Brian felt Leighanne's body shift in bed, alerting him. Lately all Leighanne wanted to do was get closer. Problem. That would only work if he didn't push her away. It was a vicious cycle. He would feel bad and give in. This was before Amelia was invited to the party. He didn't feel close to Leighanne anymore. He tried. He tried so incredibly hard to push for the marriage to work. They never officially divorced for various reasons. For one, the fans liked and respected Leighanne. How bad would it look on his image if this had gone public? Then there was also Baylee. He couldn't do that to his blood. This was his family. As much as he'd like to pretend everything was normal and nice with Leighanne, he couldn't lie to himself. He didn't know how much longer he was going to keep these feelings in.
His phone made the low battery beep that shook his body off the bed. He normally forgets to plug his phone in and then hear it from people the next day. When he picked up the phone he noticed a missed call along with a new BBM. He unlocked the screen and checked out the message.
Brian, I'm sorry for doing this, but I need to talk. -Amelia
His heart stopped for a second as he
looked behind before he texted
back. He couldn't text how he really felt; he was just going to handle
this the way she wanted.
Are you alright? Where should I meet you? -Brian
He sat on the couch looking for his shoes.
He knew he saw them under
the couch. When he spotted them around the coffee table he grabbed the
keys off the night stand in the corner. He almost forgot he was wearing
his flannel pajamas but it didn't faze him. It was proof. This means
she needs him. He stared at his Blackberry for a few
seconds. Then the mobile buzzed in a circle. He grabbed it while it was
Santa Monica Pier, next to the sign. Be careful. -Amelia
He was nearly out the door when he received the message. When he got inside the car, he threw his head back, stared forward and answered back.
Don't worry, I'll be there. Be safe OK? Don't be in the dark. -Brian
He pulled out the driveway carefully. Baylee's a heavy sleeper and he just prayed Leighanne would be.
Amelia really didn't know what the hell she was doing contacting Brian. From the way she scared him at the party, she wasn't sure if he would answer her let alone agree to talk. She didn't seem to have another option. All she knew was that she didn't want to be around Will now. She took the bus because it was the only way to get out of there fast. Will would have gotten further pissed had he known she drove to talk to Brian. That's all she was going to do. She checked the clock on her phone and looked around. The night was growing chilly by the second. Santa Monica was scary this time a night. Homeless people at nearly every corner pushing grocery charts filled with dirt-covered rags and various food items they shoplifted from thrift stores. It wasn't looking good.
She started shivering and not from the cold. She looked at the time again and shifted on her weight. Now she was looking desperate. She tried to stop the tears that came flooding down her cheeks. No, she wasn't going to do this. She wiped her face while looking down at her hands. They were shaking uncontrollably. She tucked some hair behind her ear trying to suppress the shaking. Something was wrong. Something felt wrong. She looked up and a drop of cold dew landed in her eye. One after the other fell until it was a string of them. She had on a thick hoodie, it was all she could grab; but it could only do so much. She was stuck. Maybe Brian wasn't coming. Maybe something happened to him on the way here. Maybe Leighanne stopped him. She should have called someone at work. But who at this time would come out just to talk? Did she need more proof to her loneliness? If there was one thing she envied about Brian, it was his family. His friends. Least he had some things money can't buy. What did she have? Really, what did she have worth living for?
She stood underneath the shade of the bus stop huddling and shivering, now from the cold. It was safe to conclude her lips were turning blue and her hands were frozen. Before she sat down a car honked, nearing closer to where she stood. She looked over her shoulder squinting as she saw a black SUV pull up.
"Amelia!" Brian opened the door, ignoring the rain and ran to where she stood. "Are you OK?"
She couldn't respond. She pulled down her damp hood, still looking at Brian with no expression. To say she was shocked was putting it mildly.
"Come on. Let's get out of here." He grabbed her hand which she didn't protest and they ran toward the car without another word.
He led her to the front seat. As he was pulling her seatbelt over her shoulder she watched his eyes and noticed something. She stopped him suddenly, looking at him intently. She brought her freezing hand to caress his cheek and smashed her lips against his not caring about anything anymore. For the first time in a long time she felt so relaxed. So at home. The moment she dreamed of so many times only lasted a few seconds when he pulled away. He gave a tiny kiss to her forward and backed away slightly, regaining his senses.
"We need to get out of here." He repeated placidly, she agreed, sitting back and finished clamping her seat belt on.
