Thank you all for the inspiration you have given me. I hope I don't disappoint.
Thank you also to Steph and Mrs. Bee.
I own nothing but the story.
"One, you're like a dream come true. Two, just want to be with you."
4 years ago…
"Please don't go. Isn't there anything I can say to make you change your mind?" I gave her my puppy dog eyes and pouty lip. It usually worked.
"Oh, Ash, pleeeeease don't bring out the puppy dog eyes."
I gripped onto her arms and pulled her into a bear hug.
"I'm going to be completely miserable without you, ya know? I am going to miss you like crazy and I'm going to call, like three times a day."
Chris rolled his eyes at me and I glared at him.
"Ash, I'm going to miss you too and I love you."
"Call me if you need me, for anything, okay?" It was me who was going to need her. We both knew that.
She nodded and wiped a fallen tear before pulling me in for another hug.
"We gotta go, babe," Chris said quietly.
We were at the airport and I walked with them as far as I could go. I wasn't ready to let her go, I was never good at goodbyes, or see you laters, as she called this. Spencer and the kids had said their see you laters earlier and there were a LOT of tears. The kids, especially little Alyssa, had become quite attached to Miranda, and the boys both loved Chris. He was like a big brother to them.
"I'll call you as soon as we land, I promise."
"You better," I threatened, swallowing the sudden lump in my throat.
"Aww, Ash. Don't do that."
"I'm fine. You gotta go." I picked up her bag and put the strap on her shoulder.
"Go, and don't forget to call."
She smiled and turned towards Chris.
He gave me one last glance and then nodded before taking her hand and starting in the other direction. Before they could get too far I pulled him back.
"Whoa, geez Ashley!"
"You better take care of her, I mean it, or so help me I will come back to L.A. and beat your ass. Got it?"
I heard Miranda giggle behind him.
"Got it?" I had to repeat, he stared at me with wide eyes.
"I got it and I will," he said with a smile. "Now can you please let go of my collar?"
I let him go and straightened his collar for him.
"Good bye, Ashley," he said softly. I was surprised to see the sadness in his eyes.
I watched them walk away, finally letting the tears fall. I was going to miss her so much.
Miranda moved back to L.A. with Chris, and when she left, she took a piece of me with her. Sooo cheesy, but so true. She was my first real best friend. She was a part of me that I was not happy letting go, but she had her own life. Chris was given the opportunity to rejoin his band, they were going to record an album, he couldn't pass the opportunity up. Miranda was able to find a job easily; she was a great psychologist, especially for someone so young. I wasn't surprised. She had helped me so many times.
It was a little after 9 p.m. as I sat at baggage claim waiting for Miranda. Her plane had just landed and I had to admit to myself that I was nervous. Excited but nervous. It was going to be so great to see her but if you know Miranda, you know she was going to give me hell about my situation with Spencer. In fact, she had been doing that for the past year.
I got a brief glance at my best friend as she rounded the corner and I jumped up out of my seat. When she came into view again, she had a big smile on her face, and I relaxed a bit. She dropped her carry-on bag and pulled me into her arms.
"So good to see you, Ash," She whispered in my ear.
I didn't respond. I couldn't.
My marriage was a disaster, my wife fell out of love with me, and I ruined our happy family.
I needed my best friend more than ever. The feeling of her arms around me, the comfort that warmth created, told me that everything was going to be okay.
She was here for me; she would help me get everything back.
"I'm going to help you fix this, Ash. You two belong together, forever. I'm here to help with whatever you need." She held my face in her hands and the tears slid down my cheeks.
"You've made quite a mess, ya know?"
I just nodded.
"It's okay. It's not too late. I don't think it would ever be too late. No matter what you think, Spencer still loves you."
She pulled me into another hug and I played those words over and over again in my head.
Spencer still loves you.
Oh, how I hoped she was right.
The long car ride home consisted of me telling her how the last few months had been. She wasn't very happy with my lack of attempts at trying to put my marriage back together.
"You still love her, right? You're still in love with her?" She asked and I was disappointed in the fact that she even had to ask.
"Of course I still love her. I'll always love her. It's Spencer."
"Then what the hell is wrong with you? You still love her, yet you've made no attempt to show her that you still love her," she yelled and I almost swerved off the road.
"Sorry," she said in a now, very calm voice. "I just don't understand you, Ashley."
