“Okay! Okay, I- I lied about what happened with Jody and August.. And my uncle.. I lied about all of it,” I admitted, my heart racing as I looked at him and I could tell just by looking in his eyes how quickly his anger was rising.
“So, this is why you’ve been so tired.. It’s exhausting work keeping track of so many lies, isn’t it? ..You just can’t stop, can you?” He asked after a long silence.
“You’re just a chronic liar, aren’t you? You can’t go a single day without lying,” he pointed out.
“No, I’m not! I just-”
“Just, what?! It’s the truth and you know it! You lied about everything and you’ve been going behind my back for years!”
“I-I just.. I kept the truth from you,” I tried to broaden my reasoning to something just, but he wasn’t having any of it.
“And that makes it better? You can’t be fucking serious,” he asked, somewhat baffled.
“N-No, you’re right, it doesn’t.. I’m sorry.. ”
“So, what really happened?” He asked and I froze, knowing he was going to ask eventually and I had no idea why I had convinced myself that he wouldn’t.
“I know you can hear me, so stop playing dumb, Oliver! It’s not fucking cute and I’m sick and tired of waiting to hear the truth, which apparently I’ve been waiting, what? Six years to hear it?! Everything that I’m going to ask, I want a truthful answer, and if you lie to me even once, I am going straight upstairs and we’re gone, you hear me?” He threatened again to take the kids and leave and I only felt more tears falling from my eyes, but I nodded in agreement.
“I’ll tell you the truth! I’m sorry.. I promise I will, just please don’t do that,” I replied with a weak voice, acting like a dog with its tail between its legs, but if fully submitting to him kept him and the kids here with me, I didn’t care how weak I looked. Isaiah stared at me with disappointment and anger in his eyes, though I noticed he was trying to calm himself down before speaking with me, something I appreciated him taking the time to do so he could talk to me with as open of a mind as he could.
“Were you really going to your Uncle Gareth’s house?”
“Did he really bust his knee and need your help?” He asked and I hesitated a moment.
“..No..” I answered and he shook his head gently in disbelief before continuing.
“I knew it,” he voiced under his breath, “Was it just you and your uncle there?”
“No.. My uncle was never really there, he just let me borrow his place..”
“And who else was with you? Was Jody there?” He asked next and my bottom lip trembled more, knowing that if he didn’t hate me yet, he probably would after this answer.
“Yes..” I replied and I watched as his expression fluctuated completely, turning away from me before I could read exactly what it meant and I stood from the bed to step closer towards him in a slight panic.
I wiped my face clean of tears, “I’m sorry, Isaiah, I-”
“You told me you weren’t seeing her behind my back. At the hospital, when I asked, you told me you weren’t,” he spoke as if I had already broken his heart and I turned him around, making him look at me.
“And I wasn’t! You asked if I was seeing her romantically and I said no! That was the truth! I would never cheat on you and I could never look at her like that, not after what she did to me,” I answered.
“Then what did you do with her up there at your uncle’s? You never touched her? You never thought about it?”
“No, I never thought about it.. Not once.. She- She did make me touch her one time, but I didn’t want anything to do with it!” I made known and his eyebrows furrowed.
“..Was she wearing clothes?” He asked next and I didn’t know what to tell him, Isaiah seeing the answer in my eyes and he reached up to remove my hands from him and he pushed me away.
“Don’t even touch me.. I don’t want you anywhere near me right now,” he continued and I watched him sit down, turning his attention away from me, but I could still see how upset he was.
I quickly bent down in front of him, persistent in making him see that I didn’t do it on my own free will, “Isaiah, she took my hand and placed it on her all by herself.. When she noticed that it didn’t do anything for me, she made a terrible attempt to kiss me to get me to like it and I didn’t want anything to do with that, either..”
“So now you touched her and kissed her? What’s next? Did she make you have sex with her again?” He assumed angrily and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was calling me a liar for saying she had forced me before..
My own brow furrowed in slight anger, “Look.. I know you’re angry with me, Isaiah, and you have every right to be, but are you seriously implying that I lied about her forcing me the first time? You really think I’d lie about something like that?” I asked and his eyes seemed to have as much guilt in them as mine did.
“No.. I’m sorry, I take it back, I’m just-”
“Good,” I cut him off, then continued explaining myself, “And no, I didn’t have sex with her and you’re completely missing the point, anyways.. You told me to tell you the truth and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m not making up excuses just so you’re not mad at me, I’m telling you that I pulled away from her instantly and wanted nothing to do with it.. After that, I made sure to not ever be close enough to her to where she could pull something like that again,” I continued to explain and he sighed heavily.. He seemed relieved and so was I, however, his expression went angered again and it seemed as if he found something else to be mad at me for.
“You still played me for a fool,” he added and my eyes questioned his words, waiting for him to explain, “Back then when you told me you loved me for the first time, that was after you told me you had to go help out your uncle, which was a lie.. You just- You took something as important as that phrase, knowing how important it was for me to hear it from you, and you used it to help me believe your lie that much more.. I knew you were lying to me, too, I knew it all along, yet- You told me you loved me just so I’d get distracted from you lying to me,” he stood to his feet and I did, as well, taking a few steps back and away from him, “That’s it, isn’t it?” He assumed angrily and I shook my head.
“No, I meant it when I said it-”
“But, even if you did mean it, you still used it! How can I even believe what you’re telling me right now?” He asked.
“Because I told you I’d tell you the truth to anything you asked and I am! I truly did mean it, but you’re right, I’m so sorry for choosing that time in particular to say it because I said it after lies, so it makes it look like a lie, too, but.. It wasn’t, it wasn’t in the slightest, so please believe that,” I nearly begged, though he still held worry in his eyes.
“So, you did love me? You do love me?” He needed confirmation and I nodded indefinitely.
“Yes! Yes, I do.. More than anything..” I replied and he seemed relieved again, though I could tell he was still furious with me.
“Isaiah-” I tried to reason more, taking a leap of faith and I reached out, caressing his hand with my own, but he quickly ripped it away from me.
“Stop trying to touch me at a time like this! Don’t use yourself to an advantage because you know how I feel about you.. It just feels like you’re trying to distract me all over again,” he warned and I hung my head in shame, knowing that it was a bad idea, though I couldn’t help but try, anyways.
“I’m sorry..” I said in a whisper.
“Explain to me what the hell all of this was for, then.. Why did you even bring her up there? Why did your uncle get involved? Why did you do everything behind my back and what was the whole purpose of lying about it? I have so many questions, Oliver, and I don’t even know where to start,” he spoke at a loss and I felt terrible again. He seemed so helpless and confused and still so hurt by what I had done and I was utterly disappointed in myself.
I felt as if I could barely stand anymore and I stepped backwards, heavily sitting down on the mattress and taking that time to try to calm myself down, “Will you sit down with me..?” I asked, looking back up to him.
“No,” he answered sternly, disappointed in his answer, but I took whatever I could get at this point, happy that he was still at least in the same room with me.
“Okay.. Uhm.. I guess it kind of all started back at the condo..”
“Mine? Or ours?”
“Ours.. The night you were at work and came home to the condo empty, I was at my uncle’s after luring Jody there. After James and Kat left, I went out to the balcony to get some air and I noticed a blonde woman that had been sitting at the same table in the courtyard ever since I had went out to the balcony in the early morning.. It was Jody, but I didn’t realize that until later that night.. She saw you, she knew I lived with you, she knew your name and-”
“I’m sorry.. Luring? That sounds really awful, Oliver, and a little weird,” he pointed out and I shook my head.. Shit, I didn’t meant say that..
“N-No, that’s not the right word.. I don’t know why I said that, I just- I was trying to get her away from our condo and away from you, that’s all..”
“Okay, so.. Why did she leave you alone for so long and then randomly show up at our place? What stopped her from harassing you? You told me and the detective that you hadn’t seen her or talked to her in months..”
“She made a deal with me to leave me alone for a while, to stop calling me and texting me and coming up to me at school, and-”
“And this deal you made with her, what did you give her in return?” He asked and my eyes darted to the floor, “Oliver.. When did you two make that deal?” He continued to question and my entire body was shaking.
“Uhm..” My voice cracked, “When I had called you when I was upset, when you came and picked me up from school,” I replied and I heard him chuckle.
“So, there’s another lie.. It did go all the way back to my condo, not ours.. Wow.. Our entire relationship has been one big lie, hasn’t it?” He asked rhetorically, “And what did you give her in return? You never answered that one and I have to say that I’m very, very curious,” he made known.
“I-I just..” I bit my bottom lip to try to keep it from quivering, “She wanted me to kiss her, so.. I kissed her,” I spoke quietly, but even for how soft I had spoken it, I knew he had heard me. My eyes looked up slowly, seeing a smile on his lips as his brows still dipped low, but I knew he wasn’t happy.. He was covering his rage with anything but sadness and a fake smile for how laughable our relationship was was spread over his lips.
