I step out of the car and shut the door behind me. I take five steps towards the door before turning back and telling Ray to go home. I have no idea whether I will be here for five minutes or five hours, but it is late and there is no need for Ray to sit around waiting. I open the glass door and make my way through the lobby to the elevator. It's amazing how excruciatingly slow, yet lightning fast an elevator ride can be. As the elevator doors open, I step out. I don't move though. I hear the elevator doors close behind me and I take a deep breath as I turn towards my destination. I've only been here a handful times over the years but I know this path like the one to my own home. I approach the door and as I stare at those three golden numbers, I summon all the courage that I have and remind myself why I am here and what's at stake tonight. I raise my fist and knock. I hear soft music playing inside and it suddenly occurs to me that I should have called before I came over. What if she's not alone? Maybe I should leave?
Before I can even move to walk away the door opens and suddenly she's there, standing in front of me. I'm speechless. Like truly speechless for the first time in my life.
"Harvey. It's almost midnight. What are you doing here?"
I feel my mouth open and even though there are a thousand words on the tip of my tongue, none of them want to come out.
"Harvey? Are you okay?"
When I still do not respond she reaches out and places her hand on my arm. Even through all the layers, my suit jacket, my shirt, and her sweater I can still feel the heat of her. The heat of us together has always scorched my world.
Her touch brings my focus back to her. My eyes slowly refocus, first on her luscious ginger locks. I still remember how it felt to run my fingers through those silky strands thirteen years ago and I ache to kiss her again and have those soft curls slide against my cheek. Which leads me to focus on her lips. She has already gotten ready for bed so her face is void of any makeup, but her lips are soft and kissable with just a touch of lip gloss. Most likely her / the strawberry flavored lip gloss one that she has used for years. The memories that I have of those lips, not just from thirteen years ago, but from last year when we kissed in her office. There hasn't been a day, an hour even, that I haven't thought about that kiss and how much I wanted to keep kissing her that night and every day since then.
"Harvey. Talk to me. You're scaring me."
My eyes snap to hers and I am sucked in, once again, to the beauty and extraordinary depths of her hazel eyes. I can see it now, all the things I never allowed myself to. A future with this amazing, perfectly imperfect woman. A life together. A family. A home.
She squeezes my arm a little tighter and I hear the fear in her voice when she calls out my name once again and it is in that moment that my voice finally starts working.
"Donna," is all that comes out.
"I'm here. Are you okay? Are you hurt?"
"No. I'm not okay. I mean I'm not injured but I am hurting."
"What's going on Harvey?"
"I'm sorry. I should have called first."
"It's fine Harvey. Tell me what's going on."
"I messed up Donna. Like really messed up and I don't know if I can fix it. But I have to try. I will never forgive myself if I don't at least try."
"It's the middle of the night Harvey. Can we deal with whatever this is at the office in the morning? You know, after I've had at least six hours of sleep?"
"It can't wait any more Donna. I'm already over a decade late in trying to make things right."
"If it's already been that long then what difference is another seven hours going to make?"
"Seven hours might not make a difference. Seven minutes or seven days might not make a difference but I can't wait. I need to know if I can make it right and I am running out of time."
"Fine. But at least come inside and sit down. Is this going to require wine or should I make coffee?"
"Probably something stronger to be honest, but I'd rather do this with a clear head."
Donna takes a seat on her couch and it is in that moment that I realize that everything is different. The furniture, the decor, the setup. Everything has changed. I can't sit though. I'm too wound up. I walk to the window and I can see the city lights outside and the reflection of her in the glass.
"Do you remember when I went to therapy with Louis?"
"Of course. With Dr. Lipschitz."
"Well I never told you this but I kept going. On my own. I've been going every week for months."
From what I could make out of her expression, she looked shocked that there is something I was able to keep from her. "I had no idea."
"I didn't want anyone to know. It's not that I'm ashamed of it. I just... I wanted to work on my issues and I didn't want praise or encouragement. I just wanted to do the work. No excuses, no judgments."
"I can understand that, but Harvey, I wouldn't have judged you."
