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 Post subject: To Breathe Again (Chapter 9)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:53 am 
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Location: On a good day, planet Earth in NE Alabama.
---------
(Chapter Nine)


Can I get you something?” Dee Dee said while closing the door.

“Uh…no, thanks.” Rick exhaled a bit of tension.

“Have a seat.” Dee Dee moved to the sofa while Rick sat across from her in a chair.

Unsure of where or how to begin; Rick clasped his hands together in his lap and glanced around the room.

Dee Dee; also unsure of how to begin, quietly twirled a curl of her hair around her finger; avoiding any eye contact.

“I came here to say something, so I guess I should say it.” Rick sighed and mustered as much courage as possible and finally looked at Dee Dee. “I’m really very sorry that I hurt you. I hope you can forgive me.” Worried about her reply, he waited as patiently as possible.

“There’s nothing to forgive you for. I’m to blame.” She stated solemnly tone. “I shouldn’t have kissed you. I started it all.” She lowered her head. “I don’t blame you for being upset with me.”

“What do you mean?” Rick asked in confusion. “Why would I be upset with you?”

Dee Dee kept her head down and ran her fingernails along the edge of the hem in her shorts. “When we kissed, you said you couldn’t be a part of breaking my vows. I knew I was wrong to kiss you. You kissed me on the cheek and asked what I wanted you to do…what I wanted to do, too. Then I kissed your lips. I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have expected you to want to be with me while I’m still married. It was my fault for starting it and for wanting it. You’re not the type to try and break up anyone’s marriage. I regret putting you in that situation.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean…you misunderstood.” Rick moved to the sofa and sat beside Dee Dee. “I did want to kiss you. I wanted to be with you. And, yes, I know it’s wrong for anyone to be with another while they’re married, but I honestly wanted to be with you, Dee Dee. I just didn’t want you to feel any guilt or to go against your beliefs…the vow you took to stay faithful to Alex. If I hadn’t stopped myself, I’d have been the cause of you cheating on Alex. I know you’re unhappy with him and that you’d like for us to have another chance, but I want you to be sure of what you’re getting yourself into.” He saw the look of uncertainty on Dee Dee’s face, and he gently placed his hand over hers. “I do love you, Dee Dee. I love you with all my heart. I just don’t want you to do something you’ll regret, and I feel that being with me while you’re married will be something to haunt you for the rest of your life.”

Dee Dee slowly turned to face Rick. She saw the extreme sincerity in his eyes. There was no denying that he did love her and that he was looking out for her when she didn’t seem to think clearly enough on her own. “I have to thank you.”

“For what?”

“For watching out for me…as usual. My head has been so muddled that I was ready to do something I said I’d never do; cheat on my husband.” Dee Dee sighed wearily. “I guess I got caught up in the affection you showed me. I needed to be shown that someone still cares about me, but I shouldn’t have let myself go so far.” She sighed again and used her tongue to moisten her lips.

Though she didn’t intend it to be enticing, Rick couldn’t help but see it that way. Everything about her made him want her as his own. He just couldn’t help himself. He had to rid his mind of such thoughts. “You were tempted, as we all are when it comes to certain things. I helped to fuel that temptation. That’s why I feel I owe you an apology.”

“Maybe we both should apologize.” Dee Dee said. “We both feel bad for what happened, we never intended to upset each other, so…well, we’re both sorry for that reason.”

“I can agree to that.” Rick answered. “So, where do we go from here?”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with my marriage, but at the moment, I still have a husband that I promised to be faithful to, through good times and bad. I love you, Rick. I really, really love you.” Dee Dee’s eyes glistened with tears. “But…I have to take time to think about what I really want right now. Alex and I have had some rough times, but we never really did anything to see if we could smooth them out.”

“Do you think it can be done?” Rick asked, though he wasn’t jumping for joy that she might actually work things out with Alex.

“I don’t know. But I do think it’s worth giving a try, at least once. If he’d have ever hit me or cheated on me, then I wouldn’t try to save the marriage. That’s why I feel so awful for what I’ve done since I’ve been here.”

Rick could only imagine the pain and disappointment Dee Dee felt within herself. “We all make mistakes, Dee Dee. At least you’re able to admit to what you’ve done.”

“But the hard part will be admitting it to Alex.” Dee Dee lowered her head and slid her hand across her belly. “We owe it to our baby to at least give counseling a try.”