“Another lie.. You said you’d never cheat on me, yet you did..”
“I told you to stop fucking lying Oliver and you’re seriously incapable,” he added, no more smile on his lips and my stomach was turning more and more each second this fight went on.. The guilt I felt was almost too much to bare.
“I’m so sorry..”
Isaiah then continued after a long silence, “Just a kiss, like a peck? Or more?”
“..Does it really matter?”
“I guess it doesn’t, since you still kissed someone that wasn’t me,” he rubbed in.
“I-I’m so, so sorry, Isaiah.. If it helps in any way, I did that for us.. So she would leave us alo-”
“Save it,” he spat and I stopped talking immediately, “So, let me get this straight.. The night I told you I loved you, you willingly kissed the girl that took advantage of you and didn’t tell me about it when you had the chance to the same day. Then, you let me pour my heart out to you and still don’t have the decency to tell me that you kissed her, even though you were already in the process of apologizing for something else you kept from me that pissed me off in the first place?” He asked with another laugh, “Wow.. Fucking wow, Oliver.. Please, continue- You were about to tell me more about what happened the night she showed up outside of our condo, like the fucking stalker that she is, which you lied about, or, I’m sorry, according to you, it isn’t lying, it’s just ‘keeping the truth from me’.. But, please.. Continue,” he added and I feared that more tears would soon fall from my eyes.
“It sounds so much worse when you say it out loud like that-”
“Because it is, Oliver! What in the fuck compelled you to think that any of that shit that you did was just? That it was to protect me, or us?! How can you fucking live with yourself after just those few lies, let alone the possible other hundreds that I still don’t know about!?” He continued with a raised voice, worrying that he might wake the boys upstairs.
“Please, Isaiah.. You’re going to wake them up and-”
“Honestly, I couldn’t give two shits, Oliver. What, are you scared they’ll overhear how much of a fucking liar you are? How you’ve been betraying their father, your fucking husband, for this long? Are you worried they’ll overhear this and think less of you? ..I barely even know who the hell you are anymore, and from what you’ve told me so far, how can they even be sure who the hell you are? How can any of us believe a single thing you say?” He asked and my eyes started to water as he continued.
“I know we agreed to never tell August about Jody because you wanted to spare him ever knowing how horrible his mother was, but from how I see things now, you’re no fucking different than her.. You’re just a bad person for different reasons, but with a more lovable face that you used to your advantage against the one person that loves you the most,” he replied and my eyes widened in disbelief.. I stood from the bed again, the match of anger striking and the irate flame running through my veins at what he had just said to me.
“Don’t call me that! Do not call me a bad person because everything, every lie that I have ever told you was to help you! To help us! It’s the truth, the complete and absolute truth and if you don’t believe me, then so be it, but it is the truth! I lied to you to protect you from her! You saw first hand what she was capable of, what her brother was capable of and yeah, that was my fault, too, because I had told her that I stopped seeing you to be with her just so that she would leave you alone and she found out that I was lying to her, too! I was trying my absolute hardest to keep you safe from her because even I didn’t know what the hell she could do to you and I didn’t know of any other way to protect you than to keep her as far away from you as possible! She was fucking obsessed with me, Isaiah! She would do anything, and did do everything to make sure that I remained hers, but I was never hers to begin with! I was yours, I am only yours and don’t you ever doubt that!” I fought back.
“And don’t ever compare me to someone so heartless again! I’m nowhere near being that conniving and manipulative and downright disgusting and I would die for our boys and I’d especially die for you.. I’d do anything, Isaiah,” I finished and his eyes were glossy, but he refused to ever let a tear drop down his cheeks.
“I don’t even think you can fathom how much trust you lost from me,” he answered and I broke, sitting back down on the mattress and I buried my face into my hands, “Six years, Oliver.. Six years of lies and secrets and deceit.. Un-fucking-believable..”
“I-I am so, so, so sorry, Isaiah.. I will literally do anything in the entire world for you to forgive me.. Anything and everything,” I replied and there was a long, painful silence that hung in the air.
“You can give me time.. A lot of it.. Please, get out,” he requested and I looked up to him quickly, unsure if he wanted me to leave the bedroom or the house.
“W-Where.. Where do you want me t-”
“I don’t care, I don’t want to look at you right now. Just find somewhere else to sleep besides in bed with me,” he answered and I let out a deep, wobbly breath from between my lips.
I slowly stood from our bed and stepped towards the door, sniffing hard to keep my nose from running as fresh tears still fell from my eyes. Isaiah followed me to the door and I opened it, Isaiah then holding it open for me and before I let him close it behind me, I turned around and made one last attempt at apologizing.
“Isaiah.. I love you so much and I can’t even express how sorry I am..”
“..Happy Birthday, Oliver,” is all he replied with as he began to shut the door.
He didn’t say it with resentment or anger or to rub it in my face that I had ruined my own birthday, but more so with disappointment that the evening had gone the way it did. I desperately reached out to touch him one last time before he did shut the door all the way, but my hand met wood instead of the warm flesh I wanted and it fully closed in my face before I could say another word.
..One Month Later..
Isaiah hasn’t spoken more than a couple words to me in the past month, ever since we had our fight. When we’re alone, he barely says a word, though around the kids, he’ll act like nothing is wrong, or try to.. I know he’s only doing it to avoid telling them that we’re going through a rough patch in our marriage, knowing they wouldn’t fully understand even if we did try to tell them, but faking all of this happiness was grueling and tiresome work.. Then again, I guess that’s why I’ve been so worn out and tired, which Isaiah gladly pointed out to me during our fight.. Apparently to him, I’ve been faking being happy for a long, long time since I had the weight of lies on my shoulders, and although I wanted to challenge those words, the more I thought about it over this painful month, the more it made sense.. It’s been so hard to keep all of these lies behind the bars in my mind, but I just couldn’t take it anymore.. I couldn’t stand being such a fuck up when Isaiah has done nothing but treat me like someone that needed to be worshiped.. I couldn’t let him do that anymore without telling him the truth. It ended up eating me alive in the end and my guilt completely consumed me.
Isaiah didn’t move out, nor did he take the kids away from me, he just simply- well.. Stopped talking to me. He didn’t kick me out, either, I kicked myself out and I’ve been sleeping in the guest house to give him that much more space.. Before the kids would wake up, I’d sneak back into the house to make it seem like I wasn’t sleeping anywhere else but in Isaiah and I’s bedroom like I should be so the boys wouldn’t get suspicious. I knew he wanted to keep the kids in the dark about what happened between us and I thought we were doing a pretty good job of it, however, lately I’ve been noticing that August has been watching Isaiah and I a lot more, as if studying how we move and how we talk to one another.. It made me wonder if he overheard anything we had discussed loudly the night of my birthday disaster, or if he could just sense that something wasn’t right between Isaiah and I.. Plus, the fact that he knew Isaiah and I always talked and laughed and made physical contact with one another almost on a constant basis probably made him worry since Isaiah and I haven’t been doing those things really at all anymore..
Every morning, I woke up more lonely than the day before and more lonely than I’ve been in my entire life.. I could get over being without my dad for as much as he worked, I could get over being without both my parents after the fallout, I could get over being without Kat and James after moving out of the townhouse to be with Isaiah, but getting over being alone after everything Isaiah and I have been through? Absolutely impossible. If I thought I was tired and exhausted before Isaiah and I’s fight, I truly had no fucking idea just how tired and exhausted and starved for love I could be, and was.. I missed him more than I could ever express and most mornings I already woke up with tears in my eyes, or I didn’t even sleep at all, sitting up in bed alone all night long and crying as I thought about what I had done to him.. My heart was literally in pain every single time I thought about it and even on some rare occasions, once a week or so, I’d get so upset thinking about it to the point where I’d need to rush to the bathroom to vomit.. I was at an all-time-low, that was for certain.
Everything was so mundane, so pointless, so depressing without him. As I got dressed, I’d space out the entire time, removing my pajama pants slowly with barely any effort at all and if I dropped them from losing my grip, I wouldn’t waste my time bending down to pick them up.. I didn’t care, I didn’t care about anything.. All that I cared about was Isaiah. Before I’d get out of bed, I’d sometimes manage to be able to stop my crying, but as I changed and even before I could put a new shirt on after securing my jeans, my eyes would be filling with tears again and I’d completely soak the shirt I was going to wear that day from using it as a rag to wipe my face dry. Some days it might even take me a whole hour just to get dressed.