He shut the door, still oblivious to the rain until he snapped back to reality as a bus honked for him to move. He gave a wave signaling his leave and ran to the driver's seat, shutting the door. After backing out and driving off, he tried to think of a place to go and talk. A public place where they could only talk. That's all he wanted to do. Just talk.
"L-lables is open. They never close." Amelia stammered, pointing to a small restaurant and cafe coming up to the corner on her side.
He drove into the parking lot without a word. When he pulled into a spot near the front, he killed the engine. He looked inside the restaurant and noticed it was almost empty. A good sign. A crowded place wasn't ideal. Brian buried his face on the steering wheel while his arms came over his head.
"I've been holding that in for 2 years." She cried into her hands, ashamed she admitted it.
Brian couldn't look at her, he was trying to be the rational one here but it wasn't easy being closed off around her. He wanted to do more than just kiss. Much more. But this wasn't about what he wanted. He had to be the sane one here. Thinking with your heart can get you hurt. He wasn't expecting her to react all over again. Making it so hard for him to resist her. And that's why he couldn't look at her.
"What's going on Mia?" He asked, taking a deep breath, still in the same position.
The rain hit the roof of the car like hard styrofoam. Amelia tried to calm her nerves and just talk to him normally. She was breathing so loud she thought she was going to dry heave. She closed her eyes than opened them slowly. She was really here. He actually came. She is sitting in his car. She is still in love with him. She was having strange flashes about a little boy named Nick. All it was just too confusing.
"I'm trying hard to figure that out myself. I can't believe you came here. What about Leighanne?"
Brian still had his head down on the cold wheel that was now starting to warm from his body heat. "She doesn't know."
Amelia shook her head, giving him a narrowing stare even if he can't see it. "I don't like this."
"Don't like what?" He asked bleakly.
"You came all this way and she doesn't have a clue where you are? Brian, I think you could have said something."
Brian lifted his head and opened his eyes, "What was I gonna say? You needed me, I had to be here. She knows you're my "close friend" apparently. Why is this so… I almost moved on when I left for the tour."
She put her hand up, halting his words, "I wasn't the one who said goodbye. We had to move on. You have your family. Looking back, maybe it worked out for the best."
Brian sucked in his lip, almost biting it, unable to contain his emotions. It was starting to become harder and harder to pull back and he couldn't take it. "Yeah, maybe you're right. You know, all that misery and all those lies I told the guys on the road about my performances were the best. You know what else was the best? Keeping you a secret. Yeah, making sure you never existed was so easy; I almost forgot how mad I was when I left. That's right. So easy. You know what else was the best? Checking my phone every few hours thinking that maybe it was all a silly dream and you'd come to your senses for once and just do what you want. That was the best, yeah. You know what else happened? I fucking missed you and I couldn't do a god damn thing about it."
Brian tried to keep the tears from spilling over but it was too late. He couldn't be the strong, solid man anymore. Now he was a weak man. A drained man with hardly any fight left. He could stay solid like he used to. He could pretend. But there was so much truth there. He reacted. He always reacted around her. Amelia always brought out the truth in him. Insecure, painful and weak.
Amelia brought her arms around his shaking body slowly, rubbing his back as she whispered calmly in his ear. "I know. God I know. I didn't know how bad it was. I thought you were happy without me in your life." She pulled away suddenly, wiping her own tears. "I saw pictures of you and Leighanne right around the time I met Will. He tried to get my mind off of you."
"What?" He asked weakly. He started to get goose bumps on his forearms.
She shifted and nodded, sloppily wiping her nose on her still damp jacket. "I tried to erase you, I really tried. I forced myself with Will. He tried really hard with me. I hated him in the beginning. I gave in because I made myself sick wishing and hoping that all this was a bad dream. That you didn't say there was a better guy for me. Two years was forever. All I wanted was you."
Brian kissed the spots under her eyes where the tears fell. "We need to get out of this car. Come on."
The rain somewhat slowed down to a drizzle. It was perfect timing. Brian and Amelia made their way out of the car, hand in hand. They went inside the diner and sat in the corner, away from the door to avoid the draft. A sturdy waitress who looked as if she'd been there far too long brought over menus. Amelia just ordered a tea, Brian a coffee. It was back to being awkward again. There was that silence she hated. While Brian brought both his hands on the table Amelia started playing with the napkin. His hand came on top of hers.
"Sorry." She looked down, ashamed.
Brian looked at her, really trying to decipher her body language. "What's going on? Just start from the beginning."
"If it were that easy…" She tried to reason.
"So try again. I'm here to listen."
