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Apologies for those waiting on this one – it’s taken a little longer to write for a variety of different reasons. Mostly some serious writers block, and then the fact that it’s probably my biggest ever chapter. But there was a lot to cover, so… apologies if it’s a little long!)
Hope you enjoy!)
I left Will’s and headed home, my head swimming with far too many emotions to deal with effectively at once. The most prominent is anger. Anger at how he’s treated me, how he acted. How far he had been from the man I had grown to love.
Love. I’d told him I’d loved him too. And that had silenced him. Shock? Embarrassment? I couldn’t tell. And I was most likely never going to be able to ask how he felt now after all that had transpired. All I can do is softly tap my forehead against my steering wheel in frustration, wishing I could have those words back.
Hannah is waiting for me at home and, without getting into what fully transpired in my lacklustre attempt to save her marriage, I tell her that Will wants no part of raising her and Justin’s child. I console her while she sobs and do as I said I would do – I tell her that she can do better.
“Honestly Han,” I say soothingly, my arm around her shoulders as we sit on the sofa where I’d taken comfort from her husband after our mother had died. “Honestly… I think it’s for the best. If you want this child, and that’s what’s important to you, then go ahead. You don’t need Will for that.”
“But… he must hate me. I hate that he hates me.” she sniffs.
“I think he hates himself more. And… you can do better than him. You can find someone who wants this family with you. And if not… well, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on my own.”
I don’t say Justin’s name, but considering how I know he’s always felt about my sister, I know that if she offers the chance for him to be in their child’s life then he would take it with both hands.
Hannah stays for a little while longer, composing herself slowly until she’s fit to drive home. She thanks me and tells me she loves me, and while I feel better about myself than I have done previously after fucking her husband, it still stings how I let her gush about how great I am after all that I’ve done to ruin her marriage.
And I am as much to blame as Will. As I get into my cold bed and look up to the bedroom ceiling I wonder how different things might have been had we not met on their wedding day. Will wouldn’t have consummated the marriage that night, but chances are in the morning they would have. Han would have made it up to him and they’d have started their marriage off on the right foot.
I didn’t sleep well that night.
A few weeks pass with life continuing as it often does. In that time a few things of note occur. The first is that Hannah tells Justin about her pregnancy and, unsurprising to me at least, Justin is incredibly positive. Hannah tells me over dinner one night how excited he is and how supportive he wanted to be. He’d even asked her out on a date, which she was a little unsure about considering how soon it was after what had driven the stake into the heart of her marriage. But I know what will come eventually – I can see it in Hannah’s eyes.
That first thing directly leads into the other. While I remained silent with Will, and he with me, Hannah still needed to resolve and untangle her life from him. So it’s of little surprise when my sister messages me one night to tell me she’s officially Ms. Vokes once more, rather than Mrs. Kelly. That her marriage was over.
Will is single. He is, however, still painfully unavailable to me. It’s not like I can tell Hannah what happened between us, and how I feel about him ever after how he treated me the last time I saw him. It’s something I just need to try and move past, to ignore, and concentrate on being better than I have been before. Even when I really don’t want to.
It’s not like he’s got in touch with me, heeding my angry words as I left his home of not getting back in touch. All I know is through Hannah or my dad, who tell me he’s put their house up for sale. Everything else about what is going on in his life, and how he might be feeling about me, is a mystery.
Until it isn’t.
It’s been two months since I last saw Will and I’m in the process of cooking dinner for me and my girls when the doorbell chimes. Setting the gas on the hob down low, I exit the kitchen and head to the front door, pulling it open to see Will standing there with both his arms behind his back.
It’s the last thing I expected and both the thing I dreaded most and wanted most all in one six foot plus package. I inhale and try to compose the complex feelings of seeing him again as he smiles somewhat awkwardly at me.
I open my mouth to speak, close it, then open it again when I think I’ve found the right words to greet him.
“This isn’t a good time Will,” I tell him weakly.
“I know,” he quickly says. “I know. This will be quick, I promise.”
He shouldn’t be bursa escort bayan here. Why is he even here? And why are his hands still behind his back?
