Amelia rummaged through her room for the 4th time trying to find some decent jeans. The ones she normally wore didn't flatter her anymore. The last few weeks her body was fluctuating from a 4-6. Stress eating was certainly a factor. One night she's eaten a whole strawberry cheesecake in one sitting. The jeans she wore just brought down her mood. It's been a while since she considered wearing slacks. Dresses don't really put her in the color she likes. She always ended up dressing like she was going to a wake. It was like Wednesday Adams trying to dress casually. It's still black and depressing no matter what you did.
She had recently taken a week off from work, all thanks to the powers of persuasion and someone having her back. Will made her go through with it ultimately. Amelia was an unassuming creature at times. It had become a challenge saying a simple no lately. As a result she'd been overworked and slightly taken advantage of. Her main mission was to be self-sufficient. She wanted it because of sense of accomplishment that was associated with it.
She had no idea why she had so many things in black. As she pushed aside the blouses, attempting a final time to spot something fairly decent, it became apparent nearly everything she owned had absolutely no diversity. Denim wasn't considered a color. She only had 3 jeans that she rotated occasionally. Her co-workers only cared if she had her skirt pressed. The jeans and T-shirt look was strictly forbidden. One day she accidentally came to work in an ensemble that made her look as if she was headed to a rave. Her boss actually pulled her to his office to address the outfit. One of the many moments in her life she wanted expunged completely.
She flipped shirts, bras, shorts and various other clothes behind her trying to look in the back of her closet trying to see if anything fell from the pile. How could she not have one pair of good jeans? As she continued flipping, Will was standing in the background, catching each shirt that was thrown absentmindedly in his direction.
He caught another blouse along with a lacy bra, smirking while shaking his head. "Don't you think this is a little much?"
Amelia rolled her eyes, continuing on with the scavenger hunt. "You're a guy, you wouldn't understand."
Will chuckled, she had a point. "I'd like to think I know something about clothes."
"You forget you have a stylist for that." She corrected, reaching under a shoe box, pulling out another bra.
She squinted and chucked it behind her, hearing another loud laugh spurt out of him. She ignored it and lifted the Total Gym box coming up with nothing.
"What stylist? I thought that was you?" She could practically feel the smirk spreading across his silly face.
"Don't stress me out anymore than I am." She sighed collapsing on her knees; she was getting ready to give up.
Will gathered the pile of clothes and placed them on the corner of the bed. He bent down to her level, rubbing her back.
"Taking it to the extreme are we?"
Amelia pushed some hair out of her face. All she wanted was something that looked nice. She had nothing in here that passed. She sat against the floor of the closet leaning against the wall, defeated. She banged her head against the wall wincing at the slight pain she endured. It was hopeless. She was just about ready to fold.
Will curled up next to her, pushing his shoulder against hers. "Wanna just get something at the mall? I know I'm not the best shopping partner but we could do with something nice for you. Come on, my treat."
"This doesn't have to do with you getting those gigantic cookies at Mrs. Fields again is it?"
"I can't believe you'd go there, of course it is." He pushed her shoulder again, falling on top of her.
"What do you say? We're always stuck here; time to get back out there in the scary world." He brushed his lips against her, kissing the corner of her mouth.
She kissed his nose pulling back to look in his eyes. "I'm not scared of anything."
He helped her up and lightly smacked her behind. "That's my girl."
Will knocked on the dressing room door. "Sweetheart, let me know when you're done I'll be on the other side checking out the guy stuff."
Amelia pulled on a fourth pair of flared denims she picked up dressed with a few designs down the sides. "Yeah right. Just tell me you're bored and go to Vienna Sausage already."
Will smirked and rolled his eyes. "Come on now, give me some freedom here. I'll literally be next door if you need me. Just a ringtone away."
She adjusted the fit and turned around, modeling a new angle. "Alright, I'll let you know when I'm done."
When she heard Will's footsteps scurry off she looked back at the mirror. Trying on new clothes always felt like a test. If she could grade herself, she'd give a C for effort. She wasn't the best at this. Was anybody really? Yeah, it fit fine. Looks OK. But was it her? She never was a stickler for passing tests. Whenever she went shopping she always thought of the girls in high school. When they tried on anything it was a big thing. Almost everything looked good on them. Even the craziest outfit you'd see on runways looked the best on them.
"I'm wasting time worrying, am I?" She stared at herself strongly in the mirror.
