Monday, August 9, 2010

Sessions Chapter 33

"He's outside." Melinda shut the door and looked at her warily. It had been a long drive from South Beach, raining all the way, and Elise had that dinner date tonight looming. She hadn't slept. She was nervous. She was irritable. She was scared. She was going somewhere she should not go to open something she should keep closed. And the door was open and it was too late to run away.

"Thank you," Elise said, trying to sound rational and calm. She hadn't considered Melinda and Ryan as a couple of any kind and it no longer mattered. She'd called her, she'd asked if Melinda would set it up, and she had, so here she was. "I appreciate this. I shouldn't be more than a few minutes, I won't get in your way."

Melinda looked at her for a long, uncomfortable moment before replying. "You're not in my way, and he's expecting you."

That had not come out the way she meant it.  Embarrassed, wondering how she was supposed to talk to this woman, wondering how many times she'd done Coop, what she'd seen him do. Elise mumbled something apologetic and escaped in the direction Melinda pointed. The last thing she wanted right now, apart from what she intended to do, was to think about Cooper and Melinda.

She pushed open the door and walked out onto a low deck facing a rocky shore and heavy surf. Ryan stood with his back to a pine twisted by the wind, his arms folded across his chest, watching her as she walked to him through deep sand.

"Elise," he said, taking her name, giving it back to her. "Are you all right?"

The wind whipped her hair across her mouth. Elise swept it back from her face, more uncertain now than ever about her motives, stepped into the lee Ryan himself created. "You almost killed my husband. I'm definitely not all right."

He raised one eyebrow, snorted in derision. "He'll hurt for a couple of days, but I didn't come close to killing him and you know it. Come on, Elise, you're not here to complain about his damned headache."

No she wasn't. "Is there someplace we can sit?"

Ryan jerked his head toward a pile of boulders. "You've got a choice: a wet rock or a wet chair. I recommend the chair."

The rock might be the better choice. Lawn chairs carried memories, Ryan landing hard in the sand when a deck chair collapsed under his weight, laughing, blaming her for sabotaging the chair, abandoning the chair, both of them sitting on the beach watching thunderheads sail across the horizon into the sunset, a long time ago.

She followed him toward the chairs. It was just a chair after all.  Ryan picked up one of them, shook it free of sand, set it back down, and said, "Have a seat."

He pulled the other chair around to face her, eased his weight down onto it, clasped his hands loosely between long legs and studied her. The wind blew his red hair across his face, the freckled nose, long honey brown eyes. It suddenly became difficult to sit so close to him. She crossed her legs and tried to steady her breathing. "It's all right," Ryan assured her, quiet, gentle. "I'm not coming any closer. Tell me why you're here."

"Coop and I separated." It wasn't why she was here but it was a start.

He looked down, then directly back at her. "I know, I heard about it. You know my opinion; I'm not offering condolences. The last time I saw you, you said you never wanted to see me again and kissed me goodbye with a steel pipe across the back of my head. What's going on, what do you want?"

"I...Ryan, there are some things, well there is one thing, there's something I have to tell you."

She shifted on the uneven slats, uncomfortable, dug her heels into the sand, clenched her hands together in her lap, all while Ryan continued to study her from a distance of only a few inches. This was going to hurt him, and she had already hurt him enough. It had seemed like a good idea in the middle of the night, get rid of all the secrets, scrape them out, scour everything clean.

Scouring someone else down to the bleeding core did not seem like such a great idea now that she was looking at this man. She was here, scour she would do.

"I know about Rayne. I know what she did to you, what you both did. You and Rayne, you and my daughter." One long hard push and there it was. "You slept with my daughter."

He jerked back as if stung, got to his feet, the chair toppled over into the grit and the water coming up into the sand. Beth leaped after him, banging her hip on the other chair, and put one hand on his back. "Ryan?  I'm sorry."

He kept his back turned to her, gazing at the water, at the bridge, something anything except her. She felt him draw a long breath, felt it through her hand. Still not looking at her, his voice thick and unsteady, Ryan said, "Don't apologize, you don't have a damned thing to apologize for. Elise, I didn't know it was Rayne...I was stinking blind drunk, I thought it was you. I don't know what to say to you, I don't know what harm I did to Rainie, I should have said something to you when I found out, but I swear I didn't know it was her."