Uh oh, she called me Ashley.
"That makes two of us."
She sighed loudly before running her hands through her hair.
"You've made a lot of bad decisions over the years, but not so bad that you can't make one good decision to fix all of the bad ones."
"Wow, you are really good at your job, huh?" I laughed.
"Ash, do you remember when we were back in high school and I came over one day and found you with an empty bottle of vodka?"
"Yeah, I do. I could never forget that day if I wanted to."
"What is wrong with me? Why can't I just be happy? I am trying my best to turn my life around. To be someone that my friends can depend on, be proud of, look up to. I am trying so damn hard but I take a step forward and get thrown two steps back." I leaned my head on her shoulder.
"You don't have to go through this alone Ashley. I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. When you start feeling like this you need to call me. Ashley, you're my best friend. I need you. If it wasn't for you I would still be hiding in my room wondering instead of doing. And you are that person to me. I know I can depend on you and I am proud of you. And I would look up to you but you're kinda short." She laughed.
"I need you like you need me. But I can't be the friend you need if you don't let me in. All the way in…not just a few steps, okay?"
"Okay," I said, my voice was quiet and hoarse.
"No more vodka. K?" She rubbed my arm.
"Yeah. No more vodka." I groaned.
"Yeah. Doc. You always make me feel better and you're kind of like a shrink. But you are so much better at helping me out then they ever were."
"That's because I actually care about you." She smiled sadly. "You didn't even need those shrinks, Ash. You just needed someone you could talk to. Like a friend. You got one. And I am not going anywhere. You're stuck with me." She stuck her tongue out at me.
"Well, you're one person I don't mind being stuck with…Doc."
"You're still stuck with me, Ash. I'm here as a friend and that's it, okay? You don't need a shrink; you just need to remember who you are and what you mean to everyone around you."
"Of course I'm right. Now tell me what you're going to do to get your wife back."
We talked the rest of the way home and I told her what my plans were. At the end, she smiled and said one word only, "Brilliant."
"Aunty M!" Alyssa ran and jumped into Miranda's arms. She was just as happy to see her as I was.
"Oh, little A, I missed you too, sweetheart. What in the world are you still doing awake?"
"She had a long nap, and she didn't want to go to bed without seeing you first," Spencer said, coming up behind her.
She was in her pajamas and had her reading glasses propped up on her head. She caught me staring and I looked away quickly. What the hell was wrong with me?
"It's so good to see you, Miranda," Spencer finally said, moving in and kissing Miranda on the cheek. Alyssa still had a good grip on her and I don't think she planned on letting go anytime soon.
"So what's going on? Ashley said you were coming but didn't say why." It shouldn't have felt weird hearing her say my name, but it did.
"Actually, I have some good news and I wanted to tell you guys in person," Miranda said excitingly. "Chris and I are getting married."
And let the squealing begin. Spencer pulled Miranda into a bone crushing hug. Poor Alyssa didn't know what was going on. She just knew mommy was happy and was squeezing the life out of her.
I smiled to myself, so happy to see Spencer happy. Then I berated myself internally, for being the reason for her not being happy for the past few months.
While Spencer and Miranda talked about all of the proposal details, I tucked Alyssa into her bed.
"What's wrong, momma?" Her little voice asked as I turned on her night light.
"Nothing, sweetie, why do you ask?" I kneeled onto the floor next to her bed and moved her bangs out of her face.
"You seem sad, a lot." Her little hand reached up and cupped my cheek and I had to fight the emotions that were threatening to break through.
"Momma is sad, Lyss. But that's going to change. I promise."
"You can play princess dress-up with me tomorrow. That always makes you happy." She smiled and I couldn't help but giggle.
"Yes, it does. But you have to promise that I get to be Belle this time."
"But you're a better Beast than me," She said so seriously, I giggled at her again.
"Fine, you can be Belle again."
"I'll tell you what; we'll make Aunty M be the beast. How's that sound?"
"Yeeeeah, and you can be Lumiere."
I held my arms out like the golden candle stick. "But of course, mon ami," I said in my best French accent.
There was nothing more beautiful than the laugh from my little girl.
"I love you, Lyss."
"Love you too, momma."
I kissed her forehead and turned around to find Spencer leaning on the door frame. I could have been mistaken but it looked like she had a few tears in her eyes.
