-“So you went ahead with it anyway.”
Half question, half statement.
Paul heard his daughter`s voice on the line as he stood on the balcony of their hotel room. The warm breeze brushed against his face as he took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
-“Well…then I guess congratulations are in order then…”
Paul smiled. He couldn`t help it. He should have been mad. Furious even, but he wasn`t. Instead, he stood there smiling.
-“As much as I appreciate your best wishes, an apology would be nice too, Elle.”
Nothing but silence for a few seconds.
-“So…what is it about her, dad?” Elle asked. “What makes her any different from the rest of them?” His daughter, truly a Robinson, did not sound convinced.
Paul turned around, pulled the white curtains aside and looked over at his sleeping wife. She was lying on her side, facing him, one hand under her chin, the other on his side of the bed, almost as if she was reaching out for him in her sleep. Her hair was messy, her cheeks red, only a hint of lipstick left on her lips and the sheets only just covered half of her breasts. She was stunning! Absolutely beautiful. Breathtaking. His lover. His wife.
His wife. The thought of them finally being married made his heart jump a little, and it filled him with a childish joy that was hard to explain. A feeling too complexed to put into words.
His daughter`s voice pulled him out of his thoughts.
“She just is, that`s all!”, Paul finally answered, not willing to share the details on why right now.
-“Well, forgive me for not sharing your enthusiasm, but didn`t you once say that about mom as well? And Christina..and Lynn…and Reb…”
-“ Yes, yes!!! Point taken!”
Paul lowered his voice and turned away from the window, away from Terese, and took a step closer to the railing of the balcony. It didn`t feel right talking about his ex-wives on his wedding night.
“I`m gonna hang up now.” He said. “ Will you please just be happy for us? For me. We`ll talk soon, I love you.”
He hung up. At that moment he couldn`t care less about getting an apology. He knew he did the right thing, marrying Terese, and if the rest of the world couldn`t see that yet, not even his own daughter, then so be it. He didn`t owe them an explanation, they didn`t need to know what made it different this time, what made her different. He knew. That was enough.
He leaned forward against the railing and looked towards the sea. Even at night, only lit up by the moon, this place was beautiful. Down there, a little to the left, under a cling of palm trees, they had gotten married that afternoon. Not the way they had planned it, not even close, but it had been perfect. Perfect for them. It had been laughter, tears of joy, and most importantly, pure love.
Instead of a party after the ceremony, they had walked on the beach in their wedding attire. Terese had taken her shoes off, lifted her dress, and dipped her feet in the sea. He would never forget her smile and her laugh as a small wave made the bottom of her dress wet, or how her vail got caught in the wind when she ran towards him, and into his arms. Her kiss tasted like salt sea, and sun.
They had sat on the beach and watched the sunset, shared a piece of a wedding cake from their picnic basket before he put his jacked over her shoulders as they walked hand in hand back to the hotel. He had asked her to dance with him in their hotel room, and she had answered with a cheeky “huh-huh-huh”, curled lip and all. The Elvis reference had made them laugh all over again, just like they had done during the ceremony. Terese, dancing so close to him he could feel her heart beating, still in her wedding dress, barefoot, pulling him down for a kiss, and at that moment he knew that if the world were ending right there and then, he would be exactly where he was supposed to be. With her. Because she was different. She was the one.
At some point during all his failed marriages, the women had tried to change him. Change him “for the better” as they said, all for his own good. He had told Terese that last night, when he called off the wedding.
“I can`t be changed. I`m not good enough for you, Terese!”
She had looked at him, all teared up.
“Yeah. But I fell in love with who you are, Paul. Not who you could be! That`s the difference!”
And the more he thought about it, the more he realized how right she was. Not only did she know who he was, she knew who he had been, what he had done, the things he was still capable of, and yet..she loved him. All of him.
Whenever he needed to take a step back, she never pulled him back in. She waited until he was ready.
When he was unreasonable, she told him. Firm, loving, and straight to his face.
His relationship with Terry began to fail even before they got married. The lack of communication, the lack of trust, it had been there right from the beginning. Looking back, Terry had settled for Paul, while still being in love with Shane.
Terese… There was trust and respect between them from the very beginning, and when Terese finally admitted she loved him, they both knew their previous relationships were definitely over. Terese was different.
He had made many mistakes during the last months of his marriage with Gail, and he had paid for every single one of them, but to be fair, he worked as hard as he did back then to be able to provide for her and their unborn children. But Gail had changed, her priorities had changed, and by the time he had realized it, she was gone. She wanted nothing to do with him and refused to live close enough to let him be the father he had hoped to be.
Terese would never leave without saying goodbye, she would never take his children away from him. Just look at the way she managed to keep her own family together despite being let down in the worst possible way by Brad. She was different.
Christina was a safe bet. Harsh to think that about the mother of his son, but it was true. Although he wanted desperately for her to be the one, his “happily ever after”, it didn`t take many years to realize they were wrong for each other. He wanted a family; she wanted the husband she thought he could be. Not the man she married. His ambitions didn`t fit in with the homely family life she dreamed of. He got bored, she got upset, a vicious circle.
Terese was different. They wanted the same thing, they had the same thrive, the same ambitions. Terese would never bore him. She was his sparring partner, his business partner, and now, his partner in life.
Thinking about Lynn, he nearly laughed out loud. That time of his life was still pretty much a blur due to his brain tumor.
And then there was Rebecka. In with a bang, out with a bang. A toxic relationship, for both of them. Too different as people to last as a couple. He should never had let it get as far as it did.
Paul took one last glance at the sea before he turned around to walk back into their hotel room, but he stopped in the balcony door. There she was, still lying on the bed, with one arm to the side as she was still reaching for him.
She mesmerized him, his wife. His wife! The ceiling fan made a soothing sound, the room was bathing in the moonlight that shone through the white curtains, and in her sleep, she looked so peaceful, so happy. His queen was smiling. He lifted his hand to his face and ran his thumb over his lips. He could still taste her kisses from earlier that night and wondered if her lipstick had rubbed off on him.
-“Sealed with a kiss.” he whispered as he smiled, and walked towards the bed. As quiet as he could he laid down beside her and felt her arm around him as her hand reached for his, still asleep, yet fully aware of his presence.
He kissed the top of her head and nuzzled his nose in her hair.
Then and there, he quietly swore that one day, one day he would show the world why Terese and he would make it, why she was his fairytale ending, but for now, him knowing how and why was enough.
And as he fell asleep next to his wife, one thing was very clear to him. Terese is different. She just is, that`s all.