It all started to go downhill that sunny afternoon in the park. Emma had taken the kids there in the hope for them to get some energy out of their systems before dinner that night. Bastian and Bianca had very different approaches. While Bianca was more traditional, climbing like a monkey at the jungle-gym, Bastian preferred a more suttle approach: The Chess table. Emma herself were sitting on a bench reading when she heard a voice that made her blood freeze in her veins:
-Hi kiddo! You are quite a chessplayer. Is it your father who thaught you?
Emma had seen someone in the distance that she had hoped she would never ever have to see again: Fredrick Lilja. And he was talking to Her son! Son of a bi***! How dared he! She abrubtly left her current conversation and strided over to the chesstable. As she approached Fredrick saw her coming and turned on his heel and was walking away.
–Who was that? Emma asked Bastian between gritted teeth trying to restrain herself from lifting him up and shaking him. Bastian looked up with a frown between his eyes, recting to the brimstone in his mothers voice.
-Him? Oh, just some dude who liked chess I guess.
-Have you ever met him before?
-Nope, first time. He asked a whole lot about my father though. Do you think he knows Ash?
-No I don’t and I want you to listen very carefully now. I do NOT want you to ever talk to that man ever again! Is that understood?
-No buts! Is That Understood?
-Chill! I promise. Now, do you want to play a game with me?
-No Bastian. I think I really need something to drink!
Emma had taken Bastian home soon after that and then hit the shower. It felt like iron in her mouth and she realised she had bitten her tongue so that she was blessing. After the shower she got dressed and left for the local bar. It was still early in the evening, but the bar was still crowding up.
–A double Granny Smash, she told the bartender and sat down at the bar.
–Bad day? bartender asked.
–You have no idea….
After finishing her drink she noticed that there were two guys also at the bar checking her out. All her red flags and alarm bells went up and started to ring at the same time. But she was so mad and frustrated at the entire situation that she just did not care. Instead she smiled and waved at the two boys :
-Hi ya guys! What are you two handsome devils doing here? Care to offer a poor sad girl a drink?
And some more flirting….
Emma had tried really hard to tip-toe as quiet as she ever could when she came back very late that same night. Or was it morning? But it turned out that Ash had noticed her after all. A couple of days later he approached her and called her out. At first she didn’t see him coming, she was freely typning away on her computor. Then she sensed a tingling at the back of her neck and she just knew that he was sötanding behind her. How long had he been there for?
-Princess, we need to talk….
Ash looked really uncomfortable where he sat on the edge of the sofa.
–Emma, I know…. Ash said in a low voice.
Emma swallowed hard. She realised that whatever game she had been playing it was all over now. She had messed up big time and had now to face the consequenses. But still, she threw out one last desperate attempt to save her relationship:
–Don’t play stupid! Ash’s voice were hard, and she could see how angry he was in his eyes. But to her surprise there were also a hint of him being hurt.
-I don’t …..
–Emma! His voice was reproachful. How many times do you think you can break my heart and I will manage to glue it together? How many men does it take before you push me over the edge?
–Yes Oh!. Now his voice sounded angrier than before. Don’t you get it! I LOVE YOU! I have always loved you! But I can not take it anymore.
-You…. You love me?
He laughed, but it was not a happy laugh.
–I tell you I am on the verge of leaving you and THAT is what you are focusing on?
–But, but…. Emma was struggling to form the words. The thoughts were dancing around like crazy within her brain and she could not seem to get them to fold in to a straight line. He loved her?
-But you said you did not want to be my boyfreind?
-What would I say? Hey! It is totally OK for you to treat me like a doormat and to walk over me with your pregnant rage tantrums? I had to say so to protect myself and my heart. But there is not one day, not one single day that has gone by that I have prayed to the Sky that you one day would be mine. Thats why I stayed…
–But that afternoon at the Spa? Why did you not say anything? We were as close as two people possible can be and you just choose not tell me that you loved me? Emma felt her cheeks turn red at the memory of the steamy meeting at the Spa.
–I thought of saying it, right there and then in the sauna. But then I was afraid that you would not love you back. It may sound strange, but I felt it much better to not know if you loved me or not, than to know that you definitely did not.
-But I DID love you, I mean I DO love you. I think I have always loved you too, but been too afraid to admit it to anyone. To myself…. Not even when I thought I had lost you…
They both fell silent, but this time it was a silence filled with fragile hope. After what seemed like an eternity Ash cleared his throat and leaned over to take Emma’s both hands in his:
-So what now? Emma asked. Where do we go from here?
-I dont’t know. I have been through so much. We have been through so much. I don’t think it is possible to just move on and pretend like it is raining, do you?
-No, you right. But can’t we just start over? Pretend that we just met? We really did not get to date that much before…. She left the sentence unfinished (.…I got pregnant with a giant idiot and you savd us by moving in).
–Lets start over! Leave all the old crap behind us. Let today be the prologue and tomorrow be an unwritten page. He kissed her gently on her cheek.
-Let us do that! But you have to be patient with me. I am not really good with relationships, you know that. To be honest I usually rather by myself some days.
-As long as you are truly commited to this and it is me you are coming home to each night I can live with that. I have after all done that for more than 10 years now…
-Of course I will! Of course I do! One step at a time…..
-…one day at a time!
-I love you Ash.