"Mommy, we're gonna make Aunty M be the beast tomorrow. Raaawr!"
"So I heard. You better get some sleep then, sounds like you have an exciting day ahead." She walked over and gave her a quick kiss. "Night, sweet dreams."
I waited out in the hallway as she shut the door.
"My mom was going to bring the boys home around noon, but my dad invited us for dinner, so she's just going to keep them."
"Okay." I nodded and waited to see if she was going to say anything else.
"I can't believe Miranda is getting married, and in two weeks!" She was looking straight ahead and when I didn't respond she looked over at me.
"Yeah, it's crazy. I'm gonna have to have a conversation with Chris."
She smiled at me and for the first time in a long time, it seemed like a genuine one.
"I'm glad that she still has you to look out for her."
Her eyes stayed on me, like they were trying to tell me something. I couldn't respond, I just stared back. Finally she looked away.
"Good night, Ashley," she said quietly before opening the bedroom door and walking away.
I had gotten used to Spencer walking away from me, and I didn't have anyone to blame but myself.
3 and a half years ago…
"I could not have a bigger headache."
"Sorry, Ash, I wish this guy had actually worked out. So you could be home more."
When Chris left, I had to manage the club myself. After a few months, it just wasn't working out. I was exhausted. Between teaching, managing the club and making time for the family, I had worn myself down. Spencer had to take me to the hospital when I passed out from exhaustion and dehydration. She talked me into hiring a new manager. Five managers later and I'm in the same position, spending all of my time, when I'm not teaching, at the club.
"I thought Brian was going to work out too. This is the third invoice he has messed up. What am I going to do with 50 cases of Miller Lite?" I slammed the invoice down on the desk and put my head in my hands. I was fuming and I was trying my hardest not to take it out on my wonderful wife who brought me dinner.
"We'll figure something out, babe," She said, trying to be comforting. It usually worked. Not this time.
"I'm gonna have to sell the club, Spence. There's no other choice. I can't do it anymore and I refuse to give up teaching." I stood up and paced around the room.
"I think you should give it a little more time. You love this place, don't give up yet."
"It's been six months, Spencer! Six months and five managers. I'm tired of it. I just want it to be done with. I can't do my job, run this club and come home and be a good wife and mother. I just can't. I have to let go of this place."
"I understand that. I do. But you'll regret it, Ash. I know you. You love it too much and you'll miss it. Isn't that the reason you opened this place to begin with?"
She had a point but I had, had enough.
"Doesn't matter. I'm done."
"SPENCER! You're not listening. I don't want it anymore. I'm tired and I'm out of patience. Can't you get that through your head?!" I regretted raising my voice as soon as the words came out. She looked pissed.
"You need to get into your head, that I am on your side here," She yelled back. I hadn't heard Spencer yell like that in a long time.
"I know you're exhausted from all of this but you will not take this out on me. I'm here to support you, always, but I'm not going to sit here and let you yell at me. I'll see you when you get home."
She walked out of the door, and I let her.
I was at the club until a little after 11p.m. and when I walked in the door it was quiet and dark. Just a dim light from the kitchen lit the hallway. I set my bag down and headed upstairs. I had to be up in six hours for work, but first I had some apologizing to do.
After a quick shower, I slid into bed. I could tell by her breathing that Spencer was already asleep. I didn't want to wake her but I couldn't wait until morning to say I was sorry.
"Spence," I whispered from behind her. She didn't budge, so I placed my hand on her hip and kissed her cheek.
"Ashley?" She turned towards me. "When did you get home?"
"I'm sorry, Spence. I didn't mean to… I'm just, so tired, and I just want to come home to my family every night, instead of that place. I just want to leave work, come home and cook dinner, pick up the kids, spend time with my family. Being at the club, growing up, that was all I had. I have so much more now. You, the kids, you're all that matters now."
Her hand caressed my cheek, a feeling of comfort and relief washed over me.
"I love you, Ashley," She said softly, "and I don't want you to regret anything."
"The only thing I regret is not spending enough time with my family."
"I'm sorry," I whispered again, leaning my forehead against hers.
"I forgive you, always."
When I got into bed, I wanted so badly to do what I had done that night. I wanted to slide my hand onto her hip, kiss her cheek and tell her I was sorry. But instead, I did what I had done every night for the last few months.
