Worth The Ride (M/L,AU,Mature) Part Three-Conclusion 9/3/09

Finished stories that feature the characters from the show, but there are no aliens. All fics completed on the main AU without Aliens board will eventually be moved here.

Moderators: Anniepoo98, Rowedog, ISLANDGIRL5, Itzstacie, truelovepooh, FSU/MSW-94, Erina, Hunter, Forum Moderators

Locked
User avatar
Behrsgirl77
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 629
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:21 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
Contact:

Worth The Ride (M/L,AU,Mature) Part Three-Conclusion 9/3/09

Post by Behrsgirl77 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:10 pm

Title: Worth The Ride

Author: Tanya

Category: Dreamer AU w/out Aliens

Rating: Teen/Mature

Summary: Sometimes life is worth the ride and finding love again is worth waiting for.

Disclaimer: I do not own any rights to Roswell or it’s characters. I just like to take them off the shelf and dust them off from time to time.

A/N: I wanted to write a story about the gray areas in a relationship...the ones we are sometimes quick to let slip away. Also if you are not one to keep an open mind...I suggest you stop reading now. And as if I truly need to say this after 5 years of writing on this board this IS dreamer insured.

Special Author's Note: This story is long awaited by one very special person, who allowed me to take my time in delivering this story to her; which she won for the Support Stacie Author Auction. Aurorabee this ones for you girl! And finally, I must thank Raychelxluscious, Itzstacie and Hunter for their assistance on this... Hunter for patience...Raych for banging this one out for me and Stacie for her unwavering support no matter what subject matter I write about.

Image


PART ONE:
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO WRONG

My eyes wander around the room. I know he’s here somewhere. It comes as no surprise for him to be here either, even though he bowed out of being in the wedding party. He had to know how much it would have upset me to be at the altar with him. I wish that I were stronger and could have nonchalantly said, I don’t care if he is or not, but I’m not and deep down I resent the fact that even though we haven’t been together in years he still knows me so well.

Finally after a thorough scan of the room, my eyes land on my best friend, a girl I’ve known since we were three. A woman who stood up beside me at my very own wedding nine years ago.

Had it truly been that long? I quickly do the math in my head and sadly realize that it has been. In exactly fourteen days, I would have been married to the love of my life for nine years. That was then, now, I am a separated woman of thirty-two and still trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.

Maria’s smile is infectious as she crosses the room to stand beside me. “Hi Liz, you did good! And you thought you would pass out…seriously, come on now.” Maria always knows when I need uplifting. It seems as though I have difficulty smiling nowadays.

I watched my best friend walk down the aisle not more than two hours ago, and I still am struck by how beautiful she looks. She is beautiful, but today there is an extra bounce in her step and I guess that makes sense. Today she is a bride. Today nothing can go wrong. Today is the beginning of the rest of her life. She will belong to someone forever, and she looks as happy as I know I did on my own wedding day.

I let my mind wander while Maria tells me how great the food is, and how she can’t wait until we get a taste of the cake. But I can’t help but linger on the “forever” part. Would they last forever? I really do hope so. But weren’t Max and I supposed to last forever too?

“How about we take a stroll outside? You look like you need some air,” Maria states while taking my hand in hers. I stumble absentmindedly while shuffling along beside her.

I can’t help but think about where he’s at. I have avoided seeing him all night. At first, this morning, I wanted to see him. To reaffirm to myself that I felt nothing more for him.

However, now as the day progresses I’m not so sure I can see him. No amount of pep talks can really prepare you to see the person that not only broke your heart but who regardless of how many times you tell yourself ‘you’re over him’ you know deep down that you are not.

It truly shouldn’t bother me that I hadn’t seen him while I was standing at the altar watching our best friends marry. And I damn well shouldn’t have worked on a speech to him last night, contemplating our awkward meeting.

Because it didn’t matter.

Not anymore.

“How are you holding up?” Maria asks in a soft voice. The cool breeze outside was typical for late April, but to me it wouldn’t have mattered if there were snow on the ground. I feel disappointed, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why that emotion above all others is manifesting itself now.

“He’s here,” Maria whispers. I turn towards her, her eyes hold a deep-seeded knowledge of me, and of my true feelings. I can hide nothing from her.

“I don’t care.”

With a sympathetic smile, Maria leans in and places a kiss on my cheek and whispers before pulling away, “I know.” With that she turns and walks away, probably to join Michael, her husband.