She stripped out of the flares and threw them in the pile of discards. She decided to go with the dark one and the first one she tried. They went with her mood. For some reason she can't see herself in bright colors. She wasn't one of those girls who looked appealing in brightness. The darker, the better. It was more her thing. Goes with her hair and features.
She unlocked the door and began searching for Will. She gathered the pieces of clothing and decided to walk around the store, trying to spot her boyfriend. He's a crafty one. He can sure trip her up when he wanted. Will never stomached the whole mall thing. She had a feeling he would lose interest the second she was barricaded in a dressing room; knowing she couldn't come out. She almost forgot how good of an actor he is.
She glanced on the clock on her phone. She began walking out of the store. She turned and bumped into someone.
"Oh my gosh. I am so sorry." Amelia apologized, trying to pick up her stuff.
Blue eyes focus on her, when Amelia looked up a cheery face smiled brightly. "Wow, small world. I'm sorry, are you OK?"
Leighanne. She was perfect. She had Brian. She was too damn perfect. Amelia nodded, continued helping her with the items she made her drop.
"I am. Yes it is definitely. So, wow, how are you doing?"
Leighanne clutched the clothes she carried closer to her, "Doing well. Just doing some shopping with a couple gift cards. How are you feeling? Brian and I were really worried something might have happened."
The concern in her eyes was killing Amelia. "I'm doing better, thank you. Well I'm sorry if I'm taking you away from all this. I'll be more careful."
"Oh," She waved her hand, "I'm not really in a rush. Baylee's at home. Grandma's watching him. Brian and I were just about to go to dinner pretty soon."
"How is he?" Amelia sucked in her lip.
Leighanne smiled warmly, "Baylee's a good boy. Brian's been home a lot more. Everything is just getting better every day. You know, things are meant to work out. I really believe in that."
Amelia might actually finally welcome liking this woman. It was nearly impossible to be envious. Putting away petty problems is how she was going to deal with things. It's for the best. This was the second time in the same month she bumped into Leighanne. She was going be around Brian no matter what. She was going to have to remain in control. Be the adult. Accept the reality. The reality of where she belongs.
Amelia gulped down the last of her uneasiness. It felt a little liberating. "I would have to agree. I'm happy for you guys. Where's Brian?"
"Oh... wow, that reminds me..." Leighanne took out her Blackberry and BBM'd her husband.
Seconds later, she received a call. "Sweetie, hey. Yeah, I just got finished. Come over now. Yeah I know, OK, I'll see you in a bit. I love you."
Amelia stomached through hearing the last line. She had to. She was just going to have to accept that life doesn't always work out the way she wanted. Amelia called Will saying she was finished and he should "get his ass back." Amelia caught Leighanne's smile and laughed back to prove she was joking. Really she was just stalling and wanted to get away before Brian came in the scene. She didn't have enough time.
Just as if things couldn't get any more awkward, both men appeared side by side at the entrance. As Brian walked into the crowded store he tried not to show his shock and focused all his attention on his wife. Maybe if he just did that from now on, he'd stop driving himself mad.
Brian watched Will kiss Amelia firmly on her forehead, looking in her eyes. "You about ready?"
Brian can sense Amelia was avoiding eye contact so he tried to mimic the gesture. Shouldn't be hard.
As the four of them made their way to the checkout counter, things were silent. Amelia didn't want to speak unless spoken to and Brian was playing things cool. Leighanne started asking Will about his next project. Amelia should have known. Anytime someone asked Will anything actor-related, he just went to town. There wasn't much that was going to shut him up. Amelia looked over at Brian, for slight second. He looked so downcast. As much as she'd love to believe Leighanne how good things were, it was all on Brian's face.
Amelia felt terrible. Maybe she should hold up her promise. Prove that none of this was eating her alive.
After her things were paid and wrapped up, Amelia went up to Brian, who was sitting sullenly on the thin, wooden bench.
She bit her lip, letting out the breath she was holding. "Hey, stranger."
Brian slowly scaled his eyes up to meet Amelia's. She was trying. He was going to give her that. The more he looked into her eyes, the harder it was to pretend to go back to himself. The life everybody knows and expects of him. His duty. His existence was just to serve other people without having any thought of his own considered. He couldn't look at her the way he wanted to. It just can't happen.
Brian put on his best brave face. "Hey back. How are you doing?"
Amelia was glad he said something. She was beginning to think he was mute at the site of her. Impossible. She straightened her back, smiling proudly. "Got a little desperate I guess."
Brian relaxed suddenly. She broke the ice finally. "Yeah well, this is Leighanne's thing. I'm more the guy who stays out of the way. That's why we have a stylist on the road."