I was a coward, scared of her rejection. So afraid that she wouldn't want me touching her, so afraid that she would push me away.
She was asleep, flat on her stomach, facing me. She looked so beautiful, as always. Her blonde hair covered up some of her face, her mouth was partially open as she breathed deeply in and out.
God, I was such a fucking idiot.
Over the years, Spencer had never changed. She was still that gorgeous, caring, smart and strong woman that I had fallen, so fast and so hard, in love with. Now you could add, an amazing mother to that list. I always knew Spencer would be a great mom. Somehow she managed being Supermom, the perfect wife and her career as a college professor, all at the same time. I don't know how she did it, but it made me love her all that more.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate everything Spencer has done and I have never thought of her as anything less than incredible. It's me, whom I have lost all hope for. I had done everything in my power to push her away, yet she never left. Maybe Miranda was right, maybe she does still love me.
I looked over at my wife, sleeping so soundly, and couldn't believe she was still by my side. My hand reached over, without my permission, and moved the hair out of her face.
"I'm so sorry," I said to her. Of course, I had no problem saying that while she was asleep.
"I promise, I'm going to make everything right again. I'm going to make you happy again."
She stirred a bit, but then her breathing went back to normal. I lay there wide awake as the memories invaded my thoughts.
3 years ago…
I sighed as I put the last of my belongings into a box. Man, I was going to miss this place, this job, and the kids. I had just been let go, after 4 years, they just let me go. Apparently the music department was the first choice when the school board started making cuts. I argued, begged and pleaded, but in the end, it didn't matter. I was out of a job. I opened the door and reluctantly walked out. Leaving the job that I loved, and a big piece of me, in that room.
"Hey babe, are you alright?" She sat down next to me on the couch and slid her arm around me. Her sweet and comforting voice, soothing me like it always did.
"I'm still can't believe today was my last day." I leaned into her and she kissed the top of my head.
"I'm sorry, Ash. I know how much you loved that job and teaching those kids."
"I did. It's just not right, Spence. How can they say that music isn't important? To teenagers, music is life. Some of them couldn't live without it; they wouldn't know how to cope without it." I was getting worked up to the point that I was now up and pacing.
"I remember what it was like Spence, having to sit through those classes, algebra, chemistry, history; I remember how much I hated them."
She gave me a knowing look. She remembered how much I hated them too.
"And before I had your class, Music and Art were the only reason I even showed up. They were the only thing I looked forward to."
She raised her eyebrows.
"Okay, and some of the girls in those classes, but still… I wouldn't have went to school just for the girls."
She shook her head and stood up. Her hands rubbed my upper arms.
"I love seeing you so passionate about this. Maybe you should consider teaching privately again."
"It's not the same, Spence. Half the kids I taught privately didn't even want to learn, their parents wanted it for them. The kids in my classes wanted to learn, they love music, and they wouldn't be able to afford private lessons."
"Then teach them for free. Meet with their parents and get permission."
I smiled from ear to ear. Spencer understood me, like no-one ever had.
"That sounds like a great idea, babe. I don't own the club anymore but the Music Room is still mine. I suppose I could re-open it."
"Sounds like you have a plan then." She gave me a quick kiss, grabbed her purse and headed towards the front door.
"Where you going?"
"To the grocery store. I'm going to make your favorite meal tonight. Make sure you help the boys with their homework." She blew me a kiss and I winked at her.
Things were good for a while after that. At least until I decided to do a short summer tour with my father. I was aching to get on stage again and he wanted so badly to tour with his daughter. It was a three month tour but I only lasted a month. Although I loved doing the shows every few nights, I missed my family. Spencer, of course, was nothing but supportive, but she needed me at home. She would never say it, she didn't have to, and I knew it from the tone in her voice. She was tired and it seemed as though she was keeping something from me. I had to go home.
I just had to tell my dad and hope he would understand. One night, after a show, I went to look for him. I found him and to this day I still can't get the image out of my head.
3 years ago…
I ran as fast as I could back to the bus. The tears moving even faster down my cheeks. I opened the door and slammed it shut but it popped back open and he appeared in the door way.
"Ashley, let me explain," he whined.
"There is nothing to explain. You were there, with that woman, how could you?" I cried.
He shook his head, trying to find the words.