It takes me a moment to get my bearings. As much as I thought I was prepared to face him, I know without a doubt that seeing him again after so long will be another cross for my broken heart to bear.

Not that my heart is broken anymore.

The past was the past and I am an adult who can handle her emotions. I bet that when I finally face him, I won’t feel a thing; it is all in my mind. I am putting far too much importance on such a chance meeting.

My body stiffens as I hear someone approach. I don’t know how but I just do.

It’s Max.

Above the roar of my heartbeat, his footsteps are so soft. I shouldn’t be able to hear them, but I do. Maybe I will always be aware of him and maybe that is something that would never go away no matter how much I hate him.

He is standing directly behind me now. He doesn’t speak and I wonder if he is breathing, because it seems as though all the air has been sucked from the atmosphere around us.

Swallowing hard and turning with a boldness I didn’t know I possessed, I face him.

It is devastating.

He is still devastatingly handsome. His golden brown eyes fix on me and I can’t help but allow myself to take him in. The dark raven hair looks newly clipped, his long lashes fan around his eyes perfectly, and his emotionless lips are still perfectly shaped and still look completely kissable.

My eyes snap back up to his eyes, and I straighten my posture. He still towers me but I lift my chin to give me a few more inches.

“Max,” I say.

There I said it, and I am quite surprised by how powerful and emotionless it sounded, just as I practiced.

But oh…oh, he is just staring at me, the way he always had. The way he had the day he broke my heart into a million pieces. If that wasn’t a good enough reminder of who he was, then nothing would be. Again I tell myself it doesn’t matter how he looks at me.

We are the way we are because of him.

But then he does something that nearly brings me to my knees, something that I had foolishly willed my mind to forget…

He speaks my name.

The sound of his voice when he says my name, I tried to erase the way it makes me feel.

I am at a loss.

This is one thing I can never take away from him.

He repeats it, “Liz.” And I find myself lost in the world of what was, what could have been and what currently is.

We are not together. That is what I am reminded.

And it feels…all wrong.

****

It had been one of the longest days of my life. Exhaustion was a feeling that had coursed through my body three hours ago. Now all I feel is bone deep aching in every part of my body.

Sleep.

I need sleep, but all I could schedule into my day was four hours. It was already past two in the morning.

Max was probably sleeping and I hate that I missed our anniversary, but I had an important meeting with clients that flew in for the day. So I really didn’t have any choice. Max understood of course, he always did.

When I swing open the front door, the first thing I notice is that the lights in the living room are on. Maybe Max had stayed up, it was very thoughtful and even though I know he has a long day tomorrow, I feel special that he waited up to see me.

Suddenly I felt an aching of sheer and utter fatigue in every muscle, but I force it to the back of my mind. I smile as I walk further into the house, across the entrance way and follow the light around the corner into the living room.

I figured I would find Max sitting, waiting for me; instead there was a table full of roses: red, white, pink and yellow. There were candles that had burned out many hours ago and the smile on my lips dies.

I forgot to call him.

No, I remember specifically leaving my meeting this afternoon to go to my office and call him to explain about tonight. I had done it, I am sure of it. I reach for my purse and pull out my phone…thirty missed calls. I ignore them and search my call log…not one to Max.

Panic settles, replacing any weariness and I notice my hands shaking. My cell phone slips from my fingers and hits the plush carpet with a soft thud.

Retracing my steps I remember excusing myself during lunch and walking directly to my office, I pulled my cell phone from my top drawer and…and…

I was interrupted by Jamie, my assistant. I took another call and left my phone on my desk, rushing out realizing that I had left the meeting over a half hour ago.

Max wasn’t waiting up.

Max was fast asleep.

My anniversary present was sitting on my pillow.

A diamond rose necklace and a card that said how much he loved me.

I not only skipped out on our anniversary but I missed all of my husband’s worried phone calls.

I don’t know how to ever make up for all that.

TBC...

