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What I Really Want

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When the article came out, Thomas by just about every copy at one of the News stands closest to the office. It was an exciting day for them all, Ashford & Hamilton were being profiled in another publication. There was something different this time, it was Hope that was being profiled.

He felt so proud of his wife. He thought about how it all started, there was no way to see this coming. He didn’t think that this was going to be his life, he was having casual sex with Hope. She kept protesting that she was with who she wanted to be, she was with Liam…

He really didn’t know the exact point of when that started to shift. When he first married her, she said that she was only there for Douglas. But her actions didn’t match her words. They were fucking like rabbits. She would act one way in public and completely different when they were alone. He had known that Hope gave a face for the public, he just didn’t know how far she would go.

When she was with him, she would want things that she never said aloud if someone else was in the room. It wasn’t even always about sex. It was when he started to see that she really didn't have any freedom to make choices in her life. She did what everyone else thought she should do. It was one of the things that made him angry when everything came out. She went right back to Liam even though she told him she lived to suck his dick.

It struck him as weird that she would still find ways to be in his orbit even though she was claiming that she only wanted her old life. She had only been doing things for Douglas. He thought it was a big time lie. He just knew that Hope was already to confront the truth. He didn’t know if she ever would. He was surprised when he found her at his door. He did something reckless and had sex with her without a condom. Even though they had still technically been married, they were separated legally. He was starting to live his life and she claimed that she was going to live hers.

He knew something was up when she was jealous about Hailey. He called her out on it and she didn't deny it. And she said that she wanted to be with him, he felt like it was BS. He told her he doesn’t do triangles and he wasn’t waiting. Least of all he was not going to wait for her to figure it out with someone like Liam.

He knew that he challenged her when he told her that he was leaving. He wasn’t going to sit around and play with his career; he had to take that leap of faith and take that job and see where it leads. Even though she said that she loved him, and he even told her he loved her back, he was a shrewd man, he was a practical man and somewhere inside him he had to doubt that she was coming.

It had been a pleasant surprise for him to see her packed up with Hope and Beth at his door. It was that day that started the real point in their marriage.

It was that day that they really became a team. She helped him with the business and had a real knack for it. He was so proud of her when she told him that she wanted to go to college. She wanted to be more knowledgeable and get a degree because that's something that she wanted for herself.

He appreciated having a partner that knew what she wanted. He always thought to himself there was nothing more attractive than being with someone who was just determined as he was. The progression of who she has become has been a beautiful sight for him to see. He’s gotten a front row seat to that.

It made him happy that Hope wanted to tell that in her story. When she was being profiled, she had insisted that she show her authentic self. She wanted to show her journey in how she got there. She didn’t wanna lie and say that she always had this degree and she was this Dynamo who had always been interested in this.

She wanted to be truthful because she didn't think that it was possible for someone like her to achieve what she had.

Hope could feel Thomas’s pride for her. Even though they had done the profile, it was about 3 months before it actually went to print. Publications always did stories like this well in advance. Sometimes they even had follow-up interviews if something big happened.

Hope felt like she was coming at her full circle moment. Her journey here was a long one and one filled with a lot of self reflection and doubts. She said as much in her profile.

She was the anxious mother of a toddler with self esteem issues. That’s how she started this whole journey. She knew that she had lots of help on the way. She knew that she couldn’t discount the fact that it is her husband’s company that she started in. But her hard work was her own, it willed her to try even harder. She lived in the world where everything was done for her, infantilized her… She felt like someone in a gilded cage. She had this illusion of independence and freedom, but it wasn’t real.

It wasn’t until she got a dose of the real world that she started to see that her life wasn't her own. Her independence didn’t exist. Being with her husband was a chance at that. Being loved but not smothered was a foreign concept for her, sometimes she was still disbelieving at that when she was first with Thomas.

But that changed, it changed when she really got to working. When she was dealing with so many people and Contacts, she really started to feel independent. She really had to start making decisions without calling to consult someone, when you were dealing with all these different people, they had to know what your answer was going to be because they had someone to answer to. It was the first time that she saw that she had real authority in something, people were waiting on her word.

There’s something incredibly intoxicating about that, you start to feel the responsibility of your actions… of your decisions. Having her degree, she had the coursework involved to know which decision to make at that particular moment. That’s what she said in her profile.

As she read it, there was brief mention about her mother and her ex-husband. She knew that because they were prominent people that of course their names would come up. She also wasn’t going to lie, she wasn’t going to invite gossip into the profile, she still wanted this to be a professional endeavor. She wanted people to know her journey into this business and the reaction to her success. However she didn’t mince words. She told them that she wanted to love her own dreams and not have them told to her. She didn’t want them to be decided for her. When the subject came to Liam, she just said that it wasn't a good marriage for someone like her to be in. She didn’t feel independent and it was not a direction she wanted her life to go in. That’s all she said to them and she moved on. She was glad that the interviewer didn't press her on that. It made her happy that this wasn't some tabloid looking for their gotcha moment.

“Is the article living up to what you expected?” Thomas had read the article himself; he was impressed that it seemed to be the direction that Hope wanted to have taken. But she had been silent the whole time. Longer than it would have taken to read the article.