"I know you wouldn't have. I just didn't want people to have expectations of me. I didn't want to feel rushed or pressured."
"Okay." She sounds relieved that I didn't keep this from her on purpose but that this was just something I had to do for myself.
"I had a session tonight and I really want to tell you about it."
"Okay." Donna nods in a way that tells me she is listening. The one, that also conveys compassion, love, and understanding. An understanding of who she thinks I am. But I am not the man she thinks I am. I have changed.
"I made a huge mistake Donna. And a part of me has known that it was a mistake since the moment that it happened. But the bigger part of me wouldn't allow me to accept or admit that. Or to even think about it to be honest. But working with Dr. Lipschitz has made me realize that in trying to avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else, I've caused even more pain than I ever would have if I had just told the truth years ago. If I just had the courage to tell the truth back then, I could have avoided so much pain."
"I don't understand. What did you lie about?"
"I didn't lie back then. Not really. I just agreed to something that I shouldn't have agreed to and I've been telling lie after lie ever since as a result."
"I don't understand. What do you mean?"
"I feel like the world's biggest hypocrite. I'm standing here about to do something that I swore I would never do. Something that I feel like I've judged so many people on in the past."
"Harvey, it's late and I'm tired and we both have to be at work in less than eight hours. Can we maybe get to the point?"
"I'm sorry Donna."
"There's no need to apologize, just tell me what's going on."
"You don't get it. I'm sorry Donna, so sorry. I'm sorry for tonight and I'm sorry for what I did all those years ago."
"What did you do Harvey?"
"I promised you something that I should never have promised, because I've never been able to keep it. Not for a single minute. No matter what I told you or myself."
Donna looks confused and maybe even a little bit angry. I don't expect that anger to disappear any time soon.
"You said that you would only come work for me if I agreed to put that night behind us. But I've never been able to do that. Not really. And I should never have agreed to do so.
I should have told you then that I wanted both. But I was scared. And I didn't want to lose you. I knew my history and when I knew there was a choice to make, I made the one that kept you with me. I made the choice to keep you by my side. I was trying to keep us both from getting hurt, but I just ended up causing us both a whole lot of unnecessary pain. What I should have done, was tell you that I was in love with you. That I have been in love with you for as long as I could remember. That you came into my life and changed it forever in the blink of an eye. That you made me a better person. That I didn't just want you there when I decided what kind of lawyer I wanted to be, but that I needed and wanted you there beside me. Because you make me a better man.
There will never be enough words to express how sorry I am for not telling you the truth that morning in the diner. For not being honest about what I wanted. For not telling you then what I'm telling you now: that night with you was the greatest night of my life. It always has been.
For not telling you that it doesn't just bother me seeing you with other men, it breaks my heart into a million pieces. For lying to you and saying that it doesn't mean anything when it really means everything. For telling you that I didn't want more, when I really wanted everything. For not being able to find the words to tell you how I love you. But I know now and even though I have the absolute worst timing in the world, you deserve to know too. I know you are with Thomas and that you are leaving with him. And this probably won't make a difference. But even if it changes nothing, even if you never forgive me. You still have the right to know the truth, because one thing I have always known, is that a person can deal with anything in life as long as they know what's going on.
But you can't make decisions or take action if you don't know the truth. I've lied to you over and over again for years and a part of me thinks you've lied to me, and to yourself, for just as long. So that's my truth Donna."
I finally turn towards her. She's looking down and I am close enough that I can see tear tracks on her face. It hurts me to know that I am the cause of these tears. But I hope, and pray, that in the end her tears will be happy ones.
"The truth is that I love you. I love everything about you. And I think I finally found the words to tell you how. I love you in all the ways that a man can love a woman. I love the way you light up a room, just by walking in it. I love the way you light up my world, just by being in it. I love the way you make my heart race. I love that you stand by me no matter how much I irritate you. I love you for never being afraid to call me out on my bullshit. I love you for never apologizing for who you are. Because who you are is everything. You are everything. Everything I've ever wanted. Everything I've ever needed. I love everything about you, even the parts that drive me crazy. I just love you. And no matter what happens next I just wanted, needed, you to know that."