"Don't bother. Nothing you say to me right now would justify you cheating on your wife."
"Don't!" I didn't want to hear his excuses.
"It was just this one time, I swear."
"And that makes it okay?"
He put his head down and I shook mine in disgust.
"Who are you? Is this who you've always been? Is this what you do when you're on tour? You sleep with random women with no regards to anyone or anything else?"
"Since I've been married to Janet, it was only this once," he replied, tears now forming in his eyes. I looked away. I didn't care if he was upset.
"I'm leaving, tomorrow. I'm going home to MY wife. And you better go home to yours, and tell her what you've done."
"Don't call me that. I can't even look at you."
"You can't just leave in the middle of the tour."
"I can, and I am." I walked to the back of the bus and before I slammed that door shut I said to him, "Tell her, or I will."
I went home the next day. He didn't. He stayed on tour. After three months of seeing Janet, and keeping the secret from her, I told her. Things with my dad were bad after that. She forgave him, I couldn't. It wasn't just the fact that he cheated on Janet, that he betrayed Alyssa's mother, or that he tried to make excuses for it. It was the fact that he was too much of coward to tell her. It was the fact that he made me tell her.
It wasn't too much later that my mother showed up on my doorstep, begging for forgiveness, a second chance, and time with her grandchildren.
2 years and 4 months ago…
"What are we going to do?" I asked Spencer.
"What do you want to do? What does your heart tell you to do?"
"My heart?" I sighed and closed my eyes.
"My heart tells me to give her a chance to prove she's changed."
"And your head?"
"My head tells me that I'd be a freaking idiot if I did that. I don't have just myself to worry about now, I have the kids too and I won't let her break their hearts."
She was holding my hands and she gave them a gentle squeeze.
"You know that whatever you choose, I'll stand by you. If you want to give her this chance, we'll give her a short leash. She can see the kids, but they won't know she's their grandmother, at least not until we know for sure she is going to stay in their lives. And she won't spend any time with them, unless one of us is with her."
"I don't know, Spence. The whole thing scares me."
"I know, but everyone deserves a second chance, right? She's your mother, Ash. Can you really turn your back on her?"
I wanted to, trust me. But Spencer was right. She was my mother and I had to give her the chance to prove herself. It had been nearly a decade since I had seen her last. It was possible that she had changed, right?
A week had passed since she came back into our lives and she had been over to the house twice already. In the few hours I had spent with her, I saw a different woman. She showed care and concern and an un-forced interest in the kids. Especially, Alexander.
"He plays rather well by himself." She noticed.
"He'd rather play by himself. He doesn't like to be bothered."
We sat and watched as he put a 500 piece puzzle together. Yes, it was a big puzzle for a five year old. He didn't have any problem though.
"He sure is a smart boy, Ashley. Do you have him in any special classes?"
"Actually we do. But not the kind of classes you think. He is autistic, mother. He has Asperger's Syndrome."
Spencer had taken him to see a specialist while on was on tour. She broke the news to me when I got home.
"Oh, wow. That's too bad." I don't think she knew what to say.
"It's alright. He is an amazing boy." I looked down at my handsome son and smiled.
"How did you find out? Has he always been so good with puzzles?"
"Actually, yes, but not just puzzles."
I went on to explain everything that had happened. Like many people with Asperger's Syndrome, he was exceptionally well with numbers. At 3, he could count to one hundred. He would count everything, wherever we went, whatever he saw. By age 4, he knew how to add and subtract and that's when he started putting puzzles together. At first, just small puzzles and then gradually they got bigger and more difficult. We thought he was just super smart and a very different child. He was in fact, different. His interactions with his brother and even us, his obsessions over minor things, his need to have a strict daily routine and having a meltdown when his routine was disrupted, his knowledge of numbers and problem solving abilities at such a young age, all of these things had the doctors alarmed, as well as Spencer and myself. We had a hard time excepting it at first; we spent thousands of dollars on research. Finding a cure became a hopeless cause. Finally we learned to move on and forward as best as we could. We realized that even though Alexander would never live a normal life, he still had a great future ahead of him.
"He's an extraordinary kid. And you're right; he will do great things, Ashley."
I still had a hard time getting used to my mother this way. She had certainly changed a lot over the years.
"Yes, he will," I agreed.
"You almost done, bud?" I asked Alexander.
He didn't answer.