“It's more than that. I feel like the interviewer went above and beyond to really capture the vision that I wanted for this interview. I didn’t feel like I’ve been exploited in any way or them misconstruing any of my words. I feel really good right now, at peace and people will know it. I really love what we’re doing and I’m so glad that we were lucky enough to make it. If this even helps one person believe that they are more than what they see in the mirror or value themselves more because they deserve too, then that makes me happy.”

It was one of the first times in her life where she felt like she didn't have to prove something. She always envied Steffy for marching to the beat of her own drum. She saw people around her taking charge of their life and she wanted that. She just didn’t feel brave at the time to do it, it's took a long time for her to realize that everyone goes at their own speed, sometimes you have to walk a mile instead of run it. It might take longer to finish the race but the most important part is that you do finish the race. It’s just as much an achievement. She didn’t have a problem being a late bloomer in life, sometimes you have to know what struggle or strife feels like… because when you get towards happiness come you have a newfound appreciation for it.

“I’m so proud of you, I mean not just because of the article. I just get so happy from seeing you loving what you do. And it’s not just about the job. I see you smile with your eyes and you sway in your step. I love you more than you could ever know, and your happiness means the world to me. I’m just so happy that you actually feel that happiness.”

Hope listened to her husband's words and some things about her don’t change. She still got emotional when he said things like this. How couldn’t she be? He was always so attentive about her feelings, it’s what made him a good dad. He would be with Douglas or Beth, he paid attention to them, played with them, nurtured them... But he also just let them be, sometimes she wanted to just be with them all the time and just love them. He told her sometimes you have to love them from afar sometimes, they know that you’re there if you need them but let them explore things that they like. He said that kids just want their parents to love them, they’ll pretend select things that you like because they don't want to disappoint you. Sometimes you have to let them discover what they like and support that.

When she thought about his approach, it was the same philosophy he had towards her. He gave her space to figure out what she liked and what she wanted, he told her that she shouldn't be making decisions because it's what she thinks he might want. He was just there to support her, she was going to be the one to have to figure out what she had a passion for, what she loved to do.

She just smiled at Thomas, she thought about who she was years ago. She would dream for marriage like this, but in reality, she would have ran from it. There’s something vulnerable about being independent yet in a relationship. She had a different concept of what loving someone meant, the expectations that came from it. It’s what made her so unhappy for so long, nothing was fitting into her designs, what she thought her life was going to be…

Now that she’s outgrown her misguided ideals of what a relationship should look like how much she could enjoy what her husband and family bring to her.

“I’m really happy I can feel that happiness too. I finally have what I really want. I have this amazing job… that I love what I do, I love my kids, but most of all Thomas, I love you so much. You taught me how to leap. Seeing you follow your dreams, that inspired me. It inspired me to start dreaming, start believing in myself that I could do things. And I know you’re gonna say that I did the hard work and I know that I did. But I needed inspiration, I need an inspiration so I could hopefully inspire Beth. I wanted to be someone, I want to be someone so bad because I want her to feel like I accomplished something, for her to be proud of me for being something. And I know it’s noble to be a good mother but to me I want to be that mother that her daughter believes that it is possible for her to do great things. Because she can see that within me. She can believe that dreams are attainable and that it is valid to have them because she sees me living my dream. It’s all I ever wanted, and I didn’t believe that it would be something that I had. I was one step away from retiring. Ultimately, I know didn’t work out with FC, but I was going to be the one to throw in the towel. I was going to give up, under the guise of wanting to take care of her, but it wasn’t really true. Not all of it. Steffy held my feet to the fire, she was making me accountable for align that I had my name on and honestly that was one of the first times in my life that I actually had that. I had real expectations on a professional front, someone was treating me as an employer would. It was very difficult to confront that, it was difficult to say that I didn’t have the answers. I almost ran away because I felt like a fraud. When I chose to be with you, I went with my heart. When I’m with you, I feel different, I feel as if I am more, I can want more… I’m allowed to expect more. Seeing you value your work, being a team with you. It felt like us against the world and I like that feeling. But I knew in order for me to keep doing it, I knew that I needed the tools and the education. Even though I knew I needed those things, I was so scared to think about going to college. I was afraid because I would be one of the oldest people in the class. Your pep talk meant so much to me, I want to be more for Beth, but I wrestled with the doubt and insecurity, you put me at ease. Your support of me allowed me to believe that I can actually do it. When I got in, I started to believe that maybe I can. I know you don’t need to give me taps in meetings anymore, look how far I’ve gotten but I loved them. I just think of them as love taps, encouragement. You don’t tell me what to do, you don’t tell me how to act or how to be... For someone who doesn’t know me they may be saying well no one should be treating you like that, but I used to be the girl who’s afraid of her own shadow. My successes are my own, but it’s really nice to know that you won't let me fall, you won't let me have egg on my face, at least not for long because you’d have a towel to give me so I could clean myself up. You nurtured our love when I really needed that. I have a life and never knew I could have, and I just want you to know that, I’m so thankful and lucky to be with someone who puts me first. I am the priority, but it is not to be controlled, you care for my well-being above anything else, but you don't abuse it. And that’s all I really wanted.”

Hope felt raw after telling Thomas everything she felt in her heart. She just went to him and hugged him tight, she just wanted to feel him, breathe him in.

“I love you for you, there’s nothing in you that I would ever change. I have what I really want too. I have you and all of you, just like you have me, and you will always have me.”

Thomas gave her a kiss. They had a lifetime to keep loving and supporting each other. And both of them knew in their hearts that they always would.