I can't stop looking at her. Her gaze is still focused on the floor. It's quiet, too quiet. The silence is deafening. It lasts less than a minute but it feels like a lifetime. I need her to say something. Do something. Even if it is to tell me to go to hell. I need her to react.
"I don't know what to say Harvey. I don't know what you expect me to say."
"I don't have any expectations. I know I'm throwing you a curveball. I know you never expected me to admit any of this to you, much less tonight. And I feel horrible that I am doing it while you are in a relationship with someone else, especially after the way I treated you when I was with Paula. And I truly am sorry for the God awful timing. But so much has happened this year and especially in the past few days and I'm just tired of lying to you, to myself.
I know I've thrown a lot at you tonight. And I don't expect you to respond to any of it right now or even in the morning. I just wanted you to know. And I didn't want to do this at the office. I didn't want an audience and I didn't think you would want one either. Take as long as you need. You always know where to find me when you are ready to talk. I really don't have any expectations Donna. Hopes and desires yes, but no expectations. I know there's a huge possibility and probability that I waited too long. I don't blame you for moving on. You deserve to be happy Donna. That's all I've ever wanted for you. There's nothing in the world that I want more than to be the one that makes you happy, but if it's not me then I'll understand. "
"I really wish I knew what to say Harvey."
"It's okay. Can I just ask you one question?"
"Not sure I can answer it but yeah."
"After we kissed in your office, you said you didn't feel anything. Was that a lie?"
"Yes," she answers without a moment's thought.
"You were angry. You said you didn't want more. I just didn't want you to think that I was going to force the issue. I didn't want things to be uncomfortable, especially with you still being with Paula. I thought it would be better if we just put it behind us. And I thought that it would be easier to do that, if you believed I didn't want more either."
"I'm sorry. I'm so incredibly sorry that I've done this to you, to us. I should have told you the truth a long time ago. When we kissed in your office. When you told me you wanted more right before I started dating Paula. When you asked me how I loved you. When we were sitting in that diner. I should have told you then and we wouldn't be here now, having torn each other apart more times than I can count."
"You aren't the only one to blame Harvey. You should know that. I'm not innocent here. I'm guilty of lying and denying the truth over the years too. I once accused you of not fighting for what's in your heart, but I didn't really fight for what was in mine either."
I lean forward, press my eyes close and give her a kiss on the forehead. "I'm going to go. I'll see you at the office in the morning." I turn to walk towards the door. "Good night Donna."
The apartment is quiet except for the sound of my footsteps. I reach the door and take a deep breath before opening it. As it opens and I take my first step into the hallway, I hear her speak.
I don't turn around, but I know she's right behind me. I never heard a sound and don't know how she got so close without me hearing.
"I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being honest with me and yourself. I don't know what's going to happen next but I just wanted you to know that I'm grateful for you finally opening up to me. I'll see you in the morning."
I nod at her with a small smile. "See you in the morning, Donna. Goodnight." I hear the door close softly behind me as I make my way out of the building.
I was right to send Ray on home earlier. I definitely need a long walk. I'm not ready to go home yet so I end up in Central Park. Even in the middle of the night there are still quite a few people walking around. I see so many couples. Holding hands, talking, laughing. It hurts my heart to know that if I just had the courage to tell her years ago we could be here walking around just like that. We would have shared a lot of beautiful, romantic moments here over the years. Carriage rides and mornings in the park with our kids. But I waited, probably too long, and now it might be too late. She loves Thomas now and he is going to take her away to another city. Away from me. It was one thing to lose her to Louis or for her office to be further down the hall but this, this is different. She won't be at the firm anymore. She won't be in New York anymore. She won't be in my life anymore. The soul crushing weight of that is ripping me in two. I can feel it now, the onset of a panic attack. It's been years since I've had one. Not since she came back to me during Mike's case. Even when she left my desk to become COO, I knew she wasn't leaving me. I'm too far away from anywhere to sit down comfortably, so I just sit on the grass instead. Dr. Lipschitz has been working with me on coping mechanisms. He suggested that although I was not currently having attacks that I should keep something with me anyway. I reach into my coat pocket and pull out the little packet and pop the tiny pill in my mouth. I continue with the breathing exercises that we have been working on. Within a few minutes I was feeling much better. I stand up and continue walking. I end up in Shakespeare's Garden. I have never told anyone but over the years I have found myself in the Garden many times. Usually when I was thinking about Donna. For obvious reasons this place always makes me think of her.