Part Two of Three to be Posted Next Thursday
Last edited by Behrsgirl77 on Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Behrsgirl77
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 629
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:21 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
Contact:

Re: Worth The Ride (M/L,AU,Mature) Part One 8/20/09

Post by Behrsgirl77 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:50 pm

A/N - It's Thursday and lookie I have an update! And a new story which I will be posting shortly :) I just wanted to say that all who took the chance and read this, thank you really and truly. It's not the lightest stuff to read, I know this but that you allow me to indulge and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Raychelxluscious- my love...Riley and I both thank you for editing these parts :lol:



destinyc – That’s very true, it can only get better because in the end I am a dreamer.
Alien_Friend – I think that was the driving force behind this one; why do we have to wait until we’ve lost what we love the most to really take notice. Life isn’t perfect and neither are my characters that’s why I love writing.
behrlyliz – Yeah I miss this board and I’ve stayed away too long. I have a few things I’m working on hope to see you around.
Hunter – Thank you the banner is all mine...just something simple and clean. I’m rusty. I’m trying to get in the habit of writing again...I miss it!
tequathisy – Excellent that you pointed out why Max didn’t call her on the work phone...I didn’t mention it because my thought process was; he would have tried there first and had in the past but he got no where there. And in this being a short story a lot of assumptions have to be made...hope that makes sense. P.S. I’ll have your banner tomorrow :D
spacegirl23 – Thank you! I’m glad you gave it a chance.
begonia9508 – hugs sweetie! I completely understand. And I began to write this story months ago to be honest and my head and my heart were in different places this is what came of it.
keepsmiling7 – Hey you! Yes I know it’s surprising and I have a new story I’m posting tonight as well so more of me to go around.
kismet – Thank you. All I can say is it gets worse before it gets better...but that’s life right?
mary mary – hmm... my dear what -do I do every time? I hope that is a good thing...haha!
kay_b – my love! How are you? I miss you! Yes it’s me you are not losing your mind. And very perceptive as many here, Liz hasn’t been living up to her own standards for Max, but people seldom do. As far as the answer to your many questions, they will be answered very shortly. MUAH!
Aurorabee – hey sweetie! I was TRYING hard to write you a happy go lucky fic...but it wasn’t in me so thank you for giving me free reign on this one. It was something I had been wanting to write for a long time. And no worried I have your other treat in the wings. Enjoy!
Lurkers - Even if you don't post...if you're reading I hope you enjoy!


One last important thing...the only part of this that takes place in the present is this beginning section...I have marked off the past with a new 'heading'...I'm sure you would understand but just in case!



Part Two- The Present


ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? PRETENDING IS HARDER THAN EVER



“How are you?” I find myself asking and I watch as his jaw tightens; he has something on his mind but he’s holding back.

It’s funny that I can still read his face so well, as if no time at all had passed.

“I’ve been better,” he responds and then says, “How about you Liz? How are you?”

Ignoring the feeling that what I’m about to say may sound a bit rude, I respond, “I’m doing great.”

Max nods and narrows his eyes for a moment before turning to look just over my shoulder. If I wasn’t watching him so carefully I would have missed the small shake of his head.

“I’m really happy to hear that. All I ever wanted was for you to be happy.” I’m not sure why he is talking about happiness when he in fact is the one who caused me to be so unhappy.

But…his voice sounds almost sad.

Feeling boldness inside me creep out again, raising my head to look at him, I ask, “Are you happy, Max?” A part of me doesn’t really want to hear that he is; it might be shallow but I want him to still miss me. I want him unhappy.

Just a little.

“I haven’t been happy in a long time, Liz.”

“Whose fault is that?” I am quick to retort, bitterly.

He looks at me for a long moment and then says, “It’s mine, Liz. It’s all my fault.” A small smile filled with something I cannot put into words plays on his lips before he turns and walks away.

I stand there a long time, in that place, feeling alone all over again. I wrap my arms around my waist and take in a deep breath and for just a moment, a fraction of a second really, I think that maybe I might have contributed to our downfall.

Maybe my part in our divorce might have been much larger than I ever realized.

Or maybe I always had, but was too hurt by his betrayal to allow myself to see.

Pretending that he doesn’t affect me is harder than I thought. And pretending that I still don’t care is even more difficult, but the hardest part…the one I’m not ready to face is how much I still want to be with him.


WHERE IT ALL FALLS APART - THE PAST



“I don’t understand why you have to work so hard, Liz. You’re never home and when you are you sleep.”

“Well, I’m sorry that you can’t handle it. But I have to do this!”

Running a frustrated hand through his hair, I watch as my husband paces. I see the set features of his face, knowing what was coming next. We had been having the same argument for months.