Amelia looked around the diner, slightly distracted. It was one of those '50s throwback cafés that withstood a lot of depressing late nights from all kinds of lonely people. Amelia felt like she belonged here. At least she belonged somewhere. This is what she got for settling. Thinking about Will made her eyes water. She looked away, hoping he wouldn't see. Praying he wouldn't mention anything.
Their drinks came and Brian didn't flinch. He looked straight at her, waiting. He figured staring her down would eventually get her to start somewhere. He wanted to gain her trust and prove to her she wasn't alone. Get her to talk to him again.
"I think I forgot how to just talk to people. I got so used to routine, conversations became forgotten. I haven't had a chance to come to terms with a lot of things. Will doesn't know any of this. I don't even think he knows me sometimes. I don't even think I know me. But Will and I... we don't do this. I don't have any conversations that last beyond trivial stuff. I can't begin to understand how everybody else does it. I think I've come to a point where there's nothing to say anymore." She let out a small breath, fixing some honey inside her steaming tea.
He sipped the coffee, wincing from the taste of the bitterness. He added some cream and sugar, stirring the mixture together. He looked down at the cup then back up at her. He didn't think that was all she had to say. She covered her face with her hands. She rubbed her eyes gently, pulling her hair behind her ears. She sucked in her bottom lip, thinking for a moment. He still hadn't said anything. She didn't think he'd actually listen. Sometimes it became so hard to get Will to hear her out. They never had serious talks about anything before. Sometimes it didn't feel like they were together.
Brian noticed something out of place. She was wearing sunglasses, at night? He came around to her side and sat next to her. He didn't care if he was invading her privacy. He knew she wasn't going to come out and say what exactly happened, so he started with the beginning. Ease her into opening up. He took her hand, holding onto it like he missed it; he had.
"Amelia, why are you wearing those?" He asked gently.
"My eyes hurt. This light is too bright for me." She answered a little too quickly.
Brian looked around the place then back at her. He reached over to remove her glasses. He was surprised she didn't fight him as he slowly pulled them down. There was a light purple bruise under her lower eyelid. She closed her eyes. She couldn't face him as soon as he saw. She knew the rain must have smeared the cover up she used to blotch the mark. She heard him take a sharp intake of breath then let out the air he was holding as he tried to calmly figure out what was going on.
"How did that happen? The truth?" He whispered into her ear.
Two tears streamed down as she drew in a shaky breath. She opened her eyes, staring forward. "He didn't mean it. It was an accident."
"He did this to you?" Brian asked, his eyes growing wide, his fist starting to clench.
Amelia looked at him squarely in his eye. "It was an accident Brian. I got home, went to the kitchen; he was in the other room. I was making him a drink then when I went to give it to him, he opened the door and it just happened. He couldn't handle it, he left as soon as it happened."
" I'm sorry." He put his arms around her shoulders, pulling her to him.
She couldn't completely relax against his embrace. Something about all this bothered her. The fact that she contacted him at all was taking it too far. What about Leighanne? She couldn't shake what this would be doing to her. They were still married for Pete's sake. She slowly pulled out of his arms and sunk into herself. She was OK, why couldn't he see that? Her eye wasn't the big picture. That was the only thing she'd admit wasn't entirely his fault.
"I can't bring the last 2 years back. I want to but I just can't. Neither can you. Everything happens for a reason I suppose." He leaned back in the both, putting distance between them. "Do you just get tired of questioning everything?"
"I-"she cleared her throat, "I didn't know that was a bad thing."
His face twitched. She was misunderstanding what he meant. "No, like drop the paranoid bull shit. Don't you ever get tired of putting on an act?"
She nodded sharply, "All the time. I never knew anything else. Everything just gets harder."
He sighed. He looked at her profile through squinted eyes. "It wasn't hard with us. I never forgot how easy everything was."
She smirked, licking her lips, blushing. "It didn't feel like a challenge. You were upfront and honest." She looked down, gathering herself.
He slowly smiled, seeing her this way was bringing some of those thoughts back; those feelings. "I was crazy about you. Everybody thought I was stressed out. The tour was very stressful. Crazy, but I didn't expect you to follow me around on tour."
Amelia sighed, trying to relax. Looking around the diner she spied an older woman chatting with the head waitress. She looked at the woman and couldn't help but see herself in the role. She watched as the woman threw her head back, laughing. It was eerie how much it sounded like hers. The woman didn't look married. She looked like a regular. Someone who's been around the block and can tell you a million stories that you'd want to hear.
