Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sessions Chapter 31

South Beach - The Peninsula

Cooper left his bike at the curb, stumbled as he stepped away from it, his vision still blurred, the headache a relentless web of pain. He put his hands to his temples and tried to work through this. He could fix it. Make apologies for the misunderstanding, put it back together. No reason she ever had to know about Gemma. 

He punched in the security code twice, and twice it failed. Someone had changed it. Swearing quietly, Cooper stepped back, looked up at the house, the second story an illusion toppling on him. He could get in from the back but it wouldn't be easy.  He couldn't climb a fence even a fence about a foot tall.

"You should leave." The voice was steady, cool, and close.

Nate stood in the grass near the fountain, his brother a few steps behind him. Both of them had gained height, and they lined up together, blocking the path to the gate and the rear entrance. Weary and anxious, Cooper snarled at his sons, "Open the damned door. I'm not playing games with you."

"You're right," Eric said, taking a stance a few feet behind his brother.  "We're not playing games with you."

Nate smiled, showing teeth, a long cold smile. "Go play somewhere else.  Take it back where you put it last night. Maybe she's missing it by now, never can tell, miracles happen. Either way, you're not getting past us."

Cooper heard a small noise behind him that he thought he recognized but did not spare attention to check.  The dog maybe.  

One long moment of incredulity, incredibility, no, his kid hadn't said that, fuck yeah he had said it, Cooper strode through the damned bush, stomping bush and grass and grabbing his son by the shoulders and slamming him hard against the wall, Nate slipping on the wet grass, head banging on the stone. He heard his son's teeth click together, his own golden eyes glaring back up at him as he pinned Nate against the wall. "You don't go there with me. Do you understand that?" He tightened his grip, demanded again, "Do you understand me?"

"Better than you understand me," Nate shot back at him in a cold and steady voice.

“Better than you understand me,” Nate shot back at him in a cold and steady voice. 

Then from behind him, another voice, the one he’d come here so desperately wanting to hear.  "Cooper, stop it. If you’re looking for understanding, look to me, not your son."

Elise stood in the watery sunlight, watching him, dark eyed, standing in her own shadow as the sun rose over the roof. Cooper dropped Nate, leaving him staggering but defiant, and turned to face her.  The woman who had dragged him up from the shadow and fought to keep him had turned to someone else.
Or had she? What was real? Mel said it was nothing like that, and if he looked at everything from even a slightly different angle, he could see, finally did see another pattern in the picture.

Cooper went to her, looked down at her, unsteady, and said, "We need to talk."

Eric, the son named after his own father, always the cooler of the twins, glanced at his silent brother and then swept blue eyes toward his mother. Waiting. "It's all right," Elise assured him. "We have things we need to settle. Watch Hugs for me will you Eric?"

Cooper suddenly realized with horror that the long breath taken behind him had been from his daughter, from Hugs, not from the dog, and he couldn't even pick her up and reassure her.  Later, he told himself, and for the moment simply smiled down at her.  

Following her through the door into the shaded foyer, Cooper noticed suitcases ominously stacked in the hall. 

He started to demand an explanation then rapidly realized there was only one explanation.

She walked ahead of him into their bedroom, waited for him, closed and locked the door, walked right past him to the doors overlooking the terrace and the ocean and asked in a small voice, "Are you all right?"

"A bitch of a headache but I'll live. I guess I have you to thank for that."

"The headache or the life?"

"Little of both baby." Cooper reached out, touched her cheek, she looked like hell, looked as bad as he felt, but she'd probably spent the night crying instead of the way he'd spent it.

Drawing a long breath, uncertain what to say, what would be enough, he started in on it. "Ellie, I'm sorry. I should not have said that to you, never meant it, I should not have left you there, I'm an ass. I fucked up."

She hesitated, then took a careful and deliberate step away from him, staying out of reach. Ready for it, prepared for the crack of her anger, it didn't come. Tracing something invisible on the glass with the tip of one finger, her voice still, quiet, expression remote, she seemed to force herself to even ask the question. "What made you change your mind?"

He cast a glance at the bed, exhaustion shaking him. If he could put this all aside for a few hours, get her in bed, get some sleep, he'd be better prepared to deal with an ugly explanation, an explanation that was never going to include Gemma, he couldn't even begin to think how he was going to deal with that.

Leaning against the wall for some small support, Cooper considered it, he had to tell her something, "Mel explained what happened, Ryan's working for her, something like that, I went over there and she explained."

The reaction he was waiting for didn't happen. Elise opened the doors and walked out onto the terrace and the blast of sunlight and water. "I owe her then."