It was another lonely Saturday by myself.. Waking up alone, getting ready alone, making the bed alone, though it was still all in the guest house inside of the main house where I wanted to be so badly, like it used to be.. I thought it was actually a little funny, as well as pathetic, to think back on when Isaiah and I were first looking at this house and deciding on if we wanted it or not, and how I had thought to myself- what was the point of having a guest house? What was the point to all of this extra space? ..Never did I ever think that I’d have this much use for it down the road..
After washing my face and trying to look less dead than I’ve been looking lately, I left the guesthouse and walked passed the pool and came inside of the main house through the back door, glancing over towards Isaiah and I’s bedroom and I saw the door open, knowing he was either already in the kitchen with the boys or he was upstairs still in the process of getting them ready for breakfast. I stepped up to the doorway, looking into the dark, unlit room with the shades drawn almost shut to keep the sun out.. Was it normal, or was he trying to keep the world out, living in a dark and lonely state like I was in the guesthouse? For as selfish as it sounded, I hoped he was living like I was, missing me as much as I missed him.. I looked to the bed next and all I wanted to do was lie in it, to wrap myself in the blankets and bury my face into the pillows, but I held back, my gaze meeting the floor and I stepped away from our bedroom to go to the kitchen.
I began making coffee, always making more than I could drink by myself in case Isaiah wanted any and by the time it was done, I could hear Isaiah and the boys coming downstairs. My lips couldn’t help but curl into a smile just from the sound of all of them and August walked in with Luca first with smiles on their faces, then Isaiah followed holding Niko in his arms with a smile on his face, too, though when he saw me in the kitchen, his smile seemed to slowly drop and I quickly looked away from him back towards the coffee I had made.. I didn’t want him to see the fresh tears that threatened to form in my eyes just by witnessing how much I hated how he looked at me with such disappointment.. It made me hate myself so much more every single time and I could never tell whether he enjoyed it, knew he was doing it and didn’t care, or if it hurt him to make me feel like this.. He wasn’t that vindictive, though, so I liked to assume he had no idea he was making me feel like complete shit whenever he looked at me like that.
“Dad!” August got my attention and he came over to me, taking a quick, deep breath and shaking off how I felt so I could talk to him without him noticing how terrible I was feeling.
“Hey, big guy. Did you sleep well?” I asked, wrapping my arm around him and pulling him against me for a side hug and he hugged me back.
“Yeah. Did you?” He asked in return and a frog formed in my throat, but I cleared it with a swift cough and I nodded towards him.
“Uhm.. Yeah, bud.. You excited to spend the night at Aunt Kat and Uncle James’ place tonight?” I asked, changing the subject as quick as I could.
“Yup. Aunt Kat says we’re going to eat popcorn and watch movies and make Rice Crispy Treats,” he said with a smile.
“Whoa, I’m jealous.. You’ll have to bring some home for me tomorrow, huh?” I implied and he nodded again.
“I will,” he answered and I smirked, hugging him tighter against me, not really wanting to let go of him and he seemed to not want to let go of me, either, something I didn’t mind in the slightest.. It was nice to have this much-needed contact with someone I loved and who loved me back.. August, even without knowing what happened between Isaiah and I, seemed to notice how terrible I’ve looked lately and I’m sure without meaning to, I’ve seemed sad and lonely, and I think he’s caught on to that and has felt the need to put forth an effort to show me love and attention.
“What are you eating for breakfast?” He asked.
“I was thinking cereal, what do you want?”
“I’ll have that, too.. Are you eating in the dining room again?” He asked next, wondering if he’s also been picking up on how I’ve been trying to give Isaiah some space and how we didn’t eat breakfast together as often as we used to..
I sighed softly, “Yeah, I am..” I replied reluctantly.
“I’ll eat with you, too, then,” he said with a smile and I tousled his hair with a smirk still on my lips.
“Sounds good, bud..”
“So will we,” I heard Isaiah say to August and I and we both looked back at him.
“You will? Awesome!” August said with a smile and I looked at Isaiah for a long moment, seeing him look at me for a few long seconds, as well, then slowly look away and I was so happy that he wanted to have breakfast with me that I was brought to tears again, facing the coffee maker to hide my expression, though sadly, August noticed.
“Dad, are you okay? Are you crying?” He wondered and I shook my head.
“No, no, I’m fine, there’s just, uhm.. Something in my eye,” I said with a smile, wiping underneath my eyes to hide any tears that threatened to fall, then looking down at August and a soft smile came over his lips, too.
“Papa and I will get breakfast, go sit down,” he told me and I didn’t bother to fight it, brushing my hand down his hair in appreciation for understanding me and I excused myself from the kitchen with my cup of hot coffee.
When I got to the dining room, I quickly set down my cup of coffee, almost tipping it over for how desperately I needed to set it down and I put my hand to the table for support as the other came up and covered my mouth. Tears fell from my eyes and I tried my hardest to keep myself from letting out any sobs or whimpers. I hated how just three simple, plain words from Isaiah could make my entire core crumble to pieces after stacking it up so carefully this morning just to have the strength to face him, but I just couldn’t help it.. I was so glad. Happy tears are better than depressed ones, though.
Thankfully, I had enough time to get out all the crying I needed to, wipe my face clean of tears, and regain some of my elusive composure before they all came into the dining room to eat with me.. Luca ran into the room straight for me and I picked him up instantly, bringing him into my arms and I kissed his cheek repetitively until he started getting ticklish from it, then setting him in my lap. August helped Isaiah bring in food for us, setting it on the table and he took the seat next to me as Isaiah then came in, holding Niko in one hand and food in the other and he set down the food first before placing Niko into a high chair between him and I and Isaiah took the seat across from mine.
I couldn’t help but glance at Isaiah constantly as he sat there eating, or feeding Niko, or talking to Luca and August.. There were multiple times where Isaiah would catch me looking at him, not bothering to focus at all on my breakfast, and although I noticed that he tried to ignore me, I knew he couldn’t, just as much as I couldn’t ignore him. I wanted to respect him and be aware of the wall that I knew was still very much there between us, but it was something that I just couldn’t help if my life depended on it.. I loved looking at him, I loved knowing he wanted to be in the dining room with me, and I loved knowing he was slowly, but surely, warming back up to me, and I even dared to believe that I saw forgiveness in my future from him.. What made me the happiest was he still wore his wedding ring every day after our fight.. Never once did I see him without it, never once did I ever take mine off, either, and I adored that he never even wanted to do something as hurtful as to not wear it just to prove something to me.. I knew he was still angry with me, that much was still obvious, but he didn’t do childish things like that just to rub it into my face more.. He was still considerate and so sweet to me, even when he was ignoring me.
When we were all done eating together, Isaiah stood to clear the table and I picked up Luca from my lap to put him down onto the ground and to quickly detour Isaiah from doing all the work.
“D-Don’t, uhm.. Don’t worry about it, I got it..” I expressed and he looked at me for a moment, not replying to me and he let me take care of cleaning up, Isaiah then picking up Niko from his high chair.
“Come on, Luca, let’s go play upstairs,” he spoke sweetly to him, glancing at me briefly one last time before looking to August, “You coming?” He asked.
August shook his head with a smile, “No, I’ll help dad clean up,” he replied and I appreciated that he wanted to stay with me.
“All right.. We’ll be upstairs,” he answered, then left the room holding Niko in one hand and holding Luca’s hand in the other.
August helped me clear the table and he stacked the dishes next to the sink for me. The rain still poured hard outside as I washed the dishes and August and I didn’t really say anything to one another, just enjoying one another’s company.. Whenever I glanced over towards him, I noticed him smile and it caused me to smile, too, but I was still trying to decipher whether or not he just wanted to spend time with me, or if he thought I needed to spend time with someone.. I loved having him as company, and whatever he was trying to do, I appreciated it more than he knew, but what came out of his mouth as I turned the sink off after finishing the dishes threw me for a loop.
“Are you and Papa getting a divorce?” He asked and I froze where I stood.
I then slowly looked over towards August, looking up at me with the same blue puppy-dog-eyes that I had and I swallowed roughly, knowing right then and there how Isaiah felt whenever I gave him that same look, too.. How the hell could you ever ignore those eyes?
“Where did you learn that word from?”
“My teacher. She’s getting one. I heard the other teachers talking about her and they said her husband is a bad person and all he does it make her cry, she even cries at school sometimes during recess. She doesn’t think anyone notices, but I saw her doing it a few times.. All that Papa does it make you cry, so are you getting a divorce?” He asked again and I knelt down to his level quickly.
“Papa isn’t a bad person.. You don’t think that, do you?” I asked, somewhat alarmed at his words since he had compared his teachers husband to Isaiah and he shrugged.
“All he does is ignore you and make you sad and make you cry, so how is he not?” He asked in return and I sighed heavily.
