Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sessions 2 - Helpless
Helpless, helpless, helpless
Baby can you hear me now?
The chains are locked
and tied across the door,
Baby, sing with me somehow.
Helpless, helpless, helpless.
South Beach - Stanfield Residence ~ Early Afternoon
Rays of sunlight beat down on Cooper as he pushed up from a deep sleep, startled and slightly disoriented. Beth's side of the bed had been made, he noticed as he slung his legs over the side and stood.
Running his hands absently through his hair he tried to shake off the cobwebs in his head as he studied Beth through the etched glass of the bathroom door. She was up and dressed as if she had somewhere she needed to go. Sighing, he made his way toward the bathroom wrapping a discarded towel around him. He wasn’t sure what time it was, whether Rainie was home, whether Beth had the boys in the bathroom with her – safer to cover up.
He pushed open the doors, glanced around, no twins, just Beth standing there looking at him with the same distant expression she’d worn since he told her he’d fired Ryan.
This could not continue. Trying to ignore it for now, Cooper spoke, “Hey baby, are you going somewhere? You should have gotten me up earlier.”
“I’m going out for a little while,” she responded quietly. “Can you watch the twins? It won’t be longer than an hour.”
Cooper hesitated, watching her walk past him into the bedroom, her back to him. He had expected her to blow up last night when he dropped the news about Ryan, but she hadn’t. Instead she had gone quiet and still. Responding to him, and he had needed and wanted that physical and emotional response, but not that way. He would have preferred a fight.
He followed her and deliberately stood in her way. “Sure I can watch them. Where are you going?”
She started to say something, then shrugged. “Nowhere. Just to the park. I need some time by myself, that’s all. I’m taking my cell; I won’t be out of touch.”
“If this is about Ryan – “
Beth touched his cheek, ran her fingers gently through his hair. “I love you, Coop. I’m not angry. I just want to get out of the house for a little while.”
It was not an answer, which meant it definitely was about Ryan. Irritated and disturbed, he let her go, watching as she passed through the doors and descended the steps, heading north, on foot, toward the park.
Give her some space, he told himself, but it was a damned good thing he’d gotten rid of Ryan.
South Beach - Waterfall Park ~ Late Afternoon
Beth walked the few blocks down the coast road, sticking as close as she could to the shelter of the trees and shrubbery and fighting with sand in her shoes. Time to think, yes, she needed time to think, but she could have done her thinking at another park. Not this one. Not the one where they had spent so much time – but as soon as she ducked under the palm fronds and looked toward the pond, there he was. As she had anticipated he would be.
Ryan shifted his weight, hands clasped loosely, and looked up at her from his seat on one of the rocks that bordered the pond. “Hi,” he said, his face alight, “I wondered if you would show up.”
This is not a rendezvous, she told herself uncomfortably. Neither of us arranged it. Her heels sinking into the sand, she approached him. “I didn’t know if I should come, or if you’d be here.”
He stood up, stretched, and looked at her directly replied, “Of course I’d be here. I’ve been hanging around for a couple of hours. The seating is lousy, but it was worth the wait. Are you all right?”
Was she? No. She was standing here with the man her husband distrusted and had just fired. And she felt guilt and loss and grief and amorphous regret. And she had no idea what to say.
Ryan stepped closer to her. “Beth,” he repeated in a low, tense voice, “are you all right? Did he come down on you about any of this?”
“No, no, that’s not why I’m here,” she assured him, the question and the intent behind it making her uneasy. “Ryan, I wanted to tell you I didn’t know he fired you. I’m sorry. I know I told you I would stop it but I couldn’t.”
He glanced down, swept the little park quickly, and taking her hand, his grip warm and tight, told her, “Let’s go over there behind the rocks. We’re too exposed.”
Beth followed him, distracted by the touch, stepped behind the shelter of the overgrown landscaping, then abruptly and completely unexpectedly began to cry, her shoulders shaking.
Pulling her gently into the lee of the rocks where at least they would have some small degree of privacy, Ryan touched her hair, whispered against it, his voice thick with pain and anger, “I’ll be all right. And I'm not leaving. Don’t cry.”