"I know. Ryan, I know.  I don't think it caused her any harm other than regret. She's very headstrong, and I know it sounds strange, but she's looking for someone.  You're not him.  It's bad, it was a bad thing, you should not should have made sure, but no one is irreparably harmed."

"God I hope not. I apologized to her, I asked her if she needed anything, if there was anything I could do.  She turned me down."

They stood there in silence, only the wind and the rasp of surf dragging pebbles out into the water and drowning them.  "Tell me something," Ryan finally said, looking down at her, "what are you doing? You forced him out? Strategy to force his ass back into line, or are you moving on?"

She still heard Cooper's voice, the message he'd left last night, the aching empty hole in her life without him.. moving on felt like dying. "He wasn't happy, isn't happy.  I don't know if I can make him happy again.  I destroyed it, the trust, I destroyed all of it."

Ryan shook his head, a short derisive bark of harsh laughter.  "You're always taking the blame. He didn't deserve your trust."

"He's a good man -"

He abruptly grabbed her arms, his expression fierce and cut in hard. "Bullshit! He's an arrogant son of a bitch and you know it!"

"And I'm his wife, and I cheated on him! He has a right to be angry!"

He tried to yank her around and threw one hard demanding question directly at her like a knife strike aimed right at her heart.  "Elise, do you love me?"

This was not why she was here, not to answer that question.  Elise pulled hard, trying to break free of his grip, he held on, tightening it. "I'm not waiting for you," so close she could feel his breath against her skin, remembering the taste of his skin, remembering his mouth, remembering everything, "I love you, but I'm not waiting. I won't let you come around me again after this, it's the end. You came here, you know why you came here.  Be honest with me and yourself for one damned last fucking time!"

She shook her head, refusing, and he tightened his hold on her, demanding, ordering, "Tell me!"

What was she waiting for? For clarity? For honesty? Wasn't that why she was here? Why was she here? Emotion sunk sharp teeth into her and shook her until she gasped and cried out, "I love Cooper more, I always have, I always will. It ends here and that's my choice no matter what you decide. This is the very last time and that's the truth you say you want."

Ryan didn't let go. He pulled her close, wrapped his arms around her, holding on, giving his warmth strength heartbeat, the ocean of pain and tears pounding through her against that massive strength. It would tear him down. In time it would tear down a mountain. For now, the mountain still stood, resting his chin against her forehead, taking her pain, silent, wet, windblown, shaking, but still standing. Still there, this time, this one last time.


Rad said...

And just when you thought maybe, just maybe, they could all have a clean break. Oh, Beth. What are we to do with you?

As a matter of interest, does Beth have (m)any close friends or family that can give her some love and some advice? I don't recall anyone she would really regard as a confidante rather than people that are just in her life in some manner and where there is tension in some way.

This set is beautiful, by the way.

Phoenix said...

Why did Beth go to him? To clear the air? Why when she told him everything was over? This doesn't solve anything...I guess maybe it gives the both of them a clean break. I noticed that she used the 'loved him'. Past tense for Ryan and present for Coop.

That second to last shot had me feeling bad for Beth. She really looks tore up like she doesn't know where to go, who to go to. It's a sad mess and I think it's only going to get messier before it gets better. If it gets better.

I really hope that Ryan moves on. He needs to.

I really love the work you two do. It just keeps getting better and better.

Van said...

I do think they needed to talk, but Ryan definitely needs to move on. They both do. Although I think this talk was, at the very least, a good step toward the closure they both need.

I guess we'll just have to see how that dinner date goes. I can't imagine it'll go all that well. Both Beth and Cooper are too overwhelmed right now. They do need to take some time for themselves.

I love what you're doing here. The design is so richly detailed. There isn't a thread out of place :)

S.B. said...

Rad, she's pretty isolated. And wary. Anything she confides could come back to hurt Cooper. She trusts Ryan, but she absolutely must quit leaning on him.

I love that set too! It's tricky to work with though. I've blown it up more than once.

S.B. said...