“Because.. When have you ever known him to be a bad person? You don’t know the details behind your teachers divorce, either.. The guy could call her nasty names, which Papa doesn’t do to me.. Or he could be hurting her, which Papa doesn’t do to me, ether.. Or she could be the one at true fault, but the reason behind tears lies way, way deeper within that person and you have no idea what’s really going on, so you should never assume such things. Papa isn’t the bad one, I am,” I admitted and he grew confused.
“But.. How? Papa doesn’t cry nearly as much as you do,” he pointed out and I grew surprised.
“..He does cry?” I asked and August nodded, noticing his demeanor was slowly getting sadder.
“Sometimes.. When I come downstairs to get water late at night, I can hear him in your bedroom,” he hesitated a moment, “And I know you’re not in there.. You’re in the other house that’s littler,” he admitted and I sat there in silence for a short moment, unable to think of what to say back.. I never wanted any of the boys to find out about that, but I was worried about something more important.. Isaiah cries, too? Well, I guess it was a no-brainer, of course he would, look at what I did to him.. He’s just such a strong person that it surprised me, I guess..
“So?” He asked.
“What did you do? You said you were the bad one, so tell me why.”
“..You don’t need to trouble yourself with the details, big guy, just don’t be mad at Papa because he did absolutely nothing wrong, okay?”
“Then why do you cry so much?” He asked next and I reached up to rub the bridge of my nose briefly, trying to hold back more tears, but I was sad for other reasons besides Isaiah now.. I was sad that August concerned himself so much with grownup stuff and I was sad that he was struggling so hard to figure out what was happening between Isaiah and I.. I hated how he felt the need to ask if we were getting a divorce, too, but what scared me the most was not knowing the answer to that question, myself.
“Because I hurt him, I did something very bad and I cry because I regret what I did so, so much because it’s caused him so much pain.. That’s why I cry.. Now, promise me you won’t blame him for any of this, okay? I’m the only one to blame.. Understand?” I asked and he eventually nodded.
“August,” Isaiah’s voice called from the kitchen doorway and I quickly stood up, both August and I looking to him and I wondered how long he had been standing there.
“Go upstairs and get ready to go to your aunt and uncle’s place,” he instructed, August looking to me with concern in his eyes, but he did as Isaiah said and left the kitchen to go upstairs.
When August was gone, Isaiah looked at me for a long moment and I didn’t know how to read his stare, dropping my gaze away from his and I turned back towards the sink, pulling the plates and glasses from it and setting them out to dry. I could feel his eyes on the back of my head, but I didn’t know what he could possibly want from me.. Should I face him? Should I ask him if he wanted to talk to me about everything that happened between us? I wanted to be able to touch him again, to casually speak with him like we used to, I wanted to fix things so badly with him that it hurt, but not until he was ready to.
“How are you?” I heard him ask and my bottom lip instantly quivered, chuckling softly as how stupid of a question that was.
“I-I’m, uh..” I started, but stopped, feeling my words catch in my throat and I knew if I talked more, my voice would break, so.. I didn’t continue, and he noticed.. I was just honestly surprised that he finally cared enough today to finally ask how I was doing, and as much as I had rehearsed so many things to tell him whenever he would finally talk to me, I didn’t know what to say to him now.
“..Oliver?” I heard him say my name and tears filled my eyes, but I didn’t let them fall.. It felt amazing hearing him say my name after a month long wait.
“Yeah?” My voice broke and there was a long silence between us, but he didn’t continue with something I knew he wanted to acknowledge, diverting himself from what he originally wanted to say to me..
“..I’m.. I’m just gunna get the boys ready to go..” He replied, giving up on a conversation between the two of us.
But, I wanted to keep him talking to me, I wanted to keep him close to me and without even thinking about what I was doing, I picked up a knife I had just washed in the sink and slid it quickly across my palm.
“Ahh! Fuck..” I let out, dropping the knife back into the sink and hearing Isaiah stopping himself from walking out of the kitchen.
“..You okay?” He asked and I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and already I felt myself getting lightheaded knowing I was about to look at my hand bleeding.
“Y-Yeah, I’m fine.. I just..” I looked down and my vision grew blurry, “I c-cu.. Cut..” I tried to continue, but I was losing my balance and my limbs felt weightless.
“Oliver!” I heard Isaiah call out in worry and I could faintly hear his quick footsteps coming up behind me. I tried to fight for consciousness, but the battle was harder than I thought, feeling Isaiah catching me and slowly lowering me down to the ground and my back rest against the wall.. I guess what I did worked.
“My God, Oliver.. Your hand. What did you do?” Isaiah continued, still unable to see for a few long seconds since everything was still white and my head was spinning, but feeling him touching me and knowing he was there by my side regardless of our situation made me happier than I’ve been in a while.. Happier than I was at breakfast this morning.
“Just stay right there and don’t look at your hand, I’ll be right back,” he instructed and before I could attempt to nod in acknowledgement, Isaiah was already gone and rushing to get something, most likely some sort of bandage. I felt a little bad for forcing him to interact with me like this, but anything else I could’ve tried just wouldn’t have worked.. Cutting myself was the only way I could get him closer to me before he was ready to.
Before I could count to ten, Isaiah was already coming back into the kitchen and kneeling down next to me, feeling him grabbing my injured hand and he applied pressure to the cut to get it to stop bleeding. My vision started to return slowly and although I was surprised I hadn’t fainted completely, I was glad I didn’t so I could spend this time so close to Isaiah, which was really my plan from the beginning..
“How did this happen, anyways?” He asked.
“I.. I don’t know.. I was holding the sponge and I guess I wiped the knife blade-to-palm instead of the other way around,” I lied, though if Isaiah knew I had done it on purpose, he wouldn’t have helped me and he’d only be more angry with me.. Maybe even disappointed at such a pathetic attempt to get his attention.
“Still so clumsy,” he answered and I could’ve sworn I saw the edge of his lips smirk, though my mind could’ve been playing tricks on me.
“I-I just.. I should’ve been paying more attention and shouldn’t have been washing dishes as I talked to you.. I’m sorry..”
“Don’t be sorry, just be more careful,” he replied and I was warmed by his caring words.
“..How long had you been standing there when August was talking to me?” I wondered and I felt him releasing the pressure on my hand, checking if it was still bleeding and even without looking at it myself, I could feel that it was and he applied pressure again.
“Since he asked why you’ve been crying so much,” he answered, thinking that I was glad he had heard me tell August not to be mad at him for something that I, myself, was responsible for, but I still wished he didn’t hear any of it.. It was a little embarrassing, him knowing that even our son had noticed how much I had been crying lately.
“Thank you for saying that.. I noticed he hasn’t been the same around me since we fought,” he answered.
“It was the truth..” I replied.
“..Right.. I know it was..” An awkward silence fell around us, knowing he believed what I had told August since I really was the catalyst in all of this, “Well, you gotta start somewhere,” he continued and I knew he wasn’t rubbing it in, though I appreciated he knew I was telling the truth with it and he acknowledged it as such.. At least he saw that I was trying my best to speak nothing but the truth lately instead of all the lies I had built up over the years.. Well, except for the lie I had just told about ‘accidentally’ cutting my hand.
After a short silence, Isaiah took away some of the pressure from my hand and I could see in his face that it was ready to be wrapped, watching him then grabbing the rolled gauze he had brought with him and he began wrapping my hand. The silence between us wasn’t awkward for me, simply because I loved looking at him and my mind was racing with so many things that I wanted to do to him or talk to him about, while Isaiah sat there rather uncomfortably, fidgeting and trying to avoid eye contact with me since I was sure he was fully aware of how much I was staring at him. I wanted – no – needed to touch him while I had the chance to..
With my right hand, I reached up and the moment my fingertips touched his jawline, he hesitated in continuing to wrap my hand.
“What are you doing?” He asked, feeling him then continue to wrap my hand after his brief pause, though more slowly than before, and my fingertips continued to touch his face until my hand cupped his jaw and my thumb caressed his cheek.
“Touching my husband whom I love,” I replied and he sighed softly, “Sorry.. Can’t help myself when you’re this close,” I answered quietly and I could feel the tiniest of goosebumps forming on his skin under my palm.
“Why?” I challenged, able to tell by his eyes and his expression that he loved the feeling of me touching him, but he was trying so hard to make it seem like he didn’t.
“I miss you,” I continued to cut him off, my voice beginning to shake a little. I never wanted to hear him tell me to stop touching him and I watched as he shut his eyes to my words, as if it both comforted as well as hurt him to hear them.
I felt him finish wrapping my hand, “Are you all right now?” He wondered, ignoring my words, so I ignored his, “I need to check on the boys,” he continued, reaching up to remove my hand from his face and he stood up and stepped away from me.