Before he can say anything else though both Gabby and Jo have come to the door and leapt to give him a hug. They scream his name, excited to see him again. I’ve not had the heart to tell them that they might not get to see their Uncle Will again, a man they hold so dear. I still don’t know whether they will see him again, which makes this meeting incredibly awkward.
I cross my arms, shaking my head as I bite my lower lip and try to keep a lid on my temper. Gabby talks to him excitedly, her words rapid as she holds onto one of his hands, the other remaining behind his back. He’s hiding something.
“Gabby! Jo!” I say, voice throbbing with anger which both my daughters immediately recognise. Jo turns back to me, face wide and innocent. “Mummy, can Uncle Will come to my birthday party?” she asks, bouncing excitedly on the heels of her feet.
“I don’t know, Joanna,” I say, wishing she’d not asked in front of him. Or even asked at all. Another reason to be angry at him, considering I’m going to have to let down my daughter and make her upset because he decided to come round and remind everyone he exists.
“Get. In. Side.” I growl, and the girls finally do just that when they hear the frustration in each syllable. I hear them disappear back into the kitchen as I step outside and close the door behind me.
“Thanks for that,” I say, turning my frustration to Will now. “I’m looking forward to having to disappoint Jo and tell her you can’t come to her party. Can hardly have you attend the party considering Hannah’s going to be there.”
“And she should be there,” he adds, head bowing solemnly. “I’m sorry. I am. For everything. But I didn’t know how to best do this. So… I’m here now.”
My eyes glance back down to the arm that’s still behind his back. I feel like I know what it’s going to be. “Flowers? Really? You think that flowers will make all of this better? After all the things you said to me last time? How you acted?”
Will glances at me and his eyes drip with sorrow as he shakes his head. “No. No nothing can make how I acted last time better,” he says. “All I can say is sorry. And that… no, I won’t make excuses. I was out of order.”
“And it isn’t flowers.”
His hidden arm extends and in his hand is a tall, rectangular box. I stare at it, trying to get my head around the fact that it isn’t flowers in his hand.
A pause. “This is Lagavulin.”
“It’s my favourite whiskey.”
“I know,” he says with a sad smile, then takes a deep breath as if preparing to say something he’s been thinking over for a while.
“You can do what you want with this Izzy. You can pour it down the sink. You can throw it at me – God knows I deserve that. You can drink it alone. But if you can find it in your heart to forgive me for all the shitty things I’ve said and done… I’d love to share it with you. To… make you dinner one weekend, when the girls are with their dad.”
I’m dumbstruck. My eyes are fixated on the box up until the end of his sentence, when they finally look up to meet his.
“A… date?” I ask slowly, and Will shakes his head.
“No. No. Well… maybe eventually. But I want to make amends first.”
I rub my face and run a hand into my hair. This is what I want, isn’t it? A chance to date the man I love? And here he is, on my doorstep, showing me how well he truly knows me and looking at me with his big, doleful eyes and asking me out like he’s some awkward teenager.
Exhaling, I look up to the sky because the answer I desperately want to give, despite everything, just isn’t coming. “It’s not that simple, Will,” I eventually say.
“Yeah… yeah I know. Just… well, you don’t even have to think about it. I know it’s complicated. But you miss all the shots you don’t take, right? Better to know rather than die wondering.”
I nod sagely and take the whiskey from his hand, looking down on it as I try to work out how to proceed with this. “Thank you. For this. And the apology. It means a lot,” I say, looking down at the box in my hands rather than the face of the man I love. “You can’t come to Jo’s birthday-“
“- but you… if you want you can come round in the evening to see her. When everyone else is gone. She’d like that.”
I look up to see Will smiling. I try one too but can’t seem to manage it – despite offering this olive branch, I know things are still a mess so I know I can’t get too excited. If anything they’re less messy now, and inviting him around makes things worse once more. But I tell myself I’m doing this for my daughter, and that at least makes up the majority of the reason.
We finalise arrangements quickly before I’m called to finish making dinner for my small family. The girls immediately probe and ask if Will is coming to Jo’s birthday party, and I tentatively give them the hope bursa anal yapan escort that he might come later on if they’re good. It satisfies them both, at least in the short term.