The waitress in the corner of the room kicked the jukebox and Boston's "More Than a Feeling" reverberated in the quiet diner. The whole diner changed suddenly. Amelia looked down, her mouth twitching in an almost smile. She looked at Brian from the corner of her eye and noticed a goofy grin plastered on his face. He looked like a 5-year-old with a mischievous expression. She had a feeling she knew what he was thinking.
"No." She said staunchly, though trying to suppress a laugh.
"No what?" He asked, innocently.
She looked at him directly, her eyes piercing. "I know exactly what you're thinking."
"Yeah right. I haven't done anything." He went back to his coffee, downing the last of it.
She pushed his body away only to have her fall on top of him. Her eyes were wide, pulse quickening. This was not good. Beyond not good.
She pulled her body off his as quickly as she fell and felt a head rush burning. She looked down and he was still on the floor. She wasn't going to give him time to react; the thoughts in her head punctured enough damage.
"You're not going to help me up?" He asked, easily sitting up on the ground.
"Don't make me regret this." She lent her hand in front of him.
She pulled him up with force as soon as his hand grasped hers. She didn't have time for games. She needed to get away from him before anything else happened. Being this close to him was just not good.
Brian threw some money down along with a tip as she stared on. She felt guilty she didn't bring any money. She always did feel a little weird when guys would pay. Going Dutch wasn't her thing but at the same time, it wasn't a date.
"Thank you." She whispered, sadness dripping from her voice.
"Come on, I guess I'll take you back." He fixed the jacket collar up and started to walk out.
As they were walking, she noticed something odd. Most definitely odd. When she glanced at her cell phone, she frowned slightly. No missed calls. She was just staring at the wallpaper picture of Will and her taken the Annual Actor's Junket last week. She snapped it closed and felt her heart racing. Why didn't her call her? It was nearly 1:00am, she practically ran out from under Will's nose with no car, no money, no nothing. What she didn't understand: why was he so mad?
"Amelia," Brian whispered, making her jump.
She stared at him and jammed her phone back in her pocket. He didn't need to know everything. Taking her home was the best thing that needed to happen.
"Y-yeah? Oh sorry. I'm sorry. I think I just need to go back. It's late and- -well, you need to go back too." She stammered, walking with him the rest of the way to the car.
He unlocked the door, getting in silently as she followed suit. He sat down for a few seconds, he took his time buckling up. She wasn't in a rush. Going back was what needed to happen. For both parties. She reached for the seatbelt and buckled. The click of the connection woke Brian up. He just stared at her, wondering what the hell was going on in her life and why wouldn't she tell him. He wanted to know.
"Brian, I think I need to say something." She paused, pulling her hoodie down as she looked at him.
"I would like us to be friends. I know I have no right asking but I just think that lately I let a lot of good people go and let some bad ones stay. I understand if you don't agree." She whispered, trying so hard to make eye contact without losing it.
He pursed his lips, looking down at her hands. They were shaking uncontrollably. He placed his hand on top on hers, relaxing them finally.
"I'd like that." He smiled, looking out from the condensation of the windshield.
She suddenly made a move to kiss his cheek. The spot she kissed instantly warmed his body. The heat radiating from the contact felt intoxicating. If they were going to be friends, kissing of any kind had to off the table.
Amelia opened the door with a sigh of relief. All the lights were off which indicated Will was asleep. She didn't want to have a run-in with him about where she was. Calmly slipping herself inside the covers should do the trick. She let out another breath, slipping off her still slightly damp hoodie and shoes. She huddled from the draft and checked the thermostat. Normal. Suddenly she noticed the balcony was open. She walked slowly toward the window, trying not to be scared. What she saw made her blood boil.
"Will? What the hell of are doing out there? Why are you doing that?" Amelia yelled in a hushed tone.
Will flicked the cigarette slightly carelessly, unfazed by her appearance or scolding. Yes, he was smoking. He had taken it up recently since he overheard the producer of Blue Bloods didn't have much faith in the show. Of all the things that would make matters worse, he believed her. Jane Raab usually can sense when things are going to be a hit. It just wasn't fair. Why can't he be the breakout star for once? He's 32, when is it his turn to be the name everyone knows? All of this was so new all over again. Was almost like he had to wait for people to like it or trash it.
Amelia loved him no matter what. He knew that. Why wasn't it enough? Why can't it ever be enough? He looked up to Donnie Walhberg, his costar on the pilot, because he knows what it takes. Tom Seleck told him not to take this opportunity for granted. He'd been given another chance. Coming from the Magnum P.I. era, Tom should know a thing or two about the small screen. Everything is a step up from where he was. Commercial land. He shuddered, thanking god silently that he wasn't in that lifeless world anymore. A child actor still looking for his big break? But just how long would this one last? Jane had a point though. He tried not to think about it. Still, those insecure thoughts kept graining on him like a starving leech.