She shook her head, looked up at him. “I can’t think…I’m sorry. For the whole mess. For whatever I’ve done to get you fired. I’m so sorry.”
“We’ll work it out. Cooper doesn’t scare me, Beth. Whatever you want to do, we’ll work it out. But if you’re worried about me – that’s not something you need to take on yourself. You didn’t get me fired. That’s between Cooper and me.”
“Work it out? There’s no way to work it out.” Beth searched his face, struggling hard with emotion far more intense than she had anticipated. The speech she had silently rehearsed – part friends, wish him the best, the bloodless farewell – now seemed insane. Lie to him, she screamed at herself. Tell him you were sick of having him around. Get mean. She couldn’t do that either. “There just isn’t any way,” she repeated in a tired whisper.
“You don’t have to think it through right now. I’m not going to run off. Come on, don’t cry.” He glanced over her shoulder, saw no one, then abruptly decided he’d had enough of this. Ryan wrapped his arms around her, pulled her tight against him, and simply held on, the embrace returned, close, warm, impossible. What he wanted damn it how much he wanted it. No way was he going to give up yet. Not yet. Not this time. Not again.
She leaned her head against his shoulder, breathed him in. Deep misery and the sick knowledge that not only was he in love with her, she was more than half in love with him. Cooper was right – it had to end.
“Take some time,” Ryan pressed urgently. “You’re going to get hurt. It’s already there. Take some time and think about what you’re facing with him.”
Beth pulled away, put a step between them. Shaking her head again, she replied her voice unsteady, “I don’t need any more time. I don’t have any more time. There’s no time, ever. I have to go. Goodbye Ryan.”
South Beach - Mitchell Residence ~ Late Evening
It was late when Heydon arrived at the house in South Beach. He let himself in and found Peri waiting for him in the kitchen. "Is Cadence up?" he quietly asked as he looked around for his daughter.
"She's upstairs finishing her homework. Let's go into the living room." Peri studied him carefully before walking toward the living room and sitting.
They sat next to each other in an awkward silence. Finally unable to endure it, Peri spoke softly. "You aren't coming home are you?"
Heydon looked around taking in the subtle changes in the house he realized it was very much like his marriage, something he no longer recognized. It hurt like hell to walk away from the woman he had loved with his whole heart but staying would mean losing himself.
Heydon walked around the room before sinking back down on the couch and leveled his gaze on Peri. He paused as he tried to choose his words carefully. "We both need to walk away with our dignity before we utterly destroy the tenuous relationship we have right now. I don't want to fight anymore; I don't want to hold onto this anger. We both need to move forward."
They both stood and walked toward the door when Heydon pulled her to him one last time and kissed her gently. "I should go," he whispered, his voice husky with emotion. He needed to go now before it became more difficult.
"Do you want to say goodnight to Cadence? She'll be disappointed that she didn't see you."
He shook his head. "It's probably not a good idea. I'll spend time with her this weekend; it's going to be hard for her to understand."
They walked together to the door. Peri waited as he strode down the walk toward his car and didn't turn back until the taillights disappeared around the bend along the beach road.
As Peri shut the lights, she glanced up to see Cadence sitting huddled at the top of the stairs. Her heart tightened as she wondered how long she had been sitting there. "Cadence, it's late. You should be in bed." Cadence slowly descended, tears filling her eyes.
"You drove him away didn't you? It's your fault Daddy's leaving us!"
"Oh Cadie your father isn't leaving you, he loves you and your brothers."
She swiped a hand across her face and shouted, "It's your fault! Why can't Daddy stay here? I don't want to be with you! I hate you! I want Daddy!"
"Stop it Cadence; you're not a child anymore! Go upstairs and get some sleep. We'll talk about this as a family when your brothers get here. I know this is difficult; please understand that your father and I tried but we just can't make it work anymore."
Her face filled with anger as she stared at her mother. "We aren't a family," she said through gritted teeth, "because you made Daddy leave." Without another word, she turned, ran up the stairs and slammed her door with finality.