That night my thoughts go back to Will without the same animosity I’d felt before, and I wonder whether I’m making a huge mistake in giving him this chance. My heart silently screams for him, begging my brain to not be so cautious so that, for once, I can find happiness with someone. My mind is having none of it though – we have been here before, it cautions, and there is far more at stake with Will.
Hannah. My family.
Despite knowing I should feel better for speaking with him, all I can feel is a looming sense of anxiety with every day that passes as Jo’s birthday approaches. How will I behave? How will I act? Will we kiss? Will we do more? He gets in touch the night before to confirm when the best time is to come round and I advise sometime before bed to ensure no one is around. For Hannah, I tell myself, even though if my brain could raise an eyebrow at that rationale I know it would.
When the Saturday comes, I find myself caring more about seeing Will than I should. It’s just a kids party but I prepare for it like a date – shaving my legs, wearing my most expensive perfume and then putting on my best underwear underneath a figure hugging red dress. Both of my daughters are suitably impressed, calling mummy beautiful several times as the first guests arrive.
It’s not just Jo and Gabby that notice the effort I’ve made – Hannah, who has come with Justin, makes a comment too. “A single dad here you have your eye on?” she asks coyly when we’re in the kitchen alone. I don’t have the heart to tell her who it is I have my eye on, though Jo almost puts me deep in the shit later on.
I’m washing the dishes, with Jo’s dad running through some party games in the other room, when Hannah comes and finds me again. I eye her as she leans against the counter, her hands pressed to the subtle bump under her dress.
“So Jo tells me Will is coming round later.”
“He is,” I tell her, not looking from the sink as I wash a baking tray. “He asked if he could come round and see her on her birthday and I knew they’d both want to see him. And I didn’t want to cause a problem by inviting him to the party, especially seeing that you brought Justin along.”
I turn my head and see Hannah looking at me, lips thin. “Yes. Well… I didn’t think it would be a problem.” she says.
“It isn’t Han. I assume it’s not a problem Will visits?”
“No no, of course not,” she replies quickly, then inhales and seems to relax. “Just… hard to get used to not seeing him. Will you say hello for me?”
I smile a tight smile and nod and Hannah waddles back off to the living room, giving me a chance to exhale the anxiety I felt at Hannah talking to me about her ex. I can’t help but wonder whether she will put two and two together and realise that the effort in my appearance is entirely for her ex.
The party winds down and children leave with their parents, goody bag in one hand and a slice of cake in the other. As soon as the last kid leaves Jo is asking when Uncle Will is coming round, apparently as eager as I am to see him. I send a quick message to tell him that he’s free to come over any time, which he replies to promptly so he can tell me he’s on his way.
I’m putting some rubbish out when he arrives. Stopping at the door, I watch him come up the drive with a smile on his face and his eyes subtly checking out my dress.
“I feel a little underdressed,” he says with his trademark smile, tugging at his long-sleeved band shirt with the hand that isn’t holding a bag full of presents.
“You’ve not just had to host a party,” I reply with a grin, instantly feeling better for being around him again, despite knowing I should feel wary. “There are certain expectations on the kids birthday circuit, Will.”
He laughs and my heart soars for hearing it – when did I last hear him laugh? I’m amazed I don’t swoon in front of him. To save myself from embarrassment, I indicate he should follow me inside where he is soon ambushed by two young girls who are even more enthusiastic about his appearance than I am.
For the next few hours I am essentially forgotten, but that’s okay. Instead I get to watch him play with my daughters, taking turns playing the new game he’d bought for them on their game console. I take my time just watching him act so patiently and kindly around them, only getting the odd glance off him which I return with a smile.
I’ve never felt anything like this for anyone, I realise. This close to bursting with love. Where I want to go down the street and knock on everyone’s door so I can drag them to my home and bellow at them how much I love this man. That he encapsulates everything I could ever want from a lover, confidante and father figure to my children. Then that pang of anxiety hits as I remember I have bursa rus escort no idea how Will feels, and doubt sets in again.
Maybe he’s only here to be friendly with Jo and Gabby one last time?
Those pangs throb away inside of me as I get them ready for bed. I worry that, as Will waits for me downstairs, that the girls will be too excited for bed. But the hectic nature and excitement of the day has thankfully exhausted them, and both of them are out cold almost the moment the lights are out.