Rick knew it was the right thing for Dee Dee and her family, but it didn’t make his heartache any less painful. “You know, I’ll do whatever I can to make you happy. If it means that I have to say goodbye to you for good, in order for you and Alex to be happy, then I will.”

“Rick, no.” Dee Dee sighed and pursed her lips. “That’s not what I want. I never wanted us to break up our friendship for any reason. It was Alex who had the problem of being jealous of what we have.” She shook her head at the thought. “If I have to say goodbye to you forever, what would I do with myself? How can I not have you in my life, Rick? How?”

Rick shook his head. “I don’t know.” It hurt him deeply to think of never seeing her again. “It would probably kill me to never see you again, but I want you to have the perfect marriage you’ve always wanted. You and Alex do need some time to try and get on the right track. If we keep in touch, he’ll always bring it up to you; that it’s your fault for not holding up your end of the bargain. And that’s what he’s asking for; a bargain that may help save your marriage.”

“I always swore that I wouldn’t let my husband choose my friends. And that’s what he’s doing.” Dee Dee felt her eyes begin to sting as she fought back the tears. “I don’t want to give up the best friendship I’ve ever had, just because I’m married. I’ve never, ever felt I could do that. Some people believe that once you’re married, that you’re supposed to throw away your friends from before. I just don’t believe in that.”

Rick wanted to move close to her and hold her in his arms, but he feared the battle of temptations to do more. “Whatever you decide, I’m here for you.”

“Thank you. That’s what I want.” Dee Dee felt her heart lighten at the reply, but also felt the overwhelming urge to cry. “I want to be here for you, too, just like always. We’re friends and no one will break us apart.”

Seeing how upset she was becoming, Rick couldn’t contain his desire to hold her. He moved to her side and pulled her into his arms. “No, no one will. I love you, Dee Dee. I’ve never loved anyone the way that I love you, and I couldn’t bear not being a part of your life anymore.” He felt himself pulling her closer and feeling guilty at the same time.

Dee Dee leaned into his arms even more. “I feel the same way.” She felt herself wanting to be even closer to him, to have him kiss her again, but she couldn’t kiss him again without being a cheating wife. She suddenly felt her own guilt begin to build. “The time we’ll spend together while I’m here; I guess we should focus more on the type of relationship we had before we became lovers.” She noted, softly.

“Friends. We’ve done it before, and it was great.” Rick said in trying to convince himself as well as Dee Dee. “We can manage that.” He pulled Dee Dee a little closer, unsure if he’d be stepping across the line.

When he felt her stiffening in his arms and he knew that they were both beginning to feel uncomfortable and accountable for being in such close quarters.

“Uh, could I have some water?” He asked. It was the only think he could come up with as a gentle way to get them out of the situation.

“Sure. I’ll be right back.” Dee Dee stood and went into the kitchen. As soon as she was out of Rick’s sight, she heaved a sigh of relief at knowing how close she came to having her lips on his again, but didn’t go through with it. She began to think of Alex and how she did love him, and that she should concentrate more on her life with him. She knew the task would be a hard one, but she was willing to take it on. Clearing her mind of those thoughts, she returned to join Rick. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” Rick took the bottle from her. After taking a swallow, he turned to Dee Dee, who was now sitting farther away from him on the sofa. “Have you had dinner, yet?”

“No.”

“Are you up for going out for a bite?” Rick asked hopefully.

“Uh…well, I guess so.” Dee Dee looked down at her shorts. “You’ll have to give me a minute to change.”

“Go ahead. But knowing you as I do, it’ll take longer than a minute.” Rick chuckled.

“Funny.” Dee Dee replied with a smile. “I’ll be right back.”

Once Dee Dee was ready, they went out to Rick’s car. Just before he opened the door, Dee Dee looked back toward the garage. “I’ll drive myself.”

“Why?” Rick questioned in surprise.

“In case you don’t want to come back here after we’ve finished. It wouldn’t make sense for you to drive all this way and then back to your place.”

Rick thought for a minute. He didn’t know if Dee Dee actually meant what she said, or if she was trying to limit their time together to avoid any more of awkward moments. “Oh, okay. I guess by the time we finish, it’ll be pretty late. I think it’d be best if I went home afterward.” He struggled to smile through the disappointment.

“Okay. I’ll follow you.” Dee Dee answered. “Where are we going, by the way?”