He looked at Amelia. His sweet Amelia. The one thing he felt so proud of. The only reason he continued putting himself out there. He wasn't going be that guy anymore. The guy she got annoyed with. He was going to be the charming guy she fell in love with. The man she first saw 2 years ago in the bookstore. This was all that matters. Not his career, his sly insecurities. Tom did say one thing that was right on the money. Cherish this. Whatever this is, what you have, don't lose it.
He stubbed out the ash of the ciggarette, blowing out the last bit of smoke he sucked.
"Will, are you ok?" She whispered as he walked passed her, sitting on the couch.
She came next to him, sitting close. She brushed his cheek with her knuckles, attempting to arise somethingin him. He caught her hand, turning to kiss it softly. She narrowed her gaze wondering what was going on. She watched as he planted gentle loving kisses on the inside of her hand. Now she was worried.
"I love you so much. I hate us being like this. You know? I get sick when I see you hurt. I am so sorry I pushed you away when you needed me. I should have been smarter." Will whispered against her hand.
How can she stay made at him when he was making her melt? And doing a good job of it. Seduction was his best feature; she loved it when he was romantic. She exhaled and relaxed against his chest. What was slightly killing the moment was the cigarette stench permeating off him. She wasn't going to let it bother it though.
"I want us to stay like this. I want you to trust me from now on. I promise you things will get better. Let's just be there for each other. I need you just as much as you need me." Amelia rubbed her hand along his chest, feeling his heartbeat under her fingertips.
He hugged her tightly, letting her snake her hand under his shirt. He smiled as she ran her fingers across his chest, arousing him. He couldn't take the teasing anymore.
"Making love is what we both need right now." Without another word he carried her to the bedroom.
As Brian opened the door to the house he made several prayers on the spot that no one heard him. Baylee wouldn't have budged that's for certain. Leighanne was another story. Lately she just wanted to know everything. Not that being concerned is such a bad thing but it was bordering on clingy. His wife was being too clingy. Is it really possible to fall out of love with someone? They were so passionate, so young… before. What happened? He was so happy with her. As he kept thinking of all the good memories, they were all laced with the word "was." Except one. He remembered the notes they would leave in the bathroom mirrors and the smile that always came to his face as the end would sign off with love always. When did that vanish?
He walked in the living room, surveying the area. Everything was pretty much cleaned up with the exception of a few of Baylee's toys. He's gotten better at cleaning up now. What a sweet little boy. Brian's face lit up as he remembered the little performance he gave to the crowd. No different than the stuff he does on tour.
He took off his jacket, storing it in the closet. He tried to be as quiet as possible with changing. When he made it to the room he noticed the light on the night stand on. Oh no. He dreaded what was behind the door. He ran his fingers through his rain-matted hair and slowly opened the door. What he saw made his face relax.
Leighanne was fast asleep, with a hardcover book lying against her chest, reading glasses sliding off her nose about to fall. He felt the guilt rush to his head as he slowly removed the book that clung to his wife's chest. He looked at the book and sighed. Another one of these books. He couldn't blame her really. He knew he wasn't around as much as she wanted. His family was falling apart. Leighanne was still a big piece of his life that he can't shake off. He didn't know if being married to her was the right decision. It was, that's all he knew. It definitely felt right. She loved him so much. He didn't know what to do with that. This was way before Amelia.
The first time he was separated it almost felt like a million pounds of weight had been lifted. He had a lot of time to think. Loving someone hadn't become a chore, an obligation. He enjoyed having a clear head during the break. He didn't think he'd ever feel that euphoria he felt with Leighanne... until he saw Amelia. She didn't know the power she had over him. A little over 2 years ago, he was so ready. More than ready to find it again. He got tired of wallowing in misery. People around him had been changing. Growing up. Howie was married and had James. Kevin had been with Kristen and they share Mason. AJ's finally getting his life back on track with Rochelle. Nick's, well, Nick's a different case. Can't compare his situation with Nick even on his worst day.
When he took off his wife's glasses, her hand caught his gently. She slowly opened her eyes, searching his. She slowly sat up, bringing his face to hers and kissing his cheek softly.
"Come to bed. Please sweetheart, I'm feeling cold." She whispered, despair pulling at his heartstrings.
He kissed her forehead and stood up to get ready for another night of sheer loneliness.