It was an old story already.

“We have enough money, Liz. I want you to do what makes you happy, don’t get me wrong. But what do I get? When do I get my wife back?”

It had been an especially long day for me, and now having to come home at nearly midnight, I wasn’t in the mood for this conversation…or argument which is what it would end up being in a few short minutes.

“You’re rich, Max. I’m not. Until I started working, all I did was clean the house and shop and cook dinner.”

“You never complained. You always seemed happy…are you happy now, Liz? That’s all I want. All we do is fight and—”

“We fight, Max, because you can’t accept the fact that I have job and I’m important.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? You’re important to me! You are the most important person in my life. Everything I do is for you. For us!”

“I need this, Max. Why can’t you understand?”

“I would understand better if I saw my wife for more than thirty minutes a day. Or maybe if I could take her out to dinner once in awhile, and spend time with her…make love to her.”

And there was the crux of it all; I just knew it would come down to this.

“And so we get down to the real reason why you’re pissed off.” He looks confused but I am beyond tired, and I don’t want to force the conversation any longer.

“Sex. So that’s what’s important to you in all of this? When we’re going to have sex?”

Max stood looking angrier than I’d ever seen him. “Out of everything I’ve said, you picked that out? Is that what you think of me? Damn it, Liz. Do you even care that I’m right here and you don’t even see me? No matter how busy I was at work, if you called I came. I never left you out in the cold. I never made you take a back seat.” He pauses and comes to stand in front of me, leaning down and kissing the top of my head.

“I’m sorry. You can do whatever you want. Whatever makes you happy. If working fourteen hour days and never seeing me is going to make you happy, then I won’t stop you.”

Just before he steps out of sight, he calls out to me. I turn to face him.

“Yes?”

“I love you just the way you are, I hope you know that. You don’t have anything to prove to me.”

I never felt more disappointed about myself, than I had in that moment, knowing that I had shut my husband out of my life completely.

There was no room for him, and I didn’t know how to make him fit anymore.
****
“Tell me, how much do you love me?” I ask as he pulls me down onto the blanket. The clouds have just passed over the sun, so I lie back against his chest and take in a deep breath.

“I love you more than you’ll ever know, Liz,” Max says pulling me tighter against him. I smile as I lean up and kiss his lips.

“You just say that, but how do I know?” We have been playing this game for years, but today it seems so serious.

Without another word he pulls me beneath him, opens my dress slowly and kisses me with such sweet force that my whole body shivers.

It is at that moment I feel the first raindrop hit my skin; he doesn’t stop though, even when it begins to rain heavily.

“I’ll protect you. I’ll love you. I’ll never let you go,” he whispers as he joins his body with mine. Our bodies moving as one. My whole being focused on his body and mine, joined, perfectly.

The way it always is with us.

I know from this moment on, if I hadn’t known it in my heart before, he is the one I want to spend my whole life with.

On my wedding day, I will put on my white dress and walk down the aisle to meet him. To marry him. To be with him, forever.

“What are you thinking?” he asks later, after the rain has stopped and we are walking to the car, hand in hand.

“Just that I’m so happy.”

“Yeah? And how do I know?”

I stop and turn to wrap my arms around his waist; I look up into his eyes and say, “The same way I know how much you love me.”

He smiles, that perfect beautiful smile and kisses my lips, then the tip of my nose and goes down on one knee and says, “I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to wait, but I can’t wait any longer. Marry me, Liz.” He asks, pulling a ring from his front pocket and asks me again, “Marry me. Love me. Forever.”

“Forever,” I promise as I lean down and kiss his lips and I know without a doubt, he and I will always be.
****
“I have to tell you something and I don’t want to.”

I truly do not have time for this . I am exhausted and still have another two hours of work to finish before I get to bed. Couldn’t he understand? Just a little longer and I will have more free time.

Time to sleep.

Time to listen to him.

Time to participate in day to day things with him.

“Max, can we do this tomorrow?” I say, walking through the house, peeling off my clothes. I make it to the bathroom in time to hop in the shower without Max protesting.

But when I get out, I see him standing before me – his face is all wrong.

My heart begins to beat wildly in my chest.

“The last thing I meant to do was hurt you,” he says but the words haven’t truly registered.

I don’t know what he’s talking about. I ask him.

His voice cracks, something I have never heard. I step back from him. He steps forward.

