She pulled away, panting. She realized, with a jolt of clarity, exactly what she was doing. It was a little after midnight on a Wednesday night, and she was in her office – not alone. BJ was on top of her, kissing her neck, crushing her into the couch under his weight. Both of their shirts had landed somewhere across the room already. His knee was wedged between her legs.
It felt like she was waking up from a dream. They’d been all tongues and teeth and pent up feelings, but now she was thinking clearly. She could stop this if she wanted. She could push him away and stop this. He’d go home and it would be awkward for 48 hours and then he would call and it would go back to the way it had always been.
Or she could keep going. She could let go of her fear and give them a fighting chance. Tomorrow would be different and awkward, but maybe that was good. Maybe tomorrow needed to be different and awkward so the next day could be better and less awkward. Maybe the days would get better and better. Maybe this was the beginning of their second chapter – or their second book – or second saga. She wasn’t certain anymore. Had their story ever really stopped?
He must have felt the absence of her nails on his back and her teeth on his earlobe. He pulled away, gulping his own breaths of fresh air, giving her just enough space.
It was cold. Dazed blue met clear brown, as he waited. He wanted this – that much she knew. She wasn’t sure he had ever stopped wanting it. His patience always astounded her – especially in moments like this. He had always been so great at not overthinking – not dreading her response before she gave it. He just waited and stared. He looked at her with hope and acceptance and arousal and love.
She stared back. The decision was made. She pulled him down to her lips, her desperation returning instantly.
Wednesday morning had dawned like every other one. She’d gotten up, and stumbled blearily to the shower. She’d gabbed happily in the make up chair and brushed her teeth obsessively as she shot two make – out scenes with Chris in a row.
She’d exchanged texts with Connor – he wanted to ask her about something, and they’d made plans to talk on the phone that afternoon. BJ had a meeting for his new screenplay at the time, but she’d promised with a quippy text to keep him in the loop. They’d learned that communication was vital to the success of their co-parenting a long time ago. Their texting had devolved into chat over his screenplay, and he’d promised that today would finally be the day that he’d share it.
Wednesday afternoon light poured in her office window and she struggled to find a place to sit where the light didn’t cast an offensive glare across her screen. She finally settled for the couch, and called her son.
The conversation began with a bashful, “I miss you too, Mom.”
They chatted, and he finally got around to his request. He wanted to go with Rick’s family on their Winter Break Ski Trip, rather than coming home.
No. Their families were flying in. They hadn’t had time with Connor in months. The answer was unequivocally, “No.”
The conversation ended with an angry “I hate you!” as he disconnected the line.
She’d gone back to set and shot more scenes, after that. Inside, she was torn apart, but she didn’t show it. She smiled and cracked jokes. She improvised perfectly, one hilarious line after another. She winked and smirked and flirted with ‘Danny,’ and she got a standing ovation when they wrapped or the day.
She sent the writers home early – hopefully convincing them with false bravado that they were way ahead of schedule – that they should all take some time with their families. They packed up. She promised she’d be right behind them. She wasn’t.
She sat in her office and allowed herself to cry. He’d never said that before. He’d never said anything like that before. She tried desperately to be rational – he didn’t mean it. He’s a hormonal teenager. The platitudes sounded whiny and hollow in her mind compared to his voice ringing in her ears – dripping with disdain and anger and hate. She didn’t think her son was capable of feeling things like that.
That’s how BJ found her. Sitting on her sofa in her dark office – staring ahead, tears slipping down her cheeks. She burst into sobs when she caught sight of him. He dropped the takeout bags in the doorway and scooped her up. She told him what happened between hiccups and sobs.
She fell asleep at some point after that. She woke up to BJ’s hushed angry voice. She looked around, but didn’t see him.
“Connor, I don’t want to hear it!”
He was in the hallway, and it sounded like he was telling off their son. She sighed. She’d deal with all of this tomorrow. She rolled over, pressing her face into the back cushions of the couch and fell back to sleep.
The steady tap of his fingers on the keyboard woke her up this time. He was sitting at her desk, writing. That was her favorite way to see him – so focused and smart and purposeful.
She sat up, sighing. He glanced up, but kept typing. She understood the look in his eye. He needed to finish his thought. She waited. The clicking stopped after about 30 more seconds.
They made eye contact again, and he eyes seemed different, suddenly. He looked at her like he used to – like she was a revelation. In her earlier years, she would have looked away, awkwardly smoothing down her hair. Now, she just smiled back.
She suddenly needed to be near him. She stood, before she could really decide whether or not this was a good idea. She rounded her desk and crouched behind him.
A younger BJ would have minimized the window with panicked haste, desperate to avoid her seeing his drafts, but this time, he just slid the chair over a few inches to give her room.
Love stories aren’t perfect anymore, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful. In fact, it might make them more beautiful.
This is the story of my love. I have known her for years. She has seen me at my worst, and at my best. We have screamed and sobbed together. We have faced death and we have brought life into this world together. She has been the most consistent force in my life – both for pain and for happiness.
She has been called by many names, but the most recent is my ex – wife, though calling her that pains me, both because the tiny “ex” at the beginning is a constant reminder of what we lost, and also because “wife” never seemed like enough. Is there a word to describe someone who is simultaneously your biggest supporter and your most constant source of joy? Words seem cheap in the face of something like that.
I have always been a lover of words, but this seems to be the one area of my life in which I am content to be left speechless. When I am forced to title her in my mind, I simply refer to her as ‘my love.’
So, here we go. This is the story of my love.
She stopped reading. She dragged him out of the chair and back to the couch. She wasn’t sure when they started kissing or shedding their clothes, but she didn’t want to stop.