“There’s a new restaurant that serves burgers, and Mexican food.”

“Sounds good.” Dee Dee smiled. “I could go for some guacamole.”

“You got it.” Rick got into his car and waited while Dee Dee activated the remote to open the garage. Seconds later, he heard the low rumble of a car’s engine and saw a black Mustang backing out onto the driveway. “No wonder you wanted to drive!” He bellowed in surprise and with a laugh. “Nice wheels, McCall!” He caught himself calling her ‘McCall’, but didn’t worry about changing it.

“Thanks.” Dee Dee beamed. “It’s great isn’t it? Check this out.” She let the top down and grinned.

“It’s you, alright.” Rick laughed. “Come on, Speed Racer. Let’s go eat.”

Once inside and at a table, Rick commented again on her rental car. “A Mustang convertible.” He smiled. “I’m surprised you didn’t get a BMW.”

“You sound like my mom.” Dee Dee sighed with a smile. “I wanted to take a break from what I drive at home. You know I love Mustangs, too.”

“Yeah, I know. I also know that you like to eat.”

“What?” Dee Dee tilted her head to the side. “Oh, funny. Enough about my appetite. Let’s get a waiter so we can order.”

Rick smiled at the expression Dee Dee displayed with his comment on her appetite. “I forgot you’re eating for two. Maybe we should get two waiters. They’ll be bringing lots of food.” He laughed.

Dee Dee smirked and tossed a small bit of a bread-stick at him. “We’ll see how comedic you are when the check comes.”

Managing to stand clear of any topics on marriage and relationships, the two enjoyed their meals and conversation; remaining until they were the last customers to leave at closing time. Rick ushered her out with his hand of the small of her back, and he kept it there until they reached their cars. It was a gesture that Dee Dee had always appreciated and the feeling was one she would never forget.

“I had a great time.” Dee Dee smiled while leaning with her back against her car.

“So did I.” Rick leaned against his own car which was parked next to Dee Dee’s. “When can we do this again?”

“I don’t know. We’ll talk on the phone in the days to come. We can decide on something then.”

“Sounds good.” Rick looked at his watch. “Well, it’s nearly midnight. I should follow you home to make sure you get there safely.”

“Are you serious?” Dee Dee said with a slight smile. “Have you forgotten that I used to be a cop?”

“Nope. I haven’t forgotten. But you weren’t pregnant, then.” Rick said in a serious tone. “You might not be able to fight as well as you did back then. And I wouldn’t even want to worry about you trying to fight.”

“I appreciate it, but I’ll be fine.” Dee Dee smiled reassuringly. “I’ve got a phone in the car in case I need help.”

Against his better judgment, Rick decided not to try and sway her determination. “Well, do me one favor.”

“What is it?”

“It’s late, so keep the top up. It’s easier for someone to get to you with it down. And keep the windows up and the doors locked.”

“Oh, alright. You’re such a worrier.” Dee Dee shook her head. “But I do appreciate your concern.”

“I’m always going to try and keep you safe. Don’t you know that?” Rick smiled.

“Yeah. I do.” Dee Dee stepped up and kissed his cheek.

Rick stood with his arms across his chest. “And…”

“And, I’ll call you when I get home. I promise.”

“Good. Be safe.”

“I will. You, too.”

The two parted ways and headed to their destinations; each with thoughts of the earlier and enjoyable moments spent together. When Dee Dee arrived home, she kept her promise and called her best friend, who’d just stepped inside his home. He was grateful to hear she’d made it home safely, and that the call allowed him to hear her voice once more before the night was completely over.

“Dee Dee?” Anna called from the den.

“Yes?”

“Come here. I need to tell you something.” Anna’s voice carried a tone which let Dee Dee know it couldn’t be very good news.

“What’s wrong?” Dee Dee sat on the sofa beside her mother.

“Alex called. He wanted to know where you were, and I told him that you were out.”

“What did he say, then?” Dee Dee furrowed her brow.

“He said that he knew you were out with Rick. I didn’t say that you were or weren’t. I only told him that you were gone when I got home, which was the truth. I didn’t know if you’d left with Rick or not. He said that I was lying for you. I told him that I didn’t appreciate his accusation and then I hung up.”

Dee Dee sighed and shook her head. “He’s so unbearable. I’m sorry he spoke to you that way.”

“It’s okay, and it’s not your fault.” Anna answered.