“Isaiah,” I tried to stop him, but he continued to leave the kitchen and he was then out of my sight.
My bottom lip quivered and I felt my eyes watering again, bringing my knees into my chest and I sat there asking myself why the hell I thought any of that would work.. Like he would suddenly just bounce back to his normal, flirty, kind self and completely forget why he was angry with me.. I couldn’t tell if he hated me, I couldn’t tell if he wanted to make things better, I couldn’t tell if he even wanted to have a future with me and all I wanted to do was talk to him about all of this. I wanted to get passed this already, but how much more time did he need? How much longer am I going to have to wait to have a decent conversation with him? How much longer am I going to have to wait to touch my own husband? ..Am I ever going to get to again, or was just now the last time I’d ever be able to?
I knew Isaiah was with the boys all morning and afternoon and after our conversation earlier, I tried to steer clear of him again.. I wanted to be with my sons, but I couldn’t be in the same room with him, I’d just cry more and I didn’t want any of them to see me like that. I sat alone in the foyer pretty much all day, listening to the heavy rain outside come to a stop as the morning passed and the afternoon began, the sun coming in through the windows and warming the back of my neck. I spaced out thinking of Isaiah all day, like I tended to do lately, until there was a knock on the door and I got up to answer it, letting in Kat and James.
“Hey, Ollie! How’ve you been?” Kat wondered and my face remained the same, depressed and uncaring.
“Fine..” I answered, going back over to the couch I was sitting on and dropping myself back down on it.
“Ollie, we know your depressed, but you need to work passed it,” she advised and I ignored her, “You don’t act like this around the boys, do you?” Kat continued.
“I stay away from them so they don’t see me like this,” I answered simply.
“What the hell?! You just ignore your sons because you’re a mopey little fuck? Suck it up and be a damn father!” She yelled, “Parker is at home with my mom and I’m grabbing the boys and leaving so I can get back quick, so you better at least say goodbye to them with a fucking smile on your face!” She instructed angrily and James and I watched her leave to go upstairs. James and Kat knew what was going on with Isaiah and I, they just didn’t know all the details.
“Sorry man, she’s, uh.. Well, the baby’s coming soon, so she’s been a little on edge..”
“She’s right, though..” I answered James, “I haven’t been a father really for a whole month.. I’ve just been depressed and sad and no fun and trying so hard to avoid Isaiah to give him space, but it’s cost me to lose my connection with my children, as well, and it’s not them that I’m sad about or feel like I need to avoid, but.. I’m just.. I’m a bad husband and an even worse father,” I continued and James sighed.
“No, you’re not, Oliver. Don’t talk like that. Anyone would grieve like this if the one they loved was angry and disappointed in them,” he tried to console me.
“I deserve all of this.. And don’t try to convince me that I don’t,” I answered and his expression was consumed with pity for me.
James and I heard Isaiah, Kat and the boys coming downstairs and I put a fake smile on my lips for their sake, Kat bringing me Luca and Niko and I held Luca in my arms first, for a moment.
“I love you. Have fun, okay? I’ll miss you,” I said as I hugged him.
“Miss you, too, Daddy,” he replied as he hugged me back and my fake smile turned genuine from his response, giving him back to Kat and then taking Nikolai from her to hug and say goodbye to.
“Love you, little bug. Can you say bye-bye to Daddy?” I asked as I held him up, though all that he did was reach for my face and I brought him closer to me so he could kiss my cheek, or at least try to, since he was oblivious he still had his pacifier in his mouth and I chuckled.
“Aww, thank you, my sweet baby boy,” I continued, kissing his cheek in return and Isaiah took him from me so Kat didn’t have her hands full.
August came down the stairs with his backpack ready and after saying his goodbyes to Isaiah, he came up to me and I picked him up within my arms, hugging him tightly before lecturing him.
“Help your aunt take care of your brothers and your little cousin, understand?” I asked and he nodded.
“I will,” he replied as he hugged me back.
“Okay.. Be good, we’ll see you tomorrow.. Love you, big guy,” I continued and he nodded again.
“Love you, too,” he answered and I set him down, August then grabbing his backpack and going outside to wait in the car.
“I’m putting them in the car now. See you, guys,” Kat said her goodbyes, then went to James and kissed his lips, “See you tomorrow.”
“Bye, baby,” he answered and I grew confused.
“You’re staying?” I asked.
“Uh, yeah.. If you don’t mind some company,” he replied, seeing him look to Isaiah with a smirk, then back to me.. Was Isaiah behind this?
“..No.. I don’t mind..” I replied as if I hadn’t noticed James and Isaiah’s true intent.
“I’m going to work, I’ll walk you out,” Isaiah said to Kat, walking with her and the boys outside.
“All right, see ya, man!” James said happily and I didn’t say anything, Isaiah shutting the front door behind him.
James then faced me abruptly and grabbed my shoulders, shaking me a little, “Okay, now that I can say this.. Freakin’ snap out of it! You look terrible and you smell! When was the last time you showered, or shaved?” He asked and I was completely blindsided by his behavior.
“Uhm, I-I don’t know.. A few days ago?”
“Well, come on, go take a damn shower so I can actually stand being around you. Come on, come on!” He insisted, pushing me in front of him, then pushing at my back all the way down the hall to Isaiah and I’s bedroom. I knew James would always care for me, he was my best friend, after all, and although I knew he was trying to do the best he could for me, he was quite pushy lately.. Maybe having a kid made him more aware of disobedience and instability, especially with him being a doctor now, too.. He just cared a lot more.
“Okay, I get it! I can get to the bathroom from here by myself!” I called out and he smiled.
“Good. I’d rather see anger from you than this mopey, depressing shit. Start acting like you still care about yourself and stop being gross.. You ever thought that maybe your hygiene is one of the reasons Isaiah doesn’t want to come near you?” He asked and I furrowed my brow.
“Isaiah likes the way I smell..” I tried to defend and he laughed.
“Well, I like the smell of pickles but you don’t see me wearing it as a cologne, now do you? Because the smell just isn’t for everyone!”
“..Do I smell like pickles..?”
“No, just-!” He paused in frustration and I must’ve not understood his point, “Just get in the damn shower already! Start taking better care of yourself! You look terrible. You’re pale and you look skinny, you haven’t been eating, have you?” He asked and I sighed, choosing not to answer him, though he knew that I hadn’t been, “I’m going to the store to get some steaks and some beer, need to fatten you up again.. Doctor’s orders,” he continued.
“Isaiah took the Nissan..”
James threw his hands up, giving himself no choice, “Then I’m taking the Mercedes!”
“No! Don’t take that! He wants it in the garage and-”
“Oliver, I’m sure he won’t mind me borrowing it if he knew the reason for taking it was to get his husband some decent food and some freakin’ calories so you don’t look like a corpse! Get in the shower and stop arguing with me,” he continued, watching him leave and he shut the bedroom door quickly behind him so I couldn’t contest any longer.
I stayed there for a moment, feeling a little awkward as I stood there in the silence of the room, feeling as if I didn’t belong in here and feeling as if I was invading Isaiah’s space.. Of course, I knew it was still my room, too, but I haven’t been in here for a month since I had grabbed some clothes of mine and brought them to the guesthouse.. It just felt like I had moved out of it and this space was all his now..
After standing there for a few minutes, I finally felt comfortable enough to invade his space more, stepping over to the bathroom and walking in. I noticed it was still just the same as I knew it to be, all of his stuff as well as mine still sitting on the counter top by the two sinks and a smile spread across my lips.. Everything was the exact same and although I knew he wasn’t going to erase my existence from the house, I had to admit that it did cross my mind and it made me nervous to think that he would pack up my stuff just so he didn’t have to look at it and think about me.. But, I was glad that wasn’t the case as I stripped down and got into the shower, liking this shower so much better than the one in the guest house. Even if they were the exact same one, this shower still felt different.. Warmer, more comforting, more like home.
When I finished my shower, I got out and wrapped a towel around my waist and I stepped up to the sink, removing the bandage on my hand and the cut I had given my palm was already healed since it wasn’t all that deep.. What a pathetic attempt at getting Isaiah’s attention, it wasn’t even worth making myself faint nor was it worth the paper-cut-like pain..
After doing my hair and shaving my chest and torso of the unkempt hair, I looked at my body. James was right, I really was skinny and it seemed as if I had withered away in such a short amount of time.. We only fought a month ago and I already looked so different, I barely even recognized myself.. I haven’t been eating at all really, I haven’t been swimming or going on jogs, I haven’t been running around at the park with the boys, I’ve just been lying in bed all day or sitting in the boys’ room as I watched them play by themselves.. I can’t believe how crappy of a father I’ve been just because Isaiah was angry with me.. I deserved to be ignored by Isaiah for what I did to him, but the boys did nothing to deserve me ignoring them.. I needed to do something about that and whenever they would get home tomorrow is when I would immediately start being there for them more.
