidency was going to be yours!" she shouted.
Now it was Roger's turn to scoff. "You would have screwed me over in favor of Nick the first chance you got, and we both know it," he said. "Now, I'll tell you one more time, Alex: get out of our house. Or do I have to get dressed, get up, and physically throw you out, because I will gladly do that if I have to."
Alex looked at Holly then. Holly knew she wouldn't be able to speak without her voice being hoarse or cracking, so she just gave Alex a dazed smile that said what she was thinking: I wasn't expecting this either, but he obviously means it.
"You'll regret this," Alex said in a clipped tone, looking to Roger once more.
"No, I won't," Roger replied serenely. "Not one little bit. There's the door, Alex. Don't let it hit you on the way out."
Shooting daggers at Roger and Holly both, Alex stood her ground for one second more, then turned on her heel and noisily flounced out of their bedroom, slamming the bedroom door behind her. A few seconds later, they heard her slam the front door behind her.
Once Alex had departed Roger said, "We have to get a locksmith out here first thing in the morning, change the front and back door locks, and find new hiding places for the spare keys."
"I can't believe you did that," Holly said feelingly, her voice rough with emotion.
Roger brushed Holly's hair off her forehead. "You come first, Hol. Always," he said determinedly. "And after what we talked about earlier, I would have had to be the world's biggest fool not to see the blazing neon signs pointing out the crossroads, and I'm not a fool. Not anymore. I've worked too long and too hard to earn back your trust to jeopardize it by staying in league with Alex. Spaulding or you, it's no contest. You, hands down, every single time."
Tears pricked at Holly's eyes. A deluge of emotions was welling up inside of her, and she wouldn't be able to hold it back. She didn't want to hold it back. She had known for quite some time that a test that would force the issue once and for all was coming, and deep down, she feared that their relationship might not survive it. But it did. It would. The test had come in the form of Alex barging into their bedroom and blindsiding them both, and Roger, without hesitating for even half a second, had given up Spaulding for a life with her. Joy, relief, and a surging wave of love were bubbling up inside her, all fighting their way to the surface, demanding expression, and she was trying to keep them at bay, but it was a battle.
Needing both a focal point and to touch Roger, she threw her arms around him and dropped her head to his shoulder, closing her eyes and silently thanking God, on the off chance He was listening to the likes of her, for not letting her and Roger be torn asunder again.
She felt Roger softly, soothingly rub her back. "Hey, now, there's no need for tears," he said.
She squeezed him before drawing back to look at him, leaving her arms loosely clasped around him, still needing that physical connection. "Yes, there is," she said, sniffling. "They're happy tears. You gave up Spaulding for me, for us."
"All I gave up was the one thing that had the most potential to derail us," he replied. "To me, that's not giving up. That's coming out ahead. I will find another professional challenge that won't rip us apart. Do you remember Acapulco?"
"I'll never forget it," Holly replied, laying her head on his chest as he eased them back down onto the pillows, his arms wrapped around her, holding her close. She trailed her fingertips down his forearm, still needing to feel him.
"Remember when we were there and we talked about how when we were married before, neither of us knew what we were doing?" he asked. She nodded against his chest, and he went on. "I never asked you what was wrong. You never told me what was wrong. All we did was fight. We didn't communicate. But now we do communicate. We finally learned how to, with the help of a very good therapist.
"Well, today I asked you what was wrong, and you told me. After that conversation, I knew that the crossroads was fast approaching. And as soon as Alex threw open that door, there it was."
She shifted so that she could see his face. He shifted so that he could cradle her face in his hands, wiping the traces of tears from the corners of her eyes with his thumbs.
"I love our life, Holly. I love you," he said fervently, dropping his hands to her shoulders as she looked at him in awe. "And I remember what it was like all those years without you. It was horrible. It was like living in a world of gray. There was no light, no color. I could never catch my breath.
"I love you and need you too much to go back to that life. It's like you said in Acapulco: we could have worked when we were young. We didn't then, but we do now, and I want us to keep on working. That means no Alex, no Spaulding Enterprises, no Spaulding family. Let them all destroy each other and the last one standing gets the company. I don't care. Giving up the pursuit of Spaulding Enterprises to keep this life with you that I, by some fabulous miracle, finally have is the easiest decision I ever made."
Oh, and it's sweet to know
The wisdom that living brings
Since I got a telegram from the god of simple things
She said, "I don't care what you do for a living."
She said, "I don't care what kind of car you drive."
All I want to know right now is what do you believe in
And what it means to you to be alive
Will you stand here in this fire with me?
Are you ready for another life?
And that was when the dam burst. Needing to express the torrent of emotions coursing through her, Holly practically tackled Roger, pushing him down into the mattress as she rained kisses all over his face, punctuating them with whispered declarations of love, then gradually kissing and caressing her way down his body. She felt the pounding of his heart against her own, the quickening of his breath as she moved, the oneness they only ever felt with each other.
Later, when Roger was curled around her, spooning her, fast asleep, Holly looked down at the ring on her right hand. Not for the first time in recent weeks, she reflected that in the six months since he had placed this ring on her finger, he hadn't said or done anything to pressure her in any way to marry him. He had respected her need for more time. He had shown a patience with her that neither of them had known he was capable of until now.
Lying there with him after all that had happened that day, feeling his chest rise and fall against her bare back, a feeling of utter peace enveloped her, and she knew that she was finally ready to marry him again.
Christmas was in ten…make that nine days, she corrected herself after glancing at the alarm clock. She couldn't think of a more perfect Christmas present for Roger than to move the ring and tell him she was ready to marry him. And that's what she resolved to do: to marry him as soon as possible. A big wedding was not their style. They were both already taking the week between Christmas and New Year's off from work. They could use that time to get married and have a few days' honeymoon. And she knew exactly where she wanted to take Roger for their honeymoon.
So, she thought as she composed a mental list of things to do, they would have to tell Blake, and then Ross would have to peel Blake off the ceiling. Holly would have to check into the honeymoon destination and make the arrangements for it. They would need the license, rings, flowers, she and Blake would need dresses, Roger's tuxedo would need to be cleaned and pressed, and they'd have to make an appointment with a Justice of the Peace.
She looked at her engagement ring on her right hand with a sleepy smile. She was ready to marry Roger, and she would move the ring and tell him that on Christmas Eve, and then tell Roger that she wanted to marry him right away, as soon as they could make all the arrangements.
As she drifted off to sleep in Roger's arms, still smiling, with visions of flowers and wedding rings in her head, Holly's last thought was that she couldn't wait for Christmas to get here.
So I bit that bullet and I took that vow
And everything is different now
Everything is different now
The story continues in "Tonight and the Rest of Our Lives," which is rated M and which I've begun posting here.