Phoenix, that's an interesting question. Why did she go to see Ryan? To clear the air. To tell him she knew about Rayne. In her defense, she went through Melinda, setting up something that would ensure she wasn't alone with Ryan. Make it right and move on. At least, that's what she told herself she was doing.

Ryan definitely does not intend to hang around waiting for her. Will he ever be able to turn his back on her if she comes to him the way she did this time? In pieces? Probably not. It is a truly sad mess.

and thank you! SO MUCH!!!

Qui. said...

I am sitting here shaking my head because I can't belive she went to him! WI just don't understand her right now. Wanting time from Coop to get herself together is one thing but why lean on the one person that won't let you go? The person that is half of the reason why you and your husband are/were having problems?

I'd rather see her go to Rafe and Gayle before Ryan!

I agree that the set is beautiful! I feel like loading my game now lol.

S.B. said...

Oh Van, thank you! We're going to keep on trying! I always see tons of threads out of place!

Ryan and Beth needed to get the whole deal with Rayne out in the open. I don't know whether or not he'll move on, but he isn't waiting for her or expecting her to come back to him.

Will the dinner date go well? Overwhelmed and emotionally drawn and quartered about describes both of them, so probably not.

S.B. said...

Qui, Rafe would bust her butt! He doesn't think she's behaved herself, although he doesn't like Cooper and has always thought Beth would be better off without him.

But she didn't go to Ryan for sympathy. She went to clear up the Rayne issue. Beth isn't without faults, and skating too close to the edge is one of them. Did she mean well? She told herself she did. Was it fair to Ryan? Probably not. Is she leaning on him? Yes. Is that a good thing. NO.

That set is gorgeous but full of strange little things you have to step very carefully around!

Sinclair said...

Can i just say that Ryan is soooo sexy. He makes we reconsider red head men. And hes not even pale! :D

And this is so played out. Ryan and Beth realllly need to just move on!!! And Beth needs to stay away from Cooper. Like honestly how many times can they go through this. Move on and fine some new sexy people! There are more men in the city than Cooper and Ryan and Beth certainly isnt the only pretty woman. When are they going to grow up and go their separate ways!

Sadly I realise that if it was that easy I'm sure they would have but one can hope right?

S@n said...

what the...
WOW.. I was not expecting this... she went to see Ryan!!! I'm still shocked! I thought she was over with him! Clearly they are not...

one part of me is telling me that their talk was completely useless and unnecessary, (if Cooper finds out, there will be another mess to clean up)...

then the other part of me is telling me that they really needed this talk to come to an "end" or to start from scratch...
so let's see what happens...

Is there a possibility for them to be friends? from my POV, I think friendship is not an option, what they (he) feel is too strong, it will be either all or nothing...
and she did say you know I LOVED you (in past tense)...

Poor Ryan, her visit will only open his wounds again...but maybe this time will be the last time he bleeds for her... :(

I'm really looking forward to see what happens with Cooper !

S.B. said...

Sandy, she felt she needed to tell Ryan that she knew about what happened with Rayne. She knew it wasn't his fault, and she felt it was important to close that off, leave him with no doubt. Whatever they ever have between them in the future, if anything, Rayne isn't in the middle of it.

and wait a minute. She told Cooper it was over. They're separated. They are both free to see other people. And she did make sure the meeting with Ryan took place at Melinda's place, outside, in clear view if Mel wanted to look out a window. Beth is done apologizing to Cooper about Ryan.

Could they be just friends? No. Ryan's honest about how he feels. Is Beth honest? As much as she can be. Sometimes it's hard to know how you feel.

Thank you!!! Glad we can continue to surprise you!

S.B. said...

LMAO Sinclair! Ok ok we'll come up with some new sexy people!! But we've been driving this particular set of conflicts for a long time, and we're not finished yet.

And no, it's not easy. Old flames sometimes never stop burning. That is reality. Breaking up the bond between Coop and Beth will take more than another pretty woman. Not sure Beth will move on. And that sometimes happens too.

Ryan is definitely hot! Red dynamite!

It's always great to hear your point of view - you make us think. Thank you!!!

Muzegoddess said...