Stunned, the last time Mel and her whorehouse had come up, she'd blown the roof off. Cooper walked after her, squinting into the light, pain ripping through his head, he stiffened trying to fight it, reaching out for her, catching her around her waist, pulling her against him, her body pliant and warm and he could breathe again, it was going to work. 

"It doesn't mean anything, you know that. Baby I'm wiped. My head's killing me, every bone and muscle in my body aches. I want to talk, we need to talk but I just need a couple of hours. I'll do anything to make things up to you, anything you want. I'm so damned sorry, baby I love you, you know I love you."

She took his hand, lacing her fingers through his, the clasp gentle, but she was trembling, shaking. "You don't understand. I'm the one who cheated. I've tried, Coop I've tried so hard to make you know it will never happen again, that I regret it, but nothing works. It's broken. It can't be fixed. I can't fight about this anymore. The suitcases by the door, they're yours. You need to take them, you need to cut your losses, and you need to go. I love you, I love you so much, but it's over."


S@n said...

:( So it is finally over! And my heart is crying with Beth's.

It is hard to accept it... I know he wont accept it.
But Beth does look determined to let him go.
Maybe some time away from each other wont be that bad... I think it will help their relationship, maybe it will make it/them stronger.

There is so much love in that relationship, but lies and secrets have always been part of it too... they really need to confide in each other, explain what needs to be explained, and forgive and forget everything what needs to be forgiven, but they need to do it from their bottom of their hearts otherwise it wont work....

I believe he really never forgave her for what she did.. and she couldn't forget either...

I also think, time will help them heal and in a nearby future if they come back together, they can make it work, starting from ZERO, without lies, or secrets, without what the shadows of what they did in the past...

This was an awesome chapter...
beautiful written, Beth barely talked, but her facial expressions and her movements/poses really showed all the pain she was feeling...

I feel sorry for Coop... he really messed up... and the consequences will reach him sooner or later...he might not say it to Beth.. but he knows what he did, and it will haunt him...

it must be difficult to be a Rock Star's son...
seems like the twins don't really have any respect for Cooper... he made some mistakes, but we (as children) have no right to judge our parents...

again, this chapter was amazing, the shots were incredible... the poses, the faces, everything was perfect!!

S.B. said...

S@ndy, thank you so much.

We discussed this and worked through it very slowly. Gayl took all the shots based on very little except what was in the text.

I feel sorry for both of them. Whether or not Cooper forgave her for Ryan, he certainly never forgot it and it took almost nothing to make him flare up.

The twins haven't spent a lot of time with their father, and their sympathy is with their mother. The sympathy is somewhat misplaced, but it's there. I don't think they're judging him for his lifestyle so much (they are teenage boys after all) but for what they think it's doing to their mother.

Again, thank you so much S@ndy. Your support means a great deal to both of us!!

Qui. said...

I am shocked. I don't know if it's disappointment or what but damn!

One thing I can say is, the boys are protective of her and it shows. Each time Coop has hurt their mother, they stood by her like guards.

The writing was beautiful. matched the shots perfectly! I could feel what both of them were feeling. Coop being tired and really wanting to fix it, Beth really feeling that she is at the end of her rope. To the point where she can't express any other emotion.

Such a sad but beautiful update.

Rad said...

Really good to see more of the twins (though a shame it was in these circumstances). As much as Coop might wish he was a different man, his reaction to nate shows how far he still has to go.

The shot above them walking by the beach - the poses and expressions in that are just perfect.

This needed to happen, whether it is about just pressing stop for a while, or whether it's about pressing eject. Coop and Beth's lives were becoming toxic, and it's clear that Rayne and Wyatt at least have been tainted by that (and maybe the twins to).

It's like the Joy Division song says, love will tear us apart.

S.B. said...

Qui, that sense of disconnection was what we wanted - Beth too tired to feel anything anymore, Cooper physically exhausted but still determined to make things work the way he wants them to work.

The twins are definitely protective!

Thank you!!

S.B. said...

Rad: Cooper still has a ways to go in connecting with and understanding his children, and Beth isn't much better. They have all been affected by the anger between Coop and Beth.

It had become way too toxic, and the other shoe, Gemma, is still there waiting to drop.

Perfect example: love will tear us apart. Just perfect.

Van said...


She's right, though. Sometimes, no matter how much people love each other, it just breaks beyond repair. It took a lot of strength for her to finally admit to that.

Maybe, if they take some time to get away from all the drama and just go their separate ways for a while, they could possibly--just possibly--start anew. And possibly not. I suppose we'll see.

