You turn to look at your bedmate. He’s staring at you like you hold all the answers to the universe. You realize that in his mind – in his universe – you do.
You’ve spent the better part of the evening in each other’s arms. He is your husband, and as enjoyable as your honeymoon had been, it wasn’t nearly long enough. You rushed back for meetings and classes, engagement parties and papers to write.
Lying here with him, you wish for the briefest of moments that you’d waited, that you’d allowed yourself time on the beach in his arms, splashing around like teenagers. You are not teenagers – he is definitely not a teenager, his 38th birthday having passed months ago – but with him you feel giddy again, on fire. He’s brought life back to you, a feat you never thought possible.
“I was… I was trying to figure out what you meant when you said it tonight.”
Your speech at your step-sister’s engagement party. You said the words without even thinking, admitting to the love of your life that he would always be the love of your life. You will always love him more, without reason. You will always want him in ways you do not want your husband.
And, it seems, your husband understands this.
“Do you love me, Simone?”
The answer leaves your lips before you even have a chance to think. You will always love him for what he has done for you – digging you out of the hole you were in, bringing you back to life. You will forever owe him a debt of gratitude for putting you back together.
So your answer is honest, though not as completely honest as you could have been. A half-truth is better than a full lie, you reason.
“I just can’t shake the feeling that you’re going to go back to him as soon as things change,” he tells you. He says the words even as you are snuggling closer to him, nestling into his embrace. “Like you’re waiting for him to get his act together, and then you’ll be—“
“No.” You place your fingers over his lips. You can’t let him say that word. Gone. Like you’d leave him in an instant.
It’s not true, you tell yourself. It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not…
You are distracted – momentarily, of course, because Jacob Wessner will never leave your mind for more than a few moments – by your husband’s arms enveloping you. You will stay. You will stay.
You will stay, you will stay, you will stay.
He holds you close and peppers kisses on your face, tells you that you are the one thing he managed to get right, that you are the only thing that makes sense.
And you tell him that is what he is for you. “My solace,” you say to him. “You saved me, Ian. God, I can’t imagine where I’d be without you. I promise, I won’t leave.”
Though even as you say the words, you know they are not true. Jacob is getting his life back together, getting ready for you. He is straightening up and you can’t hold him off for long.
But you ignore those thoughts and lose yourself in your husband. You kiss him and ask him to hold you and he kindly obliges. He holds you close to him and you listen to the beating of his heart.
This is where you belong. You belong with this man who has promised to give you the moon and the stars. You will stay with this man because you love him, because you love who you are with him. He has brought you out of the eight-year nightmare that was your relationship with Jacob.
And those thoughts bring dreams of a future – something you’d never imagined possible. This is what love can do, you realize. It makes everything possible. You don’t deserve this man’s love, but he gives it freely.
And that, you realize, is enough to decide that you will stick with him. You will be with him. You will continue love him as you promised to do; you will always be in his debt, and he will never call you out for the debt because he’s not that kind of man.
“Love you, Simone.”
“You, too, Ian.”
And with that, you drift to sleep.