Before they could say another word, the phone rang.

“It’s after midnight. It can’t be anyone but Alex.” Dee Dee said in a huff; quickly standing and rushing to the phone. “Hello?”

“Dee Dee?”

“What, Alex?”

“I want to know how the baby and you are.” Alex asked in a gentle tone.

“We’re fine.” Dee Dee answered sharply. “Why did you call my mother a liar? If she told you I was out, that should have been enough for you. I don’t appreciate that at all.”

“I’m sorry. I was going to ask to speak to Anna so I could apologize. Is she awake?”

Dee Dee sighed. “Yes. Hold on.” She called her mother to the phone, who seemed in no hurry to hear Alex’s voice.

“Yes, Alex. What is it?” Anna asked.

“I want to apologize to you. I’m sorry for my behavior, earlier. I shouldn’t have accused you of lying about Dee Dee’s whereabouts.”

“I accept.” Anna said flatly. “Now, if that’s all….”

“Yeah, that’s all. Will you put Dee Dee back on?”

Anna handed the phone to her daughter who reluctantly accepted it, and then returned to the den.

“What do you want?” Dee Dee asked.

“Listen, I called earlier to check on you and the baby; you said you’re fine. I’m glad. I also wanted to see if you’d decided on what to do about our marriage. I’m still in Germany, but I’ll be home in two days. Will you be home in two days?”

Dee Dee twirled the phone cord around her fingers as she leaned against the wall. “No. I won’t be there.”

”So, what…you’re just giving up completely on our marriage?”

“Alex, I’ve tried. I really have, but you won’t go to counseling and I don’t know what else to do. I thought spending some time apart would help. Maybe we haven’t spent enough time apart. It’s only been a couple of days.” Dee Dee sighed as her mind spun with confusion of all things concerning her marriage. “We talked about separating, and I just don’t know how we’re going to play that out.” She twirled the cord tighter and nervously pinched her bottom lip with her teeth.

“How long of a separation are we talking?” Alex asked gruffly.

“For as long as it takes.”

Alex poured himself a glass of gin and sat in the chair across from his hotel bed. “You know what? You have no idea of how long because you haven’t asked your boyfriend. Yeah, I know you’re with Rick. That’s the sole purpose of your going back to LA; to be with him and to make me believe you’re thinking of working to save our marriage.”

Exasperated, Dee Dee groaned loudly. “Ugh! This is just the kind of crap I’m sick of putting up with! Why can’t I come to my hometown to visit family and friends, without you accusing me of sleeping with another man?!”

“Because you are sleeping with another man!” Alex barked. “I know you’re having sex with Rick! I know you are! You couldn’t wait to get back to him and into his bed!”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re probably drunk, too.” Dee Dee said through clinched teeth. “If you only called to start a fight, then I’m hanging up. And you don’t have to call back.”

“Wait a second! Tell me the truth, Dee Dee. You were out with Rick tonight, weren’t you?”

Dee Dee hesitated for a short moment. Though she wasn’t ready to divulge the truth of what happened at Rick’s house, she felt honest enough to answer this question. “Yes. We went out to dinner together.”

“I knew you were with him.” Alex's jaw tightened. “Are you sleeping with him? We’re having problems, we’re separated, and we don’t know if we’ll get back together. So I imagine you find these things to be your excuses to sleep with him. Tell me. Tell me the truth.”

“Damn it, Alex! Why are you like this?! Rick is my friend. We’ve been over this a million times. We’re friends.”

“Yeah…friends who have sex.” Alex huffed.

“Here’s the truth. I’m not having sex with Rick. I haven’t slept with him or with any other man since we’ve been married.” Dee Dee exhaled deeply. “Are you satisfied?”

“Not really. I think you’re lying. If you’re not, I know you will eventually sleep with him. Yeah, you’ll be in his bed within the week.” Alex sneered.

“You can believe whatever you want, Alex. And at the rate we’re going, and with your attitude of not caring much for me lately, it might not be a terrible thing for me to be with Rick.” Dee Dee surprised herself with the announcement.

Alex took another swallow of gin and sighed. “I’ll tell you what, you take your time in getting back to me; spend some time in Rick’s bed, and I’ll do whatever the hell I want to do! Just know that if you decide to have our baby over there, I’ll be coming to take him home with me and you won’t see him again! You can count on that!” With that, Alex hung up on his wife.

==== ===

(Continued...)


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