I stepped out of the bathroom and went over to the dresser, looking inside one of the drawers and I noticed he still kept my clothes neatly stacked to one side next to his, the clothes I had left behind and didn’t bring to the guesthouse with me. I still don’t know why I continued the thought of him erasing my existence from the house, but every little thing that proved otherwise helped me that much more and made me a lot happier than I had been in a long time. I tossed the towel in the hamper and put on some new clothes, unable to help my eyes were they wandered and I caught site of our bed, contemplating whether or not I should lie in it like I wanted to earlier..
As if I knew people would be around, for whatever reason, I checked my surroundings subconsciously just to make sure and once the coast was clear, my stride brought me over to the bed and I crawled onto it. I lie on my side of the bed first, taking a large breath in and as I let it out slowly, I smelled something familiar.. My own cologne. Surely by now my scent wouldn’t be on the bed and I know Isaiah likes to wash the sheets often to keep them fresh, so why was I smelling myself? My heart fluttered and a smile spread across my lips when I then realized that Isaiah must’ve been spritzing a little of my cologne onto my pillows and the sheets, making it feel as if I was still sleeping in bed with him and I couldn’t express how happy that made me. I then scooted over to his side of the bed, burying my face into his pillow and for the first time in the past month, I was able to remind myself what he smelled like since I’ve been deprived of being able to get as close to him as I truly wanted.. I was so happy at this very moment.
I thought I had shut my eyes for only a second, but when I opened them, I noticed James sitting on our bed, “Hey, you dozed off while I was out, so I let you sleep for a couple hours. When was the last time you got a decent nights sleep?” He asked and I scoffed softly.
“No idea, man..” I replied and I sat up, covering my mouth as I yawned.
“How did sleeping in here feel?” He wondered next and I smirked.
“Pretty good, actually, for only sleeping a couple hours..”
“I figured.. Didn’t feel like shaving?” James pointed out and I chuckled.
“Not really.. I kind of like it like this for the time being..”
“Now that I took a better look at it, you don’t look half bad with a thicker beard. Reminds me of how you wore it in college,” he replied and I smiled, “Well, come on, let’s go put the steaks on the grill and have some beers,” he said with a grin and I nodded, joining him in standing and we went to the kitchen to grab everything and to bring it outside.
After eating a well seasoned and hardy meal, we sat on the edge of the pool with our beers and once we got talking, it became more serious as it went on and I ended up filling James in on everything that had happened between Isaiah and I, even telling him exactly what I told Isaiah that I had lied about. When I was done explaining it all, he took the information a lot less harshly than Isaiah had, but then again, James wasn’t my husband whom I had lied to for six straight years.. He was my best friend that only wanted to see Isaiah and I happy again and talking about it with someone, especially James, was helping me greatly.
“Ahh, man.. I don’t really consider a kiss anything to get so hyped up about, especially since you only did it to get that crazy bitch away from you guys so you two could actually start a decent relationship. I mean, I can see why he’d be mad about it, ’cause you could’ve told him the day it happened, but I think he’s just missing the big picture of it all and why you did everything that you did.. He’s too caught up on the lies and stuff that he can’t see past them when he really should be trying to,” he brought up after I was finished explaining myself.
“You think so?”
“Yeah. And, I don’t know about you, but a month of this ignoring bullshit? That just seems mean to me, at this point..”
“Well, I don’t know.. I wouldn’t say it’s mean, he just needs his space to figure stuff out, you know? He still wears his ring, I still see love in his eyes when he looks at me, I even noticed before I fell asleep in our bed today that he puts my cologne on the sheets.. I know he misses me..” I said with a smirk and James smirked too, then he shrugged.
“Yeah, I guess that’s something.. I understand him wanting space, but this space between you guys isn’t only effecting you two, but your boys, as well. You feel like you can’t be around them if he is and that’s not okay,” he continued.
“..August asked me today if we’re going to get a divorce..” I expressed and James looked to me with surprise in his eyes.
“No shit?” He questioned and I nodded, hearing James then sigh heavily, “Damn.. They’re too young to be wondering if anything’s up with you two, but what’s been going on right in front of them makes it so damn obvious that it makes sense that August knows something’s wrong, but he shouldn’t have to worry about stuff like that.. He should be worrying about school and stuff, not if his dad’s are going to get a divorce. I don’t think it’s healthy for them and I’m actually surprised that Luca hasn’t noticed it yet. But, if it keeps up, he definitely will,” he added and I sighed, not wanting two of the boys, let alone one, worrying about what’s going on with Isaiah and I, but James was right.. It was only a matter of time before they’d start noticing.
“I don’t know what to do, Jimmy..” I expressed at a loss, my eyes tearing up, “I didn’t even know what answer to give August when he asked,” I continued and I shut my eyes, the tears falling down my cheeks and I reached up to wipe them off my face.
James put his hand on my shoulder, “Hey, hey.. It’s going to be all right, you hear me? You two aren’t going to get divorced, not after everything you two have been through. You guys have been to hell and back, you’ve been to hell and back and something like this isn’t going to make it all count for nothing. I can honestly say I have never in my life seen a couple that love one another as much as you two do. It’s nauseating, actually,” he joked and I couldn’t help but laugh through my tears.
“I like how nauseating we are..” I replied and he laughed in return.
“You really think everything’s going to be okay?” I asked after drying my face, looking over at James and he smiled with a confident nod.
“Yeah, man, most definitely. You guys got kids together and it’s so obvious that you two are still crazy about one another, it’d be stupid not to stay together,” he advised and although he had no way of knowing the outcome in all of this, it still felt amazing being reassured.
“Thank you so much, Jimmy.. You always help me out and I really should’ve talked to you sooner about all of this.. It’s making me feel a lot better..”
“No problem. We’re brothers, man, I’ll always help you out with anything,” he replied and I smiled with an accompanied, appreciative nod.
“Same goes for you,” I replied.
“Can I ask you something?” He wondered and I nodded again, “So, what happened after all that stuff? Did Jody really have August and then bail, like you said? Or was that a lie, too? And I don’t mean that in an asshole way, I’m just genuinely curious,” he tread lightly on the subject and although I was trying my best lately to get into the habit of telling the truth, this was something I had to keep lying about. I had no choice.
“She bailed.. I don’t know where she is.. I really do believe that her brother’s death hit her pretty hard.. Flipped some kind of switch in her head, I don’t know, because when I went to the hospital to pick up her and August, she wasn’t there and August was left in the nursery. Still haven’t heard from her, but I hope I don’t ever hear from her again,” I replied.
“Yeah, I hope you don’t, either.. It’s just so weird to me, though, because she seemed completely obsessed with you, enough so to try and trap you with her by having a baby, but then she just bails? I dunno, it’s just weird..”
“Yeah, well.. You never know what’s going on in the mind of a psychopath,” I answered and he chuckled.
“Yeah, guess not,” he agreed.
“Oh, uhm.. I was meaning to ask, but I didn’t remember until now.. Did, uh.. Did Isaiah set this up?” I asked and James chuckled.
“Ahh, you caught us. Of course, not that I don’t like spending time with you, and I’d wish you call me more often-” He playfully punched my arm and I smiled, “But, yeah.. He did. When I told you that you looked terrible before, you really did, and still do. You needed that glow back, though, the healthy glow, and I think you just really needed someone to help you out, someone to be there for you during hard times.. Isaiah thought so, too. He worries about you and he doesn’t like seeing you not taking care of yourself. He understands that your upset and sad and depressed and what-not, but you shouldn’t be neglecting yourself like this and withering away to nothing,” he replied and I knew what he meant.
“You’re right.. I need to stop focusing so hard on being depressed and I should start focusing on the boys more, and working out or something..”
“And actually eating three meals a day,” he added and I rolled my eyes with a smile, feeling a little more like his patient today rather than his friend.
“All right, I’ll start first thing in the morning.. I think I’m going to try and just get some much needed rest tonight, too. That nap helped earlier, but I think I need a good twelve hours or so,” I spoke and he seemed surprised.
“Already? It’s only eight. Back in college, you usually went to bed at, like, two in the morning every night,” he said with a chuckle.
“Yeah, well.. With how my terrible sleep schedule’s been, I should get as much as I can.. Plus, when you have three kids, a husband ignoring you and some time to actually get some rest, you jump on those opportunities.. Sleeping is being able to temporarily forget what’s happening, too, I guess,” I replied with a smirk and he nodded.
“Touche. Sleep well, man.”
“You, too.. Thanks again for everything, Jimmy, I’ll see you in the morning,” I said with a smile as I removed my feet from within the pool and stood up.