"Are you almost finished with the puzzle, Alexander?"
I repeated, this time in proper English. I had to remember that I couldn't talk to him the same way I talked to his brother.
"I am not finished yet. I still have one hundred and thirty two pieces to configure."
"As soon as you are finished, I need you to get cleaned up and ready for dinner."
"Yes, mother," He replied, his little fingers twisting and turning to fit pieces into place.
I looked over at my mother, who was looking back at me with a smile I had never seen grace her perfectly re-constructed face.
"I'm so proud of you, Ashley. You're a wonderful mother. I'm sorry that I was never the kind of mother you needed."
She started to cry and I found myself by her side, trying to comfort her.
I never thought I would hear those words come out of her mouth or me, by her side, trying to make her feel better.
As proud as I was, of my mother, in that moment, as happy as I was that she was finally trying to be the mother I had always wanted and deserved, I knew those feeling would not last. She was around for a little more than five months. Just long enough to gain the trust of me and Spencer…and leave a big dent in our savings account.
My mother needed money of course.
"I want a chance to get to know my family better; I want to spend more time with my grandchildren. But I'm not well, my dear. I have damaged heart valves. They need to be replaced and I have no money and no insurance."
After a visit to her doctor, we found out, she wasn't lying. I couldn't help but joke with Spencer about my mother's damaged heart and how I was surprised there was even one in there at all.
She was my mother though, and I couldn't do nothing. So I wrote her the check of course.
And she was gone the next day. She never showed up for her appointment. Apparently, her health wasn't that important to her.
I was fooled once again.
I felt like I was in high school again, with two parents who only cared about themselves, with two parents who continuously broke my heart.
My mother had taken something from me; she took away my trust in people. She had taken away the trust I had in myself.
I had a hard time dealing with her betrayal, especially considering how many times I told myself, I shouldn't believe her, she would just hurt me and my family.
I let her in anyway and that's exactly what she did.
I finally fell asleep a little after two in the morning and was up at seven. I had a lot to do in the next few weeks. Win my wife back, help plan a wedding, win my wife back.
Spencer was still asleep when I rolled out of bed. I headed downstairs and was surprised to find a groggy Miranda sitting at the islander, sipping on a coffee.
"You're up early."
"Mm," She mumbled quickly before taking another sip of her coffee.
I poured myself a cup and sat down next to her.
"So you think we can pull it off? A wedding, in two weeks?" I asked her.
"No problem. It's going to be amazing, Ash."
"I sure hope so, coz anything less would be a disappointment."
She shook her head at me, smiling behind her coffee cup.
"You gonna take Spence dress shopping with you today?"
"Did you tell her you wanted to have it here, on the lake?"
"She's okay with that?"
"Can I slap you if you say, 'uh huh' one more time?"
"Uh…uh." She took another sip of her coffee, walked to the sink and poured the rest out.
"Don't you think you should get started on breakfast? Spencer will probably be up soon."
"Uh huh," I replied. She laughed and threw a wet wash cloth at me.
"Well then, get started!"
I had just finished setting the table, a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, a plate filled with a Spanish omelet (her favorite), strawberries and melon, and a few lilies from the garden, were placed in a vase. I just had to wait for her, I knew she was awake, I could hear her moving around upstairs.
Miranda had taken Alyssa out for breakfast to give us some alone time.
I was so nervous. I wasn't sure how she was going to react. When she finally came downstairs and rounded the corner. I tried my best to smile but I think all I mustered up was an awkward stare.
"What's this?" She asked.
"I, uh." Great. I had resorted back to that girl back in high school, only able to form one to two letter words when she was near.
"Breakfast," I finally managed to spit out.
She gave me that strange look again. I had been getting that look a lot lately.
I walked over to her chair and pulled it out.
She slowly walked over and sat down.
"Wow, I…" She said quietly.
"What's going on, Ashley?" She asked, even quieter.
The fact that she even had to ask that made my heart hurt. I used to always make Spencer breakfast, nearly every morning. But she had every right to ask.
I sat down next to her and faced her, so many emotions being held back. I had to get this out. My fingers started twisting my ring again. I should not have been that nervous, it was Spencer after all.
She looked down at my hands and covered them with her own. I was so distracted by her touching me, the gesture, the warmth, all of the feelings, all at once, I just sat there staring at her hands.