Beautiful writing here. Tragic, yet beautiful.

Valpre said...

Wow, I wasn't expecting that ending. It's just heartbreaking and sad. But I guess Beth is right,they are way too broken to be fixed. The fact that Cooper was willing to work things out but not confess to the stint with Gemma is just one of the many cracks in their marriage. Maybe some time apart will do them good. And I just love those two boys, standing up to to their big bad old dad. Everything about Beth in this piece just broke my heart. That has to be bravest thing she's done in a long time, staring at the ugly truth and admitting things have to change.

S.B. said...

Thank you Van.

Watching Cooper come close to being killed over a casual meeting in the street pretty much did it. He's too important to her. Separating, either temporarily or permanently, will give both of them a chance to decide how to go on without hurting each other.

S.B. said...

Val: kind of surprised people are surprised!

The lifestyle in general is hard on their marriage: being apart so much and so much thrown at them. Ryan was a huge crack that was never adequately repaired. Stevie and all the rest of Cooper's flirtations just piled on more pressure. Gemma, if and when that comes out, will be a terrible problem. They do love each other but things have to change.

Those boys are something else!

thelook said...

OMG! Okay I have officially died from shock! This piece is very touching and I think if it were a trilogy it would probably end here for the reader to make their own conclusions - but don't get any ideas! This story is amazing with stunning pictures and if we could live forever it should too. That's my weird way of saying I love your work and Gayl's.

Anywho, when Cooper said I'll do whatever you want I just thought 'If she says leave you'll do that? Yeah right.'

But when Beth actually said that I think - no, wait my heart did break for Cooper. He is not the best of people at the best of times but really. His world has ended. When he slept or raped or whatever he calls it that happened with Gemma there was a line about 'never getting the girl he wanted'. I can't help but wonder if it were a parallel universe would it be the same? Maybe not. But I can only hope it wouldn't be.

The thing is I noticed (I am so late on these kind of things) that Cooper's career always gets in the way of his private life. With Julia it was that crazy psychopath scientist whose name escapes me then Lola killed her. With Beth it was Ryan. All because Cooper wanted to prevent what happened to Julia. Except it has actually ended up a little less worse. Julia was the death of his first love but Beth is the death of his heart.

And you know the worst part is, if Beth did say stay he wouldn't have mentioned Gemma. Crack. Beth might not have spoke about Rayne and Ryan. Crack. Crack, crack, crack until it breaks. And now, it has.

But on a lighter note the boys are looking quite mighty fine. And sticking up to Cooper! Everyone is doing that now. Soon there will be a revolution against Coop. Although he's already unleashed it to himself.

PS. This chapter and the one where Rayne is squished between an arguing Beth and Cooper reminds of two amazing Paramore songs Turn It Off and Misguided Ghosts . Especially these lines:
'We're headed for a cliff
And in the free fall
I will realize I'm better off
When I hit the bottom'

'And now I'm told that this is life
That pain is just a simple compromise
So we can get what we want out of it
Would someone care to classify?
A broken heart and some twisted minds
So I can find someone to rely on
And run to them, to them'

PPS. Just read everyone else's comments and I agree 100% plus a trillion.
PPPS. Clicking on the links are totally optional. :)

S.B. said...



That is exactly what we were trying to do!! The whole loop, from the beginning, the constant conflict between Cooper's passion for music and performing and the impact it has on his private life, from losing Julia, to trying to prevent that from happening again by hiring Ryan, to leaving Beth with Ryan for too long, it never does work for him. He tries, but it never does. He lost his first love, and yes, now he's losing his heart.

If Beth had asked him to stay, Gemma would be there between them. And Ryan and Rayne. Ugly secrets sucking at both of them privately, both of them trying to manage the secrets, trying to protect each other from the fallout, always wary and uneasy and looking for it. She doesn't know about Gemma (and she was a stand in for Julia, whether he slept with her or raped her, it was Julia). He doesn't know about his daughter and Ryan (and Cooper would kill Ryan or die trying if he finds out about that). Those are such horrific secrets, it's hard to know how they can ever share them with each other.

The twins are growing up, and they've got a big dose of the Cooper genes. Stubborn, arrogant and passionate.

and your links to the Paramore songs are incredible!!! OMG thank you!!!

And again, for seeing the links and loops, the whole long connection and what it means to Cooper, and for taking to time to write it down....JUST ONE BIG FREAKING THANK YOU!!!

Muzegoddess said...

I read this last night and cried a bit; couldn't comment until I thought about it. So...this might be long.

