Monday, November 2, 2009
Sessions 18 - Hangnail
My hopes just fell, and I can't see
The reason why, why there is blood on my sleeve
And all this time, I thought it mine
But it's not, it's yours...
soundtrack: Hangnail - Nickelback
Bay View - Harbor Place 10 PM
Cooper moved fluidly down Harbor Street each heavy footfall echoed the steady beating of his heart as the aroma of garlic wafted from the nearby Italian restaurant. Stopping briefly at the corner Cooper inhaled and took a hard left heading for the crosswalk.
It had been a long time since Cooper had been in this part of Bay View but it hadn't changed much. Making his way around the corner, he headed toward Lyon Street and stopped before he reached the intersection and considered what he was about to do. The kiss he shared with Stevie, that kiss had been a bucket of ice water thrown squarely in his face. It was not his intention to seduce her, never what he wanted. Acutely aware of what his actions had put in motion, he needed to deal with it hard and fast.
She was waiting at the bistro sipping a coffee and looking pensive. Cooper hesitated, maybe this wasn't the best idea after all, meeting her like this, and he considered leaving when she looked up and smiled at him warmly.
At that moment he realized that everything was going to change for all of them. His impulsive decision to quit touring, made in one heated moment when he had challenged McDermott, had not brought him closer to his wife or his family. It seemed to have had the opposite effect. Beth was distant and wary, Rayne openly confrontational. His twin sons - Nate glared and Eric avoided him. The band was coming apart; he was losing his closest friends. And now this thing with Stevie, an undeniable and ominous shift in their relationship from friendship to groping in the men’s room in a photographer’s studio.
Cooper glanced to his left and then made his way toward her more aware than ever of what he wanted, what he needed, and what was best. Stevie rose from her seat and reached out to embrace him, an embrace he did not return.
"Is everything all right?"
Whether it was concern or confusion on her face Cooper was not sure. His reply was as stiff as his posture, "Everything's fine. Walk with me."
Stevie hesitated, and then grabbed her bag hurrying to catch up. "Sure. Where are we going?"
Music from a dance club above them filled the streets as they walked in silence. Whatever conversation passed between them was nothing more than casual pleasantries, constant chatter mostly from Stevie, awkward and uncomfortable. They moved further down the street through people, past myriad shops and closer to the wharf until Stevie stopped short and grabbed Cooper's arm.
"This is ridiculous," she snapped. "Don't put what happened at the photo shoot all on me Cooper. You were in the moment as much as I was. So if you have something to say about that, just say it but do not pretend it didn't mean something." She stood arms folded and waited.
Cooper pulled her toward a corner of the patio before responding. "We crossed a line Stevie, it never should have happened. What the hell were you thinking anyway, that I was going to take you right there in the men's room? If I hadn't pushed you away..." Cooper looked away, irritation bordering on anger lacing his words.
“If you hadn't pushed me away, you just might have. You wanted it at that moment as much as I did," Stevie's voice was low and steady. "Did you ever consider what would have happened between us if I had come for you when you left Julia for good?"
Agitated, Cooper paced back and forth and then leveled his gaze on her. When had this happened? Had Stevie been thinking about ‘what if’ for all these years? He hadn’t suspected it, always assumed she understood that the flirtation was nothing more than that. He didn’t want to hurt her, but this had gone past flirtation into something he didn't want to deal with.
Releasing an exasperated breath, Cooper pulled her toward him and firmly held her shoulders, and then dropped his hands to his side. “Stevie, I’m going to be honest; I never considered it, never thought about going back to you, and it wouldn’t have gotten you anywhere if you’d come after me. If I’d wanted you, I would have done something about it. Listen to me - I take responsibility for behaving like an ass, giving you the impression I wanted more than friendship, and that damned ‘moment’ in the men’s room, doesn’t matter how much I might have wanted to take you, that was not going to happen. I have the woman I want, and she gives me what I need, everything I need. I don’t need you and I don’t love you.”
Stevie held his gaze for several moments. "I don't believe you Cooper. Beth isn't equipped to understand this lifestyle, and that is exactly why you gave up something that makes you thrive. What you needed was someone who would have fought hard to make you see that. Maybe you need to think about that."