Aaah!! Why did she do this?! Hasn't Ryan had enough? She claws out his heart, he picks it up and puts it back in, staples his chest shut and she goes and tears it out again. I know she doesn't mean to but damn it!

Sometimes the pot shouldn't be scoured. It should be put away in in the garage and not used for cooking for a while. Then, maybe later, if it hasn't been thrown away, then maybe it can be cleaned, long after anyone has thought of cooking with it. But not now.

Oh and the worst question he could possibly ask her, but he needed to know, needed to hear her say it. And I really, really hope he is not waiting, he's been standing still far too long.

Every ounce of emotion in this was tangible. Completely heartbreaking and damn good.

S.B. said...


No, she doesn't mean to hurt him, but she's not thinking about him even though she believes she is. She's thinking about Cooper, and thinking about how to 'fix' something that's been worrying her. And she's miserable and alone and it was an excuse to grab comfort from someone she trusts and loved, an excuse that doesn't bear any close examination. Whatever her motives, Ryan needed to know that she knew about Rayne and that she didn't blame him.

Since she'd just cut it off with Cooper, it was a reasonable question for Ryan to ask. He did not get a clean answer. He got an emotional blast. But he's long past waiting or believing or hoping in much of anything.

I hope it rang true.

thewynd said...

Ryan has always been a fortress. I love how you described him in this, the mountain, the lee. Beth will always own his heart or at least pieces of it no matter whether he waits or not. Sometimes love is like that.

This was beautiful. Sad, heartbreaking and emotional but a step toward honesty.

S.B. said...

Gayl, he is a fortress. Interesting to think back to the first time he glared out, and then grinned. Fascinating man. The ultimate knight.

It was a step towards honesty. Whatever else it was, it was that.

Valpre said...

I can't believe she went to him and now she's opened doors she shouldn't have. But I'm glad she got the piece about Rayne off her chest. It must have been a terrible weight to carry. Starting on a clean slate for Cooper and Beth is going to be difficult, especially when they both have so many dark secrets between them.

S.B. said...

Val, she really intended to close that issue about Rayne, and accomplished it, at least with Ryan. It's unlikely to go further. Ryan's shut it off too; he's not waiting or chasing after a woman who is obviously in love with another man. However, old flames do sometimes turn out to be the right choice, so I'm not quite sure why that wouldn't be possible between those two.

Coop and Beth are still far from a clean slate and may never achieve it. They have a lot of reasons to work toward it though.

Emily said...

:( that last pic, and that's saying a lot for me considering Ryan is in it! LOL. It's a saddening feeling for both of them, really tangled up situation for everybody right now.

Thank you guys for keeping these coming, I have had one of the worst days, trying to deal with being sick and having a sick toddler at the same this was nice to take a break and read. Especially love the shots in this one, they're beautiful!

S.B. said...

Emily, I absolutely feel for you, been there and it is horrible to be sick when your child is sick too.

Poor Ryan...LOL! This was a situation that has been a long, long time coming but it was almost inevitable.

and thanks so much about the shots! I've gotten lazy with shots, so that's a particularly welcome compliment!

Anonymous said...

oh boy, you've left me speechless.

I cannot even imagine the embarrassment Ryan had felt after Beth's words @.@

the emotions stirring and the tension between these two usurped my breath there for a moment. I wasn't sure what Beth was going to say..but holy shit was that gut wrenching D: Poor beth is really stuck between a rock and a hard place. i feel for her :/

oh!! and perfect ending with the figurative language (the metaphor with the mountain). :)

S.B. said...

Hey Xtina!!

It's so good to hear from you again!

wow you are the only one with any sympathy for beth. She did what she went there to do, and that was free Ryan from worrying what she would think about him having sex with her daughter. The relationship between Ryan and Beth is long and close. Maybe she needed him. Relationships are messy.

He is definitely the mountain.

and again, THANK YOU!!!

Laura said...

Funny enough, the one of him and Rayne together was one of the first of these I remember reading when I found it. I don't think I knew why it was so shocking at the time, lol! (Tried to find that one again, but couldn't. I found all the ones around it, but not that one.)