When I get downstairs, I close the living room door and find Will sitting on the sofa looking apprehensive. I tilt my head at him and quirk my lips slightly. “Everything ok?” I ask, feeling that anxiety seep into me again at how uncomfortable he looks, leaning over his knees with his hands clasped together.
“Yes. I mean… Iz, I need to apologise. Properly. For last time.”
He doesn’t look at me as I sit down on the sofa, not quite beside him, and continues.
“I wanted to make excuses for how I acted. How I was in a dark place and that people always take out their pain on those they’re closest to. But that’s bullshit – there aren’t any excuses for what I did. Most of it was self-loathing, and I just took it out on you because of how close we’ve been.”
He sighs and continues. “I was a prick, Izzy. And I’m so sorry I hurt you. Especially after what you said as you were leaving.”
Will looks at me then, his eyes dripping with sorrow and I think to myself his pretty eyes should never look so grim. I sigh softly and decide it’s better to be honest with him.
“Yeah, it did hurt. A lot. Because I thought you were better than that. But we were a mess – between us we were a total fucking mess Will. Everything we did was a mess. As for what happened – you apologised, and I’ve had enough fake apologies over the years to know you mean it. I should be wary, but… I find it really hard to be wary around you.”
A soft chuckle comes from his lips and I see some of the stress leave his body. “I thought I’d blown it,” he says with a rueful shake of his head. “Thought I’d lost any chance with you.”
I swallow hard hearing that, and feel incredibly nervous as I query what he means by that. Will looks at me with a quizzical frown on his brow.
“Like… I know it’s complicated. But these last few weeks – and even before that – I couldn’t stop thinking about you Izzy. How you make me feel. How comfortable I am around you. How I don’t have to act around you – I just…. Am. It just feels so easy.”
We share smiles with one another while I feel like my chest might burst. It almost sounds to me like he might feel the same way. I take a deep breath, savouring this moment, then exhale and stand up.
“Would you like a glass of Lagavulin?”
“It’s not been poured down the sink?” he asks, mouth wide with a genuine smile.
I make a dismissive sound and turn towards the kitchen. “Whiskey that good? Would be more likely for me to have finished it by now.”
Pottering into the kitchen feeling as good as I have in months, I pull two glasses and the bottle from a cupboard and place them on the side. My concentration is such that I don’t hear movement behind me, so when two strong hands go to my hips I jump slightly and turn my head to look up at Will.
“Need any help?” he asks.
“No, I think I’ve got this,” I answer breathlessly, still looking into his handsome face. “Ice?”
He doesn’t reply. At least not verbally. Instead his mouth drops to mine and, for the first time, I kiss Will with none of the baggage that has followed us over the months we’ve shared one another. Or at least none of the significant baggage anyway – he’s still my sister’s ex, I suppose.
My hands reach back and hold his head as we make out, running into his short hair as his hands smooth up my dress to cradle my breasts. I groan as the brief touch awakens my body to him, despite the dress and bra being in the way of my hard nipple.
Feeling him touch me like that means it’s no surprise to me when my kissing becomes more urgent, the drinks forgotten as we seek to make up for lost time. Our bodies press desperately against one another and Will quickly moves his hands down to the hem of my dress, which he starts to pull up my pale thighs.
Just like almost all our other times together, things move quickly. But is that what I want? A part of my mind shouts then, and I pull away from the kiss. “No,” I breathe, and Will pulls away.
“Sorry sorry,” he says, hands now off me as he steps away with his head down. “I should have… sorry. I’m moving too fast.”
I quickly go to him and grab his hand, squeezing it as I move into his line of sight. “No, it’s not that. Well, we are moving too fast. But it’s the place. I don’t want to fuck you here. Not this time. I want you in my bed.”
Will looks at me for a moment. “You sure?” he asks, and in answer I squeeze his hand and lead him out of the kitchen, turning the lights off downstairs as I lead the man I’ve been dreaming about to the place I’ve been dreaming of taking him.
Closing the door of my bedroom behind us, I turn to find myself immediately in his arms. We kiss once more and my hands start pulling up his shirt to reveal his strong torso while the zipper at the back of my dress is pulled down to the small of my back.
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