“Don’t mention it,” he added and I picked up my empty beer bottle, bringing it with me on my way towards the guesthouse to throw it out and to get some sleep.
Tonight, which isn’t all that uncommon for a Saturday, I closed the bar around one in the morning and as I wiped down the counter tops, I couldn’t stop thinking about Oliver and James and how things might’ve gone tonight. I wondered why James had stayed over, but I hoped he could help Oliver out of this funk he was in, as well as convince Oliver to start taking care of himself more because he looked unhealthy, malnourished, too skinny and pale, and I felt terrible for being the one to make him feel like that. Was he suffering from depression because of me? I knew I had every right to be angry with him after what he had done, but over the past month, he’s just gotten worse and worse and I couldn’t help but feel responsible for him fading away like this. I didn’t want to be responsible for it any longer and I was glad that James stayed to talk to him because I wasn’t sure if I could talk to Oliver yet, myself.. Not particularly about our fight on his birthday, but I don’t think I could look at him in his condition and stand there confidently and waiting for an apology from him while knowing that I had caused him almost just as much pain by simply ignoring him as he had caused me by lying..
When he had accidentally cut his hand in the morning and I had helped him clean his wound and wrap it, I couldn’t even look him in the eye.. I feared that if I did, a wave of guilt I knew I shouldn’t feel would’ve washed over me and I might’ve just forgiven him right then and there. I wanted to talk about what had happened between us before I would give him any sort of forgiveness, but I still believed I wasn’t ready to forgive him and I felt he was trying to speed up that process this morning.. So, I refused to look at him, I forced myself to pull away from him when he was touching my face and it was when he had told me he missed me that I knew I had to get away from him before I could let him convince me to stay behind and talk to him. I knew he loved me more than anything and he loved me enough to wait for me, but I feared that he loved me too much to the point where he was killing himself slowly without me.. And I was ashamed of myself for standing here and letting him.
I grew enraged with myself, hating that I was responsible for this and I clenched the sponge within my fist, then whipped it down onto the counter top angrily. I put my fingers to my temple to relax myself and I shut my eyes tightly, refusing to let myself cry, but for what I’m doing to him, I deserved to feel this weak and sad. Tears built up in my eyes, but before I let them fall down my cheeks, I wiped my eyes dry and took a deep breath.
I exhaled slowly from between my lips and I tried to stop thinking about it, stepping out from behind the bar and to the dining deck. I looked towards the starry night and the water that reflected it, taking a few more slow breathes to lose the rest of the irritation and anger I felt. The past month I’ve been without Oliver has been tough, but the view outside the bar always helped in calming me down before facing him and the boys whenever I came home from work. I’ve been taking more care of them lately than Oliver has, but I didn’t hold it against him. I knew he was probably trying to stay away from them to avoid making them sad and to keep them from asking what’s wrong with us, but I missed seeing him play with our sons and I loved watching all of them in the same room. It was better than any movie or television show or any other form of entertainment because it was all mine to look at, so I cherished and loved every second of it. But, I now miss those ‘all-mine’ moments because they simply don’t happen anymore. I wanted them back, but I didn’t know how to do it.
After I shut off the lights to the bar, I decided to go home before I could bring myself down further than I was. Oliver seemed to have not been using his Nissan lately, neither has he really been going to work and seeing his clients on account of his depression, so I’ve been borrowing his car instead of using mine. I guess I liked the smell of it better since mine still had that ‘new car’ scent and I didn’t much care for it. Then again, I could just be using that as an excuse to hide the fact that I’m still completely infatuated with the man. Hell, I’ve even been wasting his cologne on the bed sheets just to trick myself into thinking that he’s there sleeping next to me.. I suppose I’m really lovesick for him.
When I got home, the whole house was dark except for the dimly lit foyer and into the kitchen, seeing James sitting at the island counter reading a book and I wondered why he was still awake. I stepped over to the kitchen and stood in the doorway, James then looking over and a smile spread across his lips.
“Hey. How was work?” He asked and I couldn’t help but think about what I had done after closing when I was alone.
“A little rough,” I replied and I could tell he knew what I meant by it given the circumstances, so he didn’t question it, only keeping his smile, “Why aren’t you in bed?” I asked as I stepped closer towards him.
“Eh, can’t sleep. I’m usually at the hospital around this time of night, so it’s pretty much in-bedded into my brain to be up,” he replied.
“Is Oliver still awake..?”
“Nah, went to bed around eight or so,” he answered and I was surprised he had gone to bed so early.
“What are you reading?”
“Oh, this?” He asked, looking back down at the book in front of him, “Pregnancy book. Kat doesn’t think I read enough about it before Parker was born, so I’m trying to read more before we have our next little girl. Try to help her out as much as I can, ya’know?” He replied and I smirked, stepping over to the island and sitting down next to him.
“Have you two thought of a name for her yet?” I questioned and he shook his head.
“No. Kat’s been thinking of some but none of them have really stuck, or we can’t really come to an agreement on one,” he said with a light chuckle, “I like Adelise. Call her Addy for short, or something..”
“That’s a really pretty name,” I replied with a genuine tone.
“I know, right? Something about it doesn’t sit right with Kat, though, I dunno why,” he replied, shrugging hopelessly, “Maybe I can convince her on it, eventually..”
“Hmm.. I like the name Umiko for a girl,” I replied.
“Umiko..? Yeah, I like that, too. Maybe when you and Oliver have a girl, you can name her that,” he replied and I smiled, enjoying how he used the word ‘when’ instead of ‘if’.
“Yeah, maybe,” I agreed, leaning on the counter and I stared blankly at the book in front of him.
James seemed to notice how quiet and deep in thought I had become, “So? When are you going to ask instead of make small talk?” James wondered, looking at me with a grin, “I know you wanna know what we talked about, so go ahead and ask already,” he continued and I gave a guilty smirk, James knowing exactly what I was curious about and have been ever since I had left for work.
“Well, just start from the beginning with what happened,” I suggested and he nodded.
“I made him take a shower ’cause he said he hadn’t in a few days. He took a nap in your guys’ bed for a few hours, too, which helped lift his spirits a lot,” he explained and I grew nervous.
“Oh, uh.. Did he, uhm-“
“Yeah, he noticed,” James said with the same grin on his lips, already knowing I was going to ask about his cologne I spray on the sheets on occasion.
“Well, that’s embarrassing,” I replied and James laughed softly.
“Nah, man. He seemed to really enjoy it, actually,” he assured me and I was a little surprised.
“Mm-hmm. He’s also noticed that you still look at him the same, like you still love him, and he’s noticed you still wear your ring. I can see why you do, since you’re still married an’all, but are you meaning to do that, to give him hope or something? Or do you just forget you’re wearing it?” He asked and I looked down at my finger with the silver ring still hugging it securely.
“I guess I’ve just gotten so used to wearing it that it’s hard to get out of the habit, even if I did want to. Maybe I’m even trying to give myself hope by still wearing it, I don’t know,” I said with a sigh.
“Hope for what? Why do you say it like that?”
“Like you’re not in control, like someone else is making these decisions for you guys to either be, or not to be, together? Sure, Oliver fucked up, but you’re the one that’s kept you two separated for this long, so why do you make it seem like there’s more than just the two of you involved in this? You’re acting as if you’re being kept apart and as if someone’s preventing you from marching right over to the guesthouse and taking what you want.. As if there’s consequences for wanting to be happy with the one you love,” he replied, having a good point, but I couldn’t do it so easily like that.
I shook my head, “It’s not that simple.”
“It is, actually,” he disagreed with me, “Unless you plan on continuing to punish him by keeping this up, which seems a bit malicious, to me,” he added and I grew a little defensive.
“He lied to me and kept secrets from me for six years and you don’t think he deserves to be punished?” I challenged.
“No, I do, lying is a shitty thing, but, come on.. Give the guy a break. His dad was barely there when he was a kid, he lost both of his parents at a young age, he was raised by his uncle, the guy that was pretty much responsible for why his parents aren’t here now.. And he was defiled by an evil, conniving psychopath against his own will with the intent to trap him in a toxic relationship that he didn’t want to be in.. Ollie’s been through some real shit. I mean, the guy has been trying to fit in somewhere all of this life and has been trying to be happy, but he didn’t really start trying and pushing for it his hardest until he met you. Going behind your back and lying to you and all that junk wasn’t the right way to go about things, but if you think about it, it’s probably all that he knew or could even think to do because he was barely guided at all as a kid and he doesn’t understand that lying is a really bad thing because no one taught him otherwise. His mom and his uncle, the two people he was raised by the most, are good examples of people who lied a lot. Look, I know being lied to sucks, especially by the one you’re with, but think about it, everything he did was for you. It’s not like he lied because he liked it and I’m not excusing his behavior, but how can you blame the guy when that’s all he’s ever known and that’s all he’s ever been shown growing up? Do you even have any idea how much courage he had to muster up to tell you the truth? He had to have known that you leaving him was a possibility, but to be fair to you, he told you the truth anyways because it was probably killing him inside,” he explained and it did make a lot of sense, though it still all wasn’t sitting right with me.