The next time I check my watch it is after five in the morning. I hadn't even realized that it had gotten this late or that the sun is about to come up. By the time I get home it is right at 6:00 and I know that there will be no sleep for me. I have to be in the office at 8:00 so all I will have time for is a quick shower and shave.
As I enter my condo something feels off but I'm not sure what it is until I reach the living area and find an angelic redhead asleep on my couch. I quietly stand there for a moment, just taking her in. She has always had this simplistic, classical beauty about her. She has always been the most beautiful woman in the world to me. I don't know why she is here but I know that there is still a huge possibility that she could leave me, leave the firm. A huge possibility that two weeks from now I won't be able to see her face every time I walk into work. She won't sit next to or across from me in meetings. We won't share nightcaps at the end of a hard day. We won't sit in my office listening to my dad's old records thinking about the past. I just want to take a few minutes to appreciate everything about her.
Eventually I approach her and kneel down on the carpet, softly running my index and middle fingers through her lusciously soft curls before resting my hand at the back of her shoulder and whispering her name. She doesn't respond the first time but I gently shake her shoulder as I whisper it a second time and her eyelashes start to flutter and her eyes start to open.
"Hi," I say as I stand back up.
"Hi," she says as she sits up.
"How long have you been here?"
"A few hours I guess. I knocked when I got here but you didn't answer. I hope it is okay that I let myself in."
"Of course it is. That is why I gave you the key."
"When I realized you weren't here I sat down to wait for you and I guess I fell asleep."
"Yeah I walked home and ended up in Central Park. I lost track of time just sitting and thinking."
"What are you doing here Donna?"
"I'm tired Harvey. I'm so tired."
"I know. I'm sorry. If it makes you feel any better I didn't get any sleep last night either."
"That's not what I mean. I'm tired of all the lying, and denying, and hiding. I'm so tired. It's been exhausting trying to pretend like the feelings aren't there. Living each day as if what I wanted most in the entire world wasn't just a hundred or so steps down the hall or less than twenty steps for years before that."
"I'm sorry Donna. I truly am."
"I'm not looking for an apology Harvey. I want it to stop. Which means that I have to make it stop. It means I have to tell the truth too. So here is my truth. The truth is Harvey, that I love you too. I always have."
"What about Thomas?"
"I called him last night after you left and told him I can't go with him. I told him that it is over. "
"And us? Where does that leave you and me?"
"I've been waiting thirteen years to hear you say the things you said last night Harvey and in my heart I knew what was going to happen. What I wanted to happen next. But I needed time to wrap my mind around everything. The minute the door clicked shut behind you, my whole world shifted. I knew in that moment. I was on the phone with Thomas less than five minutes after you left. You were probably still on my street. Within thirty minutes I was in a cab on my way here."
"So what now?"
"Now I want what you want, EVERYTHING. Maybe we will get it right. Maybe we will screw it up. But what I know for sure is now that we have both admitted it, we won't know for sure unless we try, and if we don't try we will never forgive ourselves. I want this Harvey. I want you."
I reach out my hand and she takes it. I gently pull her up and in an instant we are holding each other tightly. I have one hand in her hair and the other on her lower back, holding her to me. She has both hands wrapped around me and her head on my chest. We both have tears in our eyes and huge smiles on our faces as we lift our heads and our eyes meet.
She pushes up on her toes, her shoes having been removed hours earlier and I lean down, the hand I had in her hair, now applying the slightest pressure on her neck to pull her towards me. Our lips meet and suddenly everything around us disappears and explodes all a the same time.