His mouth tightened as he stared down at her. The slam pissed him off. Equipped? Of all people, Stevie should realize how fucked up he’d been when he’d split with Julia, and how far he’d come, and he hadn’t made it on his own. “I don’t know where you get the idea that she doesn’t understand what she’s dealing with. She let me know what she thought about my decision – she’s capable of making her point – but it was my decision. I’m going to make this very clear - no one, not you or anyone else, is in any position to tell me who I should have married or what I need.”
Stevie dropped her gaze, her hands clenched. Cooper expected her to come back at him, she always did, but not this time. She looked down and said nothing.
Cooper abruptly turned. "I said what I came to say. I'm taking you back to the bistro."
They walked back in silence until they reached Lyon Street again. Cooper stopped, took Stevie's arm and turned her toward him. "I don’t need you to fix me anymore, Stevie. Whatever issues I have, I’ll work those out with my wife. But you and I...this ends right now." He shook his head, brushing away any regret, and swept cold, hard eyes back to her. "Goodbye Stevie."
Bay View - Holloway Residence
Shaun finished cleaning the kitchen and stood at the sink rinsing his hands when he saw her reflection in the window. Without looking up he greeted her. "You're home late. Do you want something to eat?"
Stevie walked silently to the kitchen table and sank into a chair. "I'm not hungry, thanks. Is Dev asleep?"
Walking over to her, he placed his hands on her shoulders, bent down and kissed her head and replied, "Yeah, he's asleep. You're tense baby; come on, get up and I'll give you a massage." As he began kneading her shoulders Shaun idly asked, "So where've you been?"
Shaun felt her tighten again as she rose and turned to face him. "I met Coop downtown; he wanted to talk."
Struggling to keep his face neutral Shaun stepped back and placed his hands on his hips. "Is that so...and you neglected to tell me this before?"
"Something happened..." she started.
"No shit!" Anger in his voice slowly began to make its way to his face. Whatever the something was, he’d been anticipating it, holding off saying anything to Cooper about it, figuring she would listen to him when he asked her to stay away from him. And that, he thought, watching her avoid looking at him, that had been a mistake.
"Shaun just let me explain before you go assuming the worst." He followed her to the living room and waited, silent and angry, for her to continue.
Stevie let out a breath and went right into it. "The other day, at the photo shoot, things got a little out of hand. Cooper lost it, stormed off, and I followed him." She hesitated briefly and then finished, "I kissed him, Shaun. It didn't go any further than the kiss. We...he broke it off. I wish I could say it didn't mean anything to me but I can't."
Shaun stood with his back to the stairwell and held himself still for a moment, a long moment. The damned dishwasher cut in behind him and churned, churned like his stomach. Cooper lost it and stormed off. When didn’t he lose it? His wife had come onto Coop because he stomped around looking unhappy and waiting for Stevie to fix it for him, that’s what he’d done. That’s what he always did. Coop got mad or his wife fucked up or some kind of shit happened, and there was Stevie, picking up the pieces for him, and it looked like she wanted to keep doing it.
His voice eerily quiet, Shaun asked, "So this big talk you had...are you two running off into the sunset? Is that what this is about?"
Stevie hung her head and replied softly, "No. He ended it, the friendship, all of it. I made a terrible, terrible mistake. I'm sorry Shaun, I never meant to hurt you and I do love you, I just..." She stopped mid-sentence as Shaun turned his back on her and ran his hands through his hair.
I just…it was always I just with Cooper. Whatever Cooper needed and whatever Cooper wanted but the deal was, Cooper didn’t need shit. Cooper knew exactly what he was doing. His face was hard, his eyes cold as ice, "I hope that kiss was worth the price Stevie, worth your marriage, your family. But it sure wasn't worth it to Coop."
"Shaun, I'm so sorry," she pleaded, "we can work this out. I swear I will make this up to you, make things right again."
"I can't even look at you right now. Would you have run off with him if you had the chance? You know what; I don't even want to know the answer to that. I've had it. I'm out of here."
He'd heard enough, and had enough. Without looking back, he held his hand up to stop her, pushed open the door and walked away.
NEXT CHAPTER: Chameleon Chapter 4