"What's going on and why are you so nervous?"
I took a deep breath and told myself to stop being a coward.
"I know things haven't been good between us and… that's all my fault."
She let go of my hands and turned so she was facing the table, her eyes straight ahead.
I sighed and swallowed the big lump that was forming in my throat.
"This," I pointed between the two of us, our behavior. "This isn't right and… it's my fault."
"This," I pushed her plate towards her. "This is my way of trying to make things right again."
Her eyes stayed on the window in front of us and she stayed silent.
"A lot has happened. I have a lot to make up for. I have to start somewhere. Will you let me try?"
She finally looked away from the window and down at her plate.
"Is it a Spanish omelet?" She asked before turning her head and wiping her face. I think she was trying to hide that a tear had just fallen from her eye.
"Of course, it's your favorite."
"Thank you," She said with an ache in her voice.
I guess that was a start.
We ate mostly in silence, only talking about the upcoming wedding when we did talk. She was excited about helping Miranda with all of the details. That smile on her face, the tone in her voice, took me back to better times. I knew I never wanted it to go away again.
The three of them went out dress shopping when Miranda and Alyssa came back from breakfast. I got to work on some plans of my own for the wedding and also some plans to …woo my wife. It never used to be so hard to think of things. It just came natural to me. This time was different though. The situation was different. I sat at the table staring at the vase of lilies I had just put there hours before. The vase had been glued back together. I went back…
2 years ago…
"I'm going back on tour. It's the quickest way for me to make some money." She was filling a vase with flowers from the garden. The vase I had gotten her for our second anniversary.
"You didn't plan on talking to me about this first?"
"Spencer, I have to do it. We have no money in our savings. I talked to my dad's old manager and he has a spot on this small tour in Europe. I would only be gone for four months."
"Only four months? Four months is a long time, Ashley. Especially, when things have not be the greatest between us." She was noticeably angry and took a seat at the kitchen table.
"Exactly, maybe we need some time apart. I've been such a disappointment to you. Maybe I need to go away for a while."
Things had been bad between us since my mother took off with our money. I was mad and I seemed to take it out on everyone.
"No, what you need to do is stay here so we can work on everything. That's what a marriage is about, working on our problems, together."
"We need the money and I need to get away." The look on her face killed me inside.
"Is that what you really want? You want space?"
She was up in my face now and hers was beat red.
"You want to leave? You think that will help with our problems?"
"You're wrong. It will just make things worse." She backed away and walked towards the patio door.
"We need you, Ashley. Your family needs you. I need you." She wiped her tears.
"I know your mother hurt you. But I am not your mother. I love you. And I know she made you feel like a fool. But you're not a fool."
Suddenly she was walking towards me. She reached out and held my face in her hands.
"You… are an amazingly, beautiful woman. The fact that you forgave your mother and let her back into your life, it doesn't make you a fool, it makes you human. She's your mother, Ashley. Of course you wanted to believe her; of course you wanted her back in your life. I did too."
We just had this conversation not too long ago about my father. She said that he was an ass but she knew that he loved me. She always knew the right things to say. But it didn't matter. I had already made up my mind and I was stubborn.
"I love you too, Spence, but I have to do this. It will give me some time to think and I'll make up the money we lost in no time. I'll come home when I can and I will call every day. Your mom, dad and Glen promised to help out. I'm leaving in two weeks."
"So that's it? You've made this decision on your own and there's no way to talk you out of it? Nice, Ashley. And when did you talk to my family about this? This is just wonderful."
She went from crying to screaming, to hysterically laughing and then back to crying. She picked up the vase of flowers and started re-arranging them.
"If I stay here, I will just get more and more angry with myself and take it out on you even more. I have to make things right. I have to get the money back."
"I don't care about the stupid money, Ashley." She was so angry she threw the vase of flowers into the sink. It scared me and I think it even scared her.
"I care about you and about this family." She was suddenly calm but she was staring at the cracked vase in the sink and I knew it wasn't the only thing that had broken.
"I care about you and this family too, that's why I have to do this."
"I guess that's it then," She said, a mixture of anger and sadness in her voice.
She walked out of the room and barely talked to me for two weeks. I left for tour and things just got worse between us.
My way of making things right, was all wrong.
Not this time though.
Thoughts? Good or bad, I'll take them :)