“I suppose that makes sense.. However, I still can’t get over the fact that he kissed Jody when he was with me.”
“It doesn’t matter, Isaiah. Look passed it and see that he did it for you.”
“But.. How do you excuse that? I can’t just look passed it,” I stated.
“Yes, you can, if you actually tried..”
“But he kept it from me and lied about it and I don’t know if I should forgive him for that,” I replied and James instantly grew frustrated.
“Oh, for God’s sake-“
James suddenly stood from his chair and grabbed my face, pulling my lips into his abruptly and I had no idea what to do I was in such shock at what he was doing. James then quickly released me and sat back down and I was completely mortified, wiping my lips off after I had fully realized what he had done.
“James, what the hell!? Are you trying to piss me off?!”
“No, I’m trying to prove a point!”
“What fucking point?!”
“Did you like that?”
“Did you want to do that?”
“Well, neither did Oliver! Oliver did it so you two could start your relationship on the right track without Jody making things worse than she already had! I did it to get a point across and to get results, and so did he! Even though I was the one who initiated it, even though it isn’t your fault at all, do you still feel guilty for letting it happen because you’re with someone else? Because you’re with Oliver?” He asked next and I kept silent for a long moment before answering him, beginning to see his point now.
“Oliver felt the same way when he kissed her.. Is the first thing you’re going to do is run and tell Oliver about it? Or are you uncomfortable with the thought of that and how he might react?” He continued and of course I didn’t want to tell Oliver..
“Okay, I get it, James..”
“Good. Point proven, so get over it!” He demanded and my gaze went back towards the counter top, a little ashamed of myself now. I suppose he was right, it was a kiss I knew Oliver didn’t want to do and he did do it for us. I didn’t even want to think about what our lives would’ve been like if he hadn’t done it and Jody had been trying to pry her way into our relationship that whole time. Things might’ve turned out worse than they had, or maybe we wouldn’t have gotten this far together in the first place.. Either way, I didn’t like thinking about it and in the end, I was glad that he had done what he did to get us to where we are now. I don’t know what I would do without Oliver and our boys.
“I’m sorry I did that,” James added about the kiss and I grew a little embarrassed over the slight awkward silence.
“It’s fine.. You clearly will go above and beyond to help Oliver, just don’t do it again,” I replied and he chuckled.
“I won’t, but.. Had to get the point across somehow, right?” He joked and I gave a quick, fake smirk on my lips for a brief moment before looking away from him again.
James was right, maybe I should be a little more lenient on Oliver. Although I’ve been in the right this whole time to be mad at him, maybe it was time I finally forgave him and try to move passed all of this. If James was telling the truth, which I knew he was, I guess I really am the only thing that Oliver’s wanted so badly in order to go through all of these great lengths to keep me at his side. He’d do anything for me and I knew that, and he knew that I’d do the same for him.
“There’s something else you should know, too,” James continued and I grew curious, as well as a little nervous.
“I’m not telling you this so you feel guilty or to speed up your ‘forgiving process’, I just think you should know.. Today, August asked Oliver if you two were getting a divorce,” he said with remorse and I shut my eyes, sighing heavily as I dreaded when something like this would happen and it was my fault that it had.. That must’ve been what they were talking about in the kitchen this morning after breakfast before I walked in.
“What did Oliver say?” I asked, looking back over to James.
“He didn’t know what to tell him, so he avoided giving him a straight answer,” he replied and I grew worried.
“Does Oliver think we’re going to?” I asked in a slight panic.
“I don’t know. He didn’t know the answer to that question, so I’m sure it’s crossed his mind that it might happen. I tried to help by saying everything was going to be okay and all that, but I had no idea, either, I was just trying to make him happy. We’re all waitin’ on you, because you do realize that you’re the only one that knows the answer to that question, right?” He asked and I stared at him for a moment in silence.
“Do you want to? ..Would you ever really leave him?” He asked and I felt my heart drop with worry that Oliver thought I ever would. However, I suppose it was normal for him to think that since I’ve been ignoring him like this for so long, “You know what? Don’t answer that, ’cause I don’t even want to know,” James jumped in before I could respond, “Whatever decision you make, tell Oliver yourself, ’cause if it’s the bad answer, I don’t know if I can hide something like that from h-”
“I don’t want to leave him, James,” I told him anyways and he let out a huge sigh.
“Oh, thank God.. I seriously don’t even want to think about what state he’d be in if you did.”
“Neither do I.. I still don’t really know how to talk to him again, though. He tried to talk to me this morning and I completely blew him off because I had no idea what to say. He cut his hand doing the dishes and when I helped him bandage it up, he tried talking to me, telling me he missed me and I couldn’t even make eye contact. I just feel like such a jackass. The last time we talked for more than a few minutes was during the fight that caused all of this and I was just horrible to him. I told him to keep his hands off me, that I didn’t even want to look at him, and-” I stopped, realizing the worst thing I had done, “Jesus.. I told him that he was no different than Jody. I called him a bad person and he’s not, he’s not at all. Why did I say that?” I asked more towards myself than James.
“You were just mad, no one blames you for that. Whenever you two make up, though, you should tell him how you feel and what you really think of him, give him the reassurance that he isn’t what you said he was. He values your opinion the most out of anyone’s, so he needs to hear it from you, no one else,” James replied and I nodded.
“You’re right, I will, but.. How do I even start talking to him again? I don’t know what to do, James,” I answered at a loss and I heard James chuckle, “What?”
“I’ve now heard the same thing from both of you, that neither of you know what to do.. Okay, I confess. I told Oliver that you were worried about him and that you were the one that set up him and I hanging out today.”
“But, I didn’t-”
“Yeah, I know, but it made him really happy to hear it. I think a third party needed to step in and help you two, so I volunteered without either of you knowing,” he said with a sly grin and I smirked.
“Maybe you should’ve been a psychiatrist instead of a doctor,” I added and he laughed, “So, you tell Oliver that I did all of this to make him feel better and to get him to take care of himself again, and then, what? What advice are you going to give me?” I somewhat joked, even though I was genuinely curious about what he thought I should do.
“Well, since I got Oliver to start being healthy again, wait and see the improvement for yourself. See that he’s doing it for himself and for you. It gives you some time, too, to think about what you might want to say to him whenever you think you’re ready. He can handle a few more days, or a week or two more without you. But, not much more than that.. Maybe even smile at him some more every now and then so he can start believing that you still want to be with him instead of him just relying on what I told him. He needs to see it for himself,” he said with a soft smile and I nodded.
“All right, the sounds fair.”
“And of course, if all else fails and you still can’t think of how to begin talking to him, just kiss him.. You’d be surprised how much something as simple as a kiss can say,” he added and just the thought of kissing Oliver after not having done so for a month made me smile without realizing. I missed the affection we used to constantly give one another.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you blush before,” James added and I turned away from him.
“I’m not.. Definitely not blushing,” I denied and James chuckled.
“Whatever you wanna tell yourself, man. I’m heading to bed,” he said with a light pat on my back and he stood from his chair, taking the pregnancy book Katalina had given him with him.
“Hey, James,” I stopped him from walking away and he looked back at me, “Thanks for all of this. I know you have a crazy schedule and a daughter to take care of, and I’m sure Katalina could’ve used your help today with taking care of our boys, but.. You’ve gone above and beyond for us. I don’t even know how to thank you,” I said genuinely and his smile lessened to a slight smirk.
“You can thank me by not leaving Oliver. It’d kill him, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone,” he answered and I didn’t respond as I watched him leave the kitchen to go to the guest house and sleep.
As I looked at my wedding ring, I was positive now that James was right, he was right about everything. I didn’t want to leave Oliver, but if I did, I couldn’t imagine what he would do. I wasn’t staying with him out of guilt or pity or anything of the sort, I genuinely still wanted to be with him, but thinking about what could happen if I did leave him made my heart race with worry. I didn’t even want to fathom what he might do. I think it’s been long enough of me ignoring him, I think he’s learned his lesson, but I’m still going to take James’ advice and let Oliver show me that he’s changing for the better. I want to witness it for myself and know that he’s capable of self-improvement and that he can still be strong without me. I’ll be watching him closely the next week or two, not that I haven’t been already, but I will a lot more now knowing he’s doing all of this for me. Everything he’s ever done ever since we met has been for me and I wasn’t going to keep punishing him for something like that.