I've been waiting for this moment, this kiss, since she pulled away from me that night in her office. It's everything I wanted it to be, everything I hoped it would be, and so much more. The last kiss we shared was so quick and under extremely different circumstances.
When we slept together thirteen years ago things were different. We knew each other, were attracted to each other, and wanted more from each other than the other person was aware of.
But this is different. This is fifteen years of history. Fifteen years of want and desire. Fifteen years of denial. Fifteen years of heartache. Fifteen years of loving each other and having to hide it. This isn't just lust. This isn't just love. This is everything. We've been slow burning for a decade and a half. What happens next is going to burn the house down.
We eventually break apart minutes, maybe hours later, I'm not sure.
"As much as I would love to do this all day, we both need to get ready for work, which means I have to go home."
"Can't we just take the day off? We never take a day off. Can't they live without us for just one day?"
"Well I mean, I guess we could. We are very important people though Harvey. I'm sure some would miss us. Don't you have appointments today?"
"I'm sure I do, but I'm also sure that I don't really care."
"What? We have waited years for this. I am sure there is an associate who can handle the small things and a managing partner that can handle the bigger things. How about you?"
"I guess there's nothing that can't wait until tomorrow."
"Perfect. I'll text Louis and let him know we won't be in today."
"And I'll text Gretchen and let her know that we are not to be disturbed."
Less than thirty seconds later the texts were sent and Donna is back in my arms, exactly where she was always meant to be. After that it is a whirlwind of clothes hitting the floor piece by piece as I worship Donna like the Goddess that she is. I leave no inch unexplored, untouched, unloved.
Hours later, when I had shown Donna exactly how much I love, how I love her, several times over, we lay tangled in the covers. I am on my back and she is curled into my side, with her head on my chest. The curls of her hair tickling my cheeks remind me of my desire yesterday to feel that softness again. She fell asleep a while ago and I can hear even breathing and her steady heartbeat against my side and I realize that I have never been happier in my life. A feeling overcomes me and for a minute I don't recognize it, but then it hits me, it is peace. I'm truly happy and whole and at peace for the first time in my life.
I pull her a little tighter to me and press a kiss lightly to the top of her head before whispering that I love her. Moments later I drift off to sleep myself.
One Year Later
It has been quite a year. The best year ever really. Donna and I had dated for about three months before we got the surprise of a lifetime. She told me she was pregnant. I could not have been more thrilled. Three months later we got married in the backyard of my house in the Hamptons, overlooking the ocean.
Rachel and Mike were able to fly in to be our Matron of Honor and Best Man. They were six months pregnant at the time with their own baby, a little boy, who is now three months old. Ethan Zane Ross is the perfect combination of his parents.
Two months after the wedding we found out that we were having a baby girl.
Some people might say that everything happened too fast, but Donna and I knew that we had actually gone way too slow. Those closest to us knew that too. Picking a name for her had almost been too easy. We just named her after the people closest to us. The ones who had supported us not just as a couple but as friends for so many years.
I am sitting here now, beside Donna's hospital bed, with my two hour and sixteen minute old daughter, Michelle Elizabeth Specter, in my arms. My beautiful wife sleeping beside me. My whole world, right here, in less than 5 square feet of space. Donna did amazing during the delivery and our beautiful Princess Michelle is absolutely perfect. Seven pounds four ounces and twenty inches of absolute pure perfection. She looks so much like Donna. Porcelain skin, strawberry blonde curls, and the most beautiful little smile. I didn't think I could love anyone as much as I love this little girl. I knew I loved her before she arrived but when Donna handed her to me I felt like my heart would explode with love. When she opened her eyes it was like looking in a mirror. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that I had contributed to the creation of this beautiful creature and that the evidence of it was clear as day, right here in her eyes.
If someone had told me a year ago that this is where I would be today, that I would be married to the love of my life and holding my brand new baby girl I would have thought they were crazy. I thought that marriage and family were something that I wasn't meant to have. I was afraid to risk anything in love because I was afraid of getting hurt but sometimes you have to risk it all in order to get everything you could ever imagine.