Anyway, I actually had a fantastic time this afternoon going back and browsing through some of the much older ones, when Cooper was on tour and Beth and Ryan were together. (And Rayne was just an adorable little baby!) It has been a very long time. And she and Ryan do have a history - a very, very long one. But a commonality is that she seems to choose her husband again and again and again, even if the choices are sometimes muddy.

Poor Ryan, that he adores her so much. This line: ["Beth," he said, taking her name, giving it back to her.]

So beautiful! And so simple. But I really hope he finds a way to let go.

S.B. said...

Laura...astonished that you went back. And enormously gratified that you enjoyed it. It's hard to convey the depth of the history between Ryan and Beth without going back. She has always chosen her husband. Muddy choices yes. Confused and dirty and mixed up choices. Angry choices. But Cooper is always the one she chooses.

It's hard to let go of someone you love so deeply. Whether it's Beth letting Coop go, or Ryan letting go of Beth. No easy solution, take the sword and cut the Gordian knot, it will still bleed.

Names matter.

Thank you so much.

thelook said...

Even if it is just to 'clear the air' then Beth! They broke each other's hearts and someone else's. Clearing the air isn't something that could just 'work out' overtime. There'd still be that very big hole and a big pile of what-ifs stored in that part of your brain you rarely go into because it's just better that way and your happy with your life and done with the past.

I'm wondering how it would've gone done with Tony now. He had that wife, the not so stable one that he went back to 'help' if my memory serves me right. I think I remember that piece because of the pictures. They stick out a lot (but in a good way!). Lots of brown.

Anyways yes, Beth left him because she disliked the fact that Tony wanted a slice of the past and several kilograms (no idea how many pounds those are! Sorry.) of the future while in general said ex-wife was not willing to cut any ties she had with Tony.

Well isn't that exactly what Beth is doing this time round? She's going back to an old flame that could very well go alight should she leave him unsupervised. But even with supervision everything is getting burnt down. :(

(Did make any sense? Like 2%?)

S.B. said...

Thelook, yes there are some parallels....

One very big difference though. Tony wanted to keep both the unstable wife AND the girlfriend; he wouldn't made a decision or a commitment to either one of them but wanted both of them to hang around until he did decide. Beth told Cooper: "It's over." There's your bags, there's the door. She didn't tell him to keep in touch just in case she changed her mind. Of course Coop believes he can make her change her mind, and maybe he can, but it isn't a ploy or a strategy to make Cooper behave. She cut him loose.

I don't think she ought to go running back to Ryan right now. It's too soon. But. If she keeps Cooper on the other side of the door, if things don't work out, Ryan is not an inconceivable second choice. Not at all sure Ryan would go for that however...

LOVE your comments!!!

Rachel said...

Wow...this chapter is absolutely amazing. I love Ryan...I hate what Beth keeps doing to him, but I think this had to be done. Not for her, but for him. He needed to know that he wasn't just .....argh I can't think of the word. That he wasn't just assuming she had the same feelings he had. He had to know that he wasn't alone in that. It has to help him to know that she knew about Rayne and forgave him for it or even that she never blamed him for that situation. Those are the good things.

But this is bad in several ways as well. Beth is a mess. She is trying to get clarity by clearing the air, but she's just stirring up a lot of dust for herself. I think ultimately, this is good for Ryan (I don't think he believes she's trying to start something with him), but bad for Beth.

S.B. said...

thank you Rachel. I love Ryan too, and hated to put him through yet another Beth encounter, but this time I don't think he's going to take any harm from it. He needed to know about Rayne, needed to know she never blamed him. And I think it does help to know he wasn't alone in how he felt. The love was on both sides. It didn't work out, but he wasn't making a complete fool of himself all that time.

Beth is certainly a mess, and she gained very little from that exchange. There's a fine line between putting other people first and self destruction, a line she's perilously treading.

Thank you, thank you so much. This was exactly what this piece was intended to convey.

~Drew said...

Ryan just oozes romance hero, no more so than in this chapter. He was been led a cruel, merry dance by Beth, and yet, he still cares, he still comforts. Love Ryan. LOVE.
Great update~Take a bow, ladies!

S.B. said...

Drew, Ryan is certainly hurting, and he is still there for her, trying to guard his heart but still there. I love him too, LOVE him LOL!

Thank you so much from both of us!