This is a sad siutaiton that was inevitable. At first I was bothered by the fact that he didn't go in there throwing out confessions, begging for forgiveness, etc. But then I realized 1) That's not Cooper and 2)that he just wanted to fix it, cut off the turmoil, apologize, and leave out all the dirty laundry. It's self-serving but it was a very human thing to do.

I understand why Beth wants to end this. Regardless of what he did with Gemma he isn't past what she did with Ryan. The trust isn't there, clearly. I think there also might have been some subconcious part of Cooper that needed to even the score with her. This situation gave him the excuse to do it; I don't think he would've otherwise.

They've both been through a lot and need atleast a break from each other, but I don't see Cooper just picking up his bags and leaving like a good little boy. He's too used to getting what he wants.

The emotion here was captured perfectly in the writing and the shots and there is no part of this that wasn't absolutely fantastic.

S.B. said...

Muzegoddess, this bothered us to write it. Not easy.

Cooper would not go in there throwing out confessions and begging for forgiveness. He didn't want to lose the woman he loves, and telling her he'd jumped his dead wife's look alike right after he left her to deal with the ex she'd tried to hit over the head with a pipe to save his ass...not a great move. Coop isn't past Ryan. It wasn't just the sex, it was the emotional connection. Was Gemma payback? Maybe part of it yes.

Beth saw the man she loves hurling himself into a suicidal situation. Ryan would have killed him. It scared her half to death. And then she got what? Her man smacking her down. It just was not working anymore. They were at each other about anything and everything. They really do love each other, but they do need to take a step back. If the love wasn't there, it would be easy.

And yes, Cooper wants what he wants and he's not at all likely to give up.

Thank you so much. This has been a long and difficult arc to write.

Ning said...

Oh no.. :'( Even though I can understand, from reading through others' comments, how they can't stay together anymore, it's still painful to see it happening. Maybe time will heal this, but after fighting to stay together for so long, this ending makes it all seem so... wasted. :( It's just all so sad.

I was wondering why Beth looked so uncomfortable in the third last picture--now I know why. *sigh* She was already prepared to say goodbye. Even without Gemma from Cooper's side, Beth herself couldn't meet him halfway. Ryan has always been present and she's finally realising this.

Last but not least, I'm half-shocked to see how the twins totally disregarded Cooper. (Half, because I already knew they were going against Cooper, just.. I didn't know it was to this extent.) And that Beth has to assure them that it's okay before they would back down. It's a little scary. It's like they're trying to get in control over their parents' affairs. No matter how much they wished to protect Beth, it really isn't their place, I find. :\

MedleyMisty said...

I sometimes don't comment on stuff I read because everyone has all these in depth comments about the characters and relationships and I just can't do that.

But this was obviously a very important update and I wanted to say something.

The writing is beautiful. You have such a unique style, and it's a style that I can get into and enjoy. The way you put your sentences together really gets across the intensity and rush of the emotions, and you choose the best words for what you're trying to do.

And I was reading your replies to the comments and noticed the bit about "sleep with her or rape her" - I was wondering about that because I did notice that we didn't really see if Gemma was into it or not.

I am very much looking forward to seeing what happens after this.

S.B. said...

ning, yes the twins stepped way over the line for appropriate behavior. From their perspective, their father spends months on the road touring and they've sort of filled the vacuum, taking care of their mother, and they see her hurting. Right at that moment, Beth wasn't focused on smacking them down, but it's the kind of thing that will happen. She certainly put Rayne in her place.

I'm not sure Gemma would have been a dealbreaker despite what Cooper thinks. It might have made them 'even' in a terrible sense, and it would have been proof that they could be honest with each other. Cooper's anger and the pain behind it drove her decision. They are hurting each other; she believes it is ultimately her fault; she tried to fix it and failed. Time to take a giant step back before any more damage is done.

This may not be the end for them. Like you said, they have a long and very close relationship, and they are still very much in love.

thank you!

S.B. said...

Stacy, I am absolutely thrilled! Thank you!! Writing doesn't come as easily to me as it does to some people, I have to sneak up on it and coax it, so that means more to me than I can express.

We deliberately left Gemma's reaction ambiguous, but it's probably safe to say that confusion was probably her strongest negative reaction. However, it was a dark moment for Cooper, something he will undoubtedly regret and hopefully never repeat.

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. Really, much much appreciated.

The Lunar Fox said...

Like the past couple of updates, this one left me stunned. The picture of the suitcases is classic. She's clearly had enough, and she's going to go.

I love (in a bad way) the thought that creeps into his head when he sees the suitcases. "Nobody was going anywhere." That's so Cooper, isn't it? The man thinks he has a choice in a matter like this? Of course he thinks he does.