Downtown Metro - Hard Rock Cafe ~ Past Midnight
Determined to attack her blue mood aggressively, and silently swearing never to talk to MJ again as long as she lived, Camilla suited up, spun downtown and spent the evening in half a dozen clubs, running through them, the mood still chasing her. It was close to 2 a.m. before she hit the Hard Rock Café.
As soon as she stepped off the elevator onto the second floor, she saw him. Heydon Mitchell.
Camilla watched him, the curve of his back, something about the way he seemed to sit on one hip, everything said defeat. Now that was too bad. She’d always liked Heydon. Well she’d always liked all of them except Danny and that wasn’t anybody’s fault they just didn’t get along.
“Hi,” Camilla said, sliding onto the stool next to him.
Heydon shot her a sour look. “That seat might be taken.”
“It is taken I just took it.”
A faint smile touched his mouth. “I meant by someone else.”
She matched the smile but kept it friendly. “Do you want me to take another one?”
“No Cam, you can stay. You never ask first, do you?”
“Yes I do sometimes I do it depends.”
Heydon set his drink down on the bar, hooked one boot in the barstool and studied her. He looked tired, but he wasn’t snarling at her. “All right, I’ll play. On what? What slows you down?”
It depended on a lot of different things, but she didn’t intend to talk about herself. It was sort of a rule she’d made; and if she made the rule then it was a rule she didn’t break easily. Nor did she feel like flirting with Heydon. She didn’t pick on wounded animals. She didn't know if his marriage to Peri was going to fail, although she'd had her own doubts about it for years and it sure looked like it was over, at least from the outside. Camilla hesitated, then, in a quiet, serious voice, told him, “Heydon I’m sorry about what happened.”
“Yeah, thanks. I should have seen it coming.” He downed the shot then looked directly at her. “And I finished it off.”
He sure had done that. Cam stared down at the bar, stole a glance at him, absently slipped a stray lock of hair out of her eyes, thought about it. Things were always so complicated when people were in love. She tried to think of something to say and couldn’t come up with anything except that it was one extremely impressive mess. Maybe she should keep her mouth shut for once.
Sliding off the bar stool, she hesitated again. “You know what, Heydon?”
She half expected him to go back to his drink and ignore her, but he got up, smiled at her with a strange, amused expression. “No, but you’re going to tell me, aren’t you?”
That jibe rolled right over her; she was used to that reaction and ignored it. “Sometimes you think you know somebody and you don’t but you don’t want to change that idea. It’s a lot of trouble to do that. You have to give up things. So you keep acting like you’ve got a pair of flats when you’re wearing 4-inch heels and then you fall on your face right in front of everybody and you feel like an idiot and you knock over other people on the way down. And then you don’t have any shoes at all.” She stopped hard, and realized she might have made it worse. The man didn’t need a lecture from her tonight even if he understood what she’d said and he probably hadn’t.
He stared at her, than laughed. “What the hell…but I guess you might be right.”
“Maybe or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.” It was getting late. The bartender shouted out last call. She needed to go try to find a taxi before half the place fought her for one.
Camilla looked at Heydon and briefly considered asking him home, then firmly ditched the idea. She was more than a little drunk, plus she didn’t sleep with her friends. Heydon fell into that category and he didn’t need to complicate his life any further by getting involved with her. So just no. Still, she had to say one more thing.
“You blew it with Selene,” she added frankly, pitching her voice low. “That piece of ass expired a long time ago.” Camilla stopped again. She knew too much, had seen too much, had been in the same places with the same people on the same dirty sheets. “You’re too good for that,” she finished, and turned and started for the elevator.
“Cam,” she heard Heydon say. “Cammie?”
Surprised, Camilla turned a little unsteadily on the heel of her sandal and looked back. Heydon was crossing the room toward her, the black leather of his jacket catching the light, red and gold. He smiled, “Wait up. I’m leaving too.”
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions Chapter 3
at 4:02 AM