“I love you. You are beautiful and all I ever wanted. Ever. Liz.”

“Max, what’s wrong?” I say, my voice, I have noticed, shakes lightly.

He looks away and then back, and when he does I am devastated. There are tears.

And I know. I just know the one thing I never thought I would have to think about when it came to Max, has just landed at my feet.

“I…I’m so sorry, Liz. So sorry. I don’t even know how to say it.”

I force the words past my lips: “Just say it.”

“I slept with someone.”

I feel my heart break.

A thousand irreparable pieces fall around me.

This cannot be happening to me. To us.

He would never. Could never cheat on me.

He loves me.

He said he would always love me.

He said he would always take care of me.

He loves me from head to toe.

That was a lie.

It was all a lie.

“You’re telling me you cheated on me, Max? Then you can pack your shit and leave! I never want to see you again. Ever!”

“God…Liz, please just let me explain.” He reaches out to me, but while I allow the touch, knowing it will be the last one I’ll ever feel from him, I don’t move.

“There isn’t anything you can say that will make me change my mind.”

He pushes his hand through his hair roughly and tears actually fall from his eyes. For a minute I think to let it go. Forgive and forget.

But I can’t.

I was his one and only.

I am his wife.

I was his wife.

We are over.

“If you’re going to apologize, don’t bother. You shouldn’t have done anything to apologize for in the first place.”

“Liz, just let me…”

I am surprised by how calm I sound. The worst has yet to hit me. “Let you what? As far as I’m concerned this conversation is over, just like we are.” I tear my arm away from his hold and storm out of the room. I throw a bag on the bed and begin packing for him.

“Wait! I was so wrong, Liz…so wrong and I know you can’t forgive me right now but…”

I halt in my movements. “Right now? I don’t think you understand, so I’ll make myself clearer. I want you gone. I want you out of my life. I want you to pack the rest of your things and leave tonight. Immediately. I want to never hear from you again except through our attorney’s.”

He stands there looking defeated and … God help me, like a man who has nothing left in the world worth living for.

But I don’t care.

“That’s it! You’re just going to throw it all away? You’re not even going to give me a chance to make it up to you?”

I move around the bed, come to stand in front of him. His eyes are hopeful.

“You can’t make this up to me. You can’t erase the memory of you sleeping with someone who isn’t me. And you sure as hell can’t blame me for throwing it all away…you did that, Max. You did that the moment you fucked someone else! I want you gone by the time I get back.” I turn to leave the room, but his pained voice gives me pause.

“Liz…”

“Goodbye, Max.”

TBC...

Part 3 of 3 to be posted on Thursday. Also...those of you who don't know I posted a new story on this board called: Standing Still - I hope you'll give it a read. Thank you!
Last edited by Behrsgirl77 on Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Behrsgirl77
Obsessed Roswellian
Posts: 629
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:21 am
Location: New Jersey, USA
Contact:

Re: Worth The Ride (M/L,AU,Mature) Part Two 8/27/09

Post by Behrsgirl77 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:31 pm

A/N - And so we have come to the end of the road with this one. I wanted to thank Aurorabee for giving me the opportunity to write whatever I wanted for her; I just hope she's not disappointed it wasn't fluffy LOL!! Secondly, I want to thank each of you for not only reading; but keeping that open mind I asked you to keep before reading this. I know it's a touchy subject and I know that not everyone will agree and that's how it should be; but that it maybe made you think for even just a moment...then I've done what I set out to do and thank you for allowing me that freedom.

