just like a distant star
I simply cannot hold.
Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love alive?
South Beach - West Harbor Place: 5 PM
Blade was late. The date had been casually arranged, whenever he finished at the studio, but whenever had a limit and he'd passed it by half an hour. Beth wandered from store to store and restlessly picked up and discarded sweaters, dolls, cheese graters, an 'as seen on tv' thing that steamed the wrinkles out of your clothes, a purple bed-in-a-bag, finally stopping to examine a tray of silver rings. She had done her Christmas shopping. She shouldn't be looking at rings and thinking about how they'd look on Cooper.
She shouldn't be doing a lot of things. She shouldn't be hunkering down with her laptop at 2 a.m. googling Cooper to find out what he was doing and who he was seeing. She shouldn't be waiting for another man who was late.
Beth saw the woman only seconds before the woman saw her, too late to pretend she hadn't, too late to run. The woman, glancing around as if looking for another way out, hesitated. Was she considering simply walking away? Wishing she would, caught between a toothy green plant and a fountain, Beth waited. The woman did not walk away. She looked directly at her drawing a deep breath as if mustering the courage to step forward. She was, Beth saw, knowing what she would see but still reluctant to look, she was definitely pregnant. Thin and elegant and pregnant.
What do you do when you run into the woman carrying your husband's child? Speakers caroled 'Oh Holy Night' and other lovely hymns about babies and light and love and lions lying down with lambs. Forcing her mouth into a really big smile, Beth met the other woman's uneasy gaze. "Gemma Wilson? We haven't met but I know you're acquainted with my..my daughter. I'm Beth Stanfield."
The woman stroked back locks of her long black hair with a breakable hand. Her whole body looked breakable. "Hello, yes, it's a pleasure to finally meet you. Rayne has said so much about you."
Both of them knew that was a lie. Beth kept smiling. Gemma passed her shopping bag from one hand to another. She looked remarkably like Julia, based on Julia's photos since Beth had never actually met Julia. Cooper had always managed to keep them from running into one another, not that he had had to try very hard since Beth had not wanted to meet Julia, and she was pretty sure Julia had felt the same way. If she had lived, eventually they would have met.
Had he fantasized he was in bed with Julia when he was screwing Gemma? Had Gemma played at being Julia when she put her tongue in Cooper's mouth? She felt warm and faintly sick.
It would be polite to mention Gemma's 'condition'. She couldn't. She couldn't scream, couldn't slap the woman, couldn't make a scene. But she could deliberately refuse to mention the pregnancy, and she could deliberately refuse to return the pleasure. "Yes, well, I'm meeting someone." And that was it, close the sentence, shut the paragraph, punctuate it and wait for her to walk away.
Mild relief washing over her face, Gemma escaped down the sidewalk toward the street, and from very close behind, right at her shoulder, Beth heard Blade approach and begin to apologize. "I'm late, sorry babe. Duff wasn't happy with a track..." His voice tapered off as he followed her gaze. She didn't move, still watching Gemma, wondering if that was baby clothes in the shopping bag, her stomach in a knot and her heart an empty dreary hole.
"Let's go over there." Blade slipped one arm around her waist and turned her firmly away from Gemma. "There's something I want to talk to you about, and I don't like these damned trees, always feels like they're going to try to eat me."
"You'd better get used to it." Emerging from the tropical rain forest, Beth leaned against the balustrade, took in a deep breath of cool salt air, swept her hair back from her face while cautiously sliding one finger under her eyes. She didn't think she was going to cry again, she hoped she wasn't, not right now. "South Beach is full of them."
He kept her close, hip pressing against hers, arm around her waist, quiet, giving her time. It was late afternoon and the sailboats were returning to the windward side of the bay, a popular, pretty, peaceful and very expensive anchorage. Blade finally turned away from the view and put an end to the silence. "I take it you're acquainted with the mommy in waiting back there?"
"I know who she is." Glaring up at him, losing some of her control, Beth snapped, "Do not make assumptions. Don't ask 'who's the father'."
"I wasn't going to ask. I told you I wouldn't say one word about him. Do you want to talk about it or do you want to drop it?"
A couple of girls strolled by and stared at them, wide eyed, obviously recognizing the frontman for Flight. The attention wasn't as overwhelming as it was when she was - when she had been - out with Coop, but it was there. Blade had signed a woman's bare back three days ago and laughed as he scrawled his name across her shoulders. It didn't matter. She didn't care. She was dropping it.
Blade flashed that charismatic grin at the girls. His charm came naturally, not entirely unlike Cooper’s and yet nowhere near the same. "We're throwing a party tonight at Rob's place to celebrate the RMA nominations, nothing elaborate, the band and a few friends. It'll run late. You could...bring an overnight bag." He waggled his brows at her, playing, making it a kind of joke except it wasn't a joke.
"Blade, I'm not staying all night - Ericca's not available and Rayne has some promo shots tomorrow morning, so she won't babysit that late either." She did not add 'and I wouldn't anyway', leaving it there, on the table, a possibility, and he smiled as he caught it, caught it silently and kept it silently.
"Speaking of Rayne," balancing on the balustrade, long legs stretched out, maybe showing off the length or maybe just sitting there as he spoke of Rayne, "it seems Duff has a bit of a crush on her. He bought a painting of her not knowing who she was and hung it up on his wall. Not like him to be that obsessed over a girl and even harder to believe he didn’t know who she was, but we're teasing him mercilessly."
Mercilessly. Beth slid in, straddling Blade's left leg, watching him watching her. She would not be spending the night. She smiled down at him as he shifted his weight and closed his legs around her.
They stopped to watch a boy playing a guitar out on the beach in the failing light, his body curved over the instrument, caressing it, passionate and oblivious. Long light brown hair fell over his face. Beth faltered, lingering, listening. "She has her admirers...she is, after all, a lot like her father."
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions ends with this chapter. The story continues in Studio Time. The next chapter is Studio Time One.
Authors' Notes: We had so many problems with this. People lost their hair and eyebrows and clothes. Lots crashed (this one crashed at least 8 times during the process of taking the shots) so I could not add any interesting clutter to my staggering game. The sky mod made the bridge disappear. Collection files and pose boxes didn't show up on the community lot so it had to be rezoned over and over again. Glad to be done with this set.