And of course the last of his children turn against him. I really did feel for him right there until he practically threw his kid against the wall.

I did not see that end coming though I thought she was super-humanly calm. Her calm was such an interesting contrast to his thoughts about Gemma. And it was so telling that he consciously was deciding to not tell her about that. It only proves her point to us.

S.B. said...

Lunar, we've known for a while that this was the only way it could play out. The last big blowup they had, she took the kids and left, but took him back almost immediately. It wasn't going to happen that way again. It's been a particularly unpleasant arc to see and write, for both of us.

The super human calm is, of course, a physical illusion based on sheer exhaustion and emotional overload. After a night spent crying and wrestling with such a decision, sometimes there's nothing much left when it comes down to actually executing that decision. The calm won't last.

It is sad that his children turn against him. Cooper really does care about his children, but his absence and his lifestyle consistently throw them into conflict with him.

And yes he thinks he has a choice. The decision not to say anything about Gemma was part of that choice, wrestle the situation back under his control. It's a very human and natural decision, particularly for a man like Coop.

thank you from both of us!

Phoenix said...

Finally got caught up and let me say that this chapter(and arc) coudln't have ended on a better note. A more realistic note as well!

Coop always wants to push things back the way he thinks they should be without wanting to talk about how they got that way to begin with. Obviously he was going to ignore the whole thing with Gemma but does he really think that she's just going to let it go? Seriously?? That's blackmail just waiting to happen. She has him in the palm of his hand and he hasn't realize it yet.

I really liked how Beth stood her ground. First with Ryan in the previous posts and then with Coop. Hopefully she'll have the chance to focus on herself and the kids...because those kids need some attention. For the most part it's been about Coop and Beth and secrets. The boys are really growing up. Wow! I was really stunned with them standing up to Coop(not that he didn't deserve that crack but still...O_o).

I'm really not sure if I want Coop and Beth to get back together. Honestly they might be better apart than together. Only time will tell!

You two are just amazing! I'm gone and I come back to tension and things blowing up and then the final showdown...wow! Awesome! I seriously don't know how you guys make everything so tension filled and then bring it all back! Just...I love it!! ♥♥

Laura said...

Maybe now is as good a time as any to delurk?

Awww, this would be a classic example of how sometimes love isn't enough. Especially when there's so many underlying things unresolved.

But this was a very brave thing for her (and for you guys) to decide. Hopefully it will bring them both to a better place in the end, whether that's back together or apart for good.

I'm looking forward to finding out.

S.B. said...

Laura, I am honored beyond words! You delurked for us?

We try to be brave! Those two, maybe yes, maybe no.

Thank you so much!!!

S.B. said...

awww Phoenix, thank you from both of us!! We've been working this particular arc very hard, so glad you think it's realistic and works.

I'm not sure Beth is the type to sit at home and focus on the kids. Not for very long even if she tried very hard to find satisfaction in doing that. The twins definitely need some direction at this point though.

Cooper isn't going to just give up. That's for certain. Neither of them will be happy apart. But it had to happen.

Thank you so much!!!

Rachel said...

I'm finally caught up...but what a chapter to catch up to!

I had a feeling something like this was coming, but I wasn't sure. Beth seemed so determined to explain to him that he had the wrong idea...but she had to know that Cooper was off doing something horrible. He has such poor impulse control that it was inevitable.

They love each other, but they aren't good for each other anymore. They are bringing out the worst in each other and it's painful to watch, especially for their children. The twins are so angry at him...I really wonder how this will affect them later.

It's hard for me to feel bad for Cooper here. His lack of trust in the face of Beth waiting for him and overlooking so many indiscretions was bad enough, but his delusional hope to keep his night with Gemma a secret is especially angering. Has it ever worked out for him when he's tried to keep something from Beth? He is a creature of habit, to be sure.

Uh oh...sorry for the book here! I'm going to shut up now and wait for the next update with everyone else!

S.B. said...

Rachel, thank you, thank you for reading and taking the time to let us know what you think. It means so much to both of us.

Cooper is impulsive. Big arrogant rock star. Has it ever worked out for him when he's tried to keep something quiet? Not anything important, no. Apart from his relationship with Stevie, I doubt he considered any of it important.

Which is why he was so enraged about Beth and Ryan. That was not a casual relationship. They cared about each other a great deal; they loved each other. The emotion made that transgression horrific and he never got past it.

They do love each other, but they're hurting each other and hurting their children.

We appreciate your time and attention so much. Thank you!