AlysLuv – While I agree with you to a point, cheating is cheating...we have to be open to the whole picture as well.
Alien_Friend – I’m happy to see how you break it down, excellent.
Natalie36 – Yeah it’s just not pretty!
destinyc – We—I had to go there because I think I wanted to bring another perspective into things and keep it real.
keepsmiling7 – Carolyn, I am glad you ALMOST understand...and if they want it to work they are going to have to start somewhere.
mary mary – Good to hear you are happy seeing my name and the fact that you print out my stories to read whenever...well I can’t tell you how
complementary that is for me to hear. And I am updating as promised!
kismet – I could not have said it better myself; they have a foundation where they go from there is up to them.
begonia9508 – Max did choose the easy way...in a sense but to me in this story, it’s more than that.
tequathisy – Yes, again you are correct. Liz was wrong; as was he, but when do we stop the blaming game?
kay_b – haha! Yes only three parts...my dreamer heart can’t drag it out any longer. And both of them are at fault which is exactly what I was trying to tell by writing this story.
LilLoucfer – Exactly! Marriage is not one-sided and both people need to be there, in the moments; otherwise what is the point?
Aurorabee – So now as I think back I wonder to myself; are you really happy you won me as an author? LOL! Love you too sweetie!
sarammlover – Ahh yes Sex in the City loved the movie by the way...sadly that movie didn’t do anything to show how a couple can get “back” to where they were or someplace different. I hope my story does not leave the reader wanting.
abbs007 – Hey strannnger!
POM – First of all I am very sorry to hear about your situation. I agree Max did slip up and make a huge mistake but it’s what comes afterwards that truly will determine the outcome.
Janetfl – Thank you. I am glad you are able to see exactly what I’m trying to get across, it makes me quite satisfied by haven taken the time to write it.
spacegirl23 – You hit the nail on the head! Pushing the envelope a bit,
I might even assume he loves her more than she loves him
.I didn’t know if anyone would catch on and despite the fact that he cheated, the underlying feeling I was trying to get through was despite it all...despite his sin deep down I was trying to get Max’s feelings across even though this is strictly from Liz’s POV.
linliz68 – yet another strannnger from my past LOL! You are correct neither of them are happy...without each other.
Lurkers - if you're out there...thanks for reading!

Here we go...


Part Three


THE DRIVE IN...WHERE IT ALL BEGINS...AGAIN



He’s left the party already. I asked around and I feel my heart sink because I honestly don’t even know where he lives. I keep my distance, as does he.

I rummage through my bag, searching for my cell phone. Everyone I know was here, so I didn’t need it locked to my side. Maria and Michael left thirty minutes ago and people are still milling around. I need to get out of here.

I need to find him.

Finally pulling my phone free, I search through…I didn’t delete his number, just his name. I also erased the number from my memory.

That’s a lie. I know it by heart. I dialed it every day for over a decade. But I tell myself I forgot it and search.

I press send and then listen to the ringing.

He answers on the fourth ring.

“Hello.” His voice is hesitant, unsure and I’m positive he must think someone stole my phone and is calling him. Surely, it wouldn’t be me calling him.

“Hi, Max. It’s Liz,” I add for good measure, and a soft laugh escapes his lips and I hold back a sigh; I miss his laugh. Small or otherwise.

“I know who it is. Is there something wrong?” he asks, sounding so concerned I nearly cry. I grip the phone harder hoping it does not snap in half.

I shake my head - though he cannot see me. “No,” I say.

“I need to talk to you. Can you meet me at the old drive in?” I ask, and he doesn’t respond right away.

I know why.

It’s the last place on earth he would think I’d ask him to meet me at.

The scene of our first date.

“Okay.” Is all he says before I hang up.
****
How fitting, the radio is playing our favorite song, well not really but three songs later and our song is playing.

The melody from The Cure’s- Love Song- plays out in the deserted lot around us. I lean against the hood of Max’s car. He stands beside me just breathing. He barely moves.

Now is as good a time as any.

“I asked you to come out here for a reason.” I see him nod, I think he already knows but I say it aloud anyway, “Why?”

I don’t have to elaborate; he knows exactly what I’m referring to. He looks away for a half a second before stepping closer and turning to look down at me. “For a long time I didn’t have an answer. I know that doesn’t sound good, but I didn’t. Because for a long time I couldn’t believe that I had done that to you…to us. But I did. I can’t tell you with words how damn sorry I am for doing it, Liz. I can’t take it back, no matter how much I wish I could. I won’t make excuses. It wasn’t because I didn’t love you anymore, never that.” He swallows hard and I notice his eyes grow moist in the moonlight.

“I missed you so damn much. You were right in front of me, but I didn’t have you, I couldn’t. You stopped talking to me. I tried to figure out a way to get through to you…but I thought maybe you just didn’t care about me anymore. Maybe we’d had our run. Things were taking their natural course but damn it, I didn’t want it to end! I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life…but I started to think that maybe you didn’t. I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t.” He shifts his body to lean against the hood of the car, right against my hip. He looks at me, the way he always did, and I realize it’s all still there. Everything he feels plays in his eyes when he looks at me.

How can I just dismiss that?

Dismiss him?

“And so you went to someone else?” I ask because I don’t know what else to say. I realized my mistake in all of this. My growing distance from him made him feel like I didn’t want to be with him.

He shakes his head. “No. Liz, I didn’t go out one day and say…hey let me cheat on Liz because I’m lonely and sad. I didn’t do it to get back at you…It was a hundred percent my fault. In fact you didn’t have very much to do with it.”

“Tell me,” I whisper and struggle not to run. I realize I just don’t want to know. Once the words are said they can never be taken back.

Can I live with that?

Do I want to live with that?

I don’t have a choice, I realize, because I want to be with him and the need to know will forever haunt me if I don’t find out now.

“I went out to the grocery store one night, we needed milk. I was walking out and I saw this girl who was trying to lift a few bags into her car with some trouble. I helped her…” He doesn’t continue, but a part of me needs to know even though it makes my stomach roll.

“You helped her with the bags…and then what?”

“You really want to know?” He sounds not only skeptical but a little terrified. I know the feeling.

“Yes.”

“She thanked me…she said thank you. I didn’t realize how much I missed being needed even for something so simple. She gave me her number. I threw it in the trash. It was wrong, I knew it. I let it go. A month later I run into her in the parking lot of the shopping mall across town. I don’t want to tell you the rest,” he rushes out. Steps away from me and turns his back. His entire body is protesting this next part, but I move up behind him, place my head against his back.

“I want to hear it.” I insist on a whisper. He sighs and runs a hand through his hair before garnering the courage to tell me. I know he doesn’t want to hurt me further.

I need this though.

We need this.

If there is ever going to be a we again, I need to know. I have to hear it. I have to see how much it hurts him to tell me. I have to know deep down, he’ll never do it again.

I have to believe. I have to have faith and hope.

Because there are no guarantees in life.

His voice is low, but I can hear him perfectly. “It was in the back seat of her car…it was the lowest time in my life. I was physically sick afterwards. I pulled off on the side of the road and cried…I cried because I knew that it meant nothing to me. That she meant nothing to me. That it was an act of sheer selfishness. And I knew that I would have to break your heart because I would have to tell you. I didn’t want to…I struggled with it because I knew I would lose you.” He stops and then turns to me gathering me in his arms fiercely. His look is one of anguish and regret and…and love.

“I know I hurt you, I have to live with it every single moment of the day, but I swear to God Liz, I swear that was the only time. The only one. One was enough because I lost everything in those minutes. Everything. And I can’t ever get it back. And I’m sure whatever I tell you you wouldn’t believe, but it never happened again. I have never been with another person.”

I am stunned by his confession. “But we’re not together…you don’t have an obligation to be celibate or anything.”

He shakes his head. “I do. Because I let a moment of sex destroy a lifetime of love with you. You are all I ever wanted and needed. You’ll just…you’ll never know how sorry I am for it, Liz. I can’t even…” I silence him with my finger against his mouth.

“I’m sorry, Max.”

He takes in a ragged breath. “Sorry for what?”

“I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry I ignored you. I’m sorry I didn’t make you feel like you mattered to me, but most of all I’m sorry you thought I didn’t love you anymore.”

He shakes his head. “Liz, no. No. I knew you loved me. I knew it. I was just so…so stupid! I…I hate myself for it. I hate myself for putting you through that.” He trails off and attempts to pull away but I hold him steady.

His eyes meet mine and I smile…just a little.

“What?” he asks, because I can tell he is wholly unsure of what to do or say next.

“I blame me for a lot of things, Max. I blame you for a lot of things too. But I’m tired, Max. I’m so damn tired.”

“Of what?” he says, his eyes searching mine, in a way that only he knows how. In a way that I missed more than words can ever express.

“I’m tired of being away from you. I’m tired of ignoring my feelings for you, but most of all I’m tired of not being able to tell you that I forgive you. And that I love…”

My words are lost between his kiss and my lips.

“I love you,” he says against my mouth as he takes it again. Tasting me, tasting us.

“I missed you so much,” he tells me, wrapping his arms around me and holding me to his warm chest. His beating heart.

And maybe I’m a fool for saying it, but I tell him I missed him too.

Our love isn’t perfect and the journey of marriage isn’t easy.

Max and I may not be where I’d like us to be – yet – but our love and our life is worth the ride it takes getting there.


THE END

Locked