She felt a little more relaxed and sat down next to him. "I'm glad things are going well for you. It's good to know everyone happy."
He smiled, despite himself. She was trying to cheer him up. It was sweet but if only she knew the truth. The fears he held every night of not feeling secure in himself anymore. The dreams he would have that made him awake in a sweaty daze. He couldn't escape her. It was like she was haunting his every moment. If only she knew. Maybe if she knew, things might be different? Would they be?
"We are… we're not perfect. We're just...?" He trailed off, thinking of the right words.
"Good?" She finished.
Will surveyed the store, trying to spot Amelia. He hadn't noticed she left until a few minutes. It slipped his mind. He excused himself from the conversation with Leighanne and caught his girlfriend next to Brian. He trusted her but he knew this wasn't good. The sight of the two of them together, alone, the closeness of it, just shot his blood pressure threw the roof.
He came up to the twosome, hoping to break up whatever it was that was going on, "Hey baby, wanna get outta here?" He said it extra loud, on purpose.
Amelia laughed, turning her attention to Will, before glancing briefly at Brian. She exhaled just as loudly. He was being rude but she was going to let it slide.
She made a move to stand up, "Yeah, we can get going."
She was lucky that he came just in time sense she was running out things to say to Brian. Her brain was on overdrive. She looked back in the store as Leighanne walked over, carrying her purchases, fumbling with the various bags while swinging her purse on her shoulder. Leighanne looked at Amelia, smiling. She could sense there was something bothering her so she decided to do something as an idea formed.
"Hey, do you guys have plans for dinner?" Leighanne handed Brian a few of the bags since he was empty-handed.
Amelia immediately looked at Will, who in turn returned the look. The expression he gave was nonchalant, as if to say he was giving her the chance to answer. She gave a sweet smile and shook her head.
"Well, Brian and I will be heading out soon to Maria's, would you guys be interested in joining us?" Leighanne asked, sitting on the corner of the bench near Brian.
Amelia didn't look at Brian who's eyes she feel on her the second Leighanne mentioned the word dinner. She grabbed Will's hand, almost squeezing it, trying to get all the stress and tension out. She heard him whisper baby and she loosened up a little. She pulled him close to her so he had his arm around her body. Brian looked away finally. She was done feeling bad about everything. This was her life and she was doing the right thing. She was secure enough to handle a night out.
"That would be great, thanks; um will it just be you and Brian?" Amelia laced her fingers with Will's, planting her eyes on Leighanne.
Leighanne nodded and pulled out her phone, looking at the screen, "I just called Nick and Lauren and Howie and Leigh. Kristen and Kevin can't make it. AJ and Rochelle were out of town. So I guess if Nick, Lauren, Howie and Leigh can't make it then it'll just be the 4 of us."
Amelia looked up at Will, then back at Leighanne. "Sounds like a big party. Let me just go get my purse and we can head out."
When she tried to turn the other direction Will pulled her hand, padding his pocket that held the outlining of his wallet. "I got this, don't worry about it."
"Guys, it's our treat. Don't worry about it, really." Leighanne started to say. "Brian and I hardly go out to dinner much anymore. This should be fun."
Amelia looked at Leighanne. The woman was so sweet she wanted to scream. The sincerity that basked in her eyes made Amelia begrudgingly cave in. If there was gonna be 8 people in this party then she hoped she didn't want Leighanne to thing she was using her for a free dinner. Besides, she invited them. What was she so stressed about?
"Yeah," Amelia's eyes danced over to Brian who was looking down, "fun."
When the four of them loaded their bags in the back they got in their cars and drove to Maria's. Amelia was stuck thinking. Maybe tonight wasn't going to be as wonky as she thought. She hadn't been to a restaurant in a long time, unless you count the numerous hotel functions and pot locks she attended with Will. They never actually had gone out before. Just the two of them. As they were coming up Westwood, she sat for a minute, still and solemn. She can do this. Having feelings for Brian is just an unfortunate accident. There's no chance in a million years anything would happen. She believed nothing would happen. She didn't have a lot to cling on since Will's with her. She felt safe and protected when he was around.
He was her real friend. He wouldn't try to build something for her and then up and leave. He wouldn't take the time out of his life if none of it mattered in the end. He was hers and she was his. Forever? Forever is a scary assumption. All she knows is she can trust him. This is love. With Brian, there wasn't anything to hold on to. And why should she? Her heart was broken. He was the one who left. It was nothing. They didn't have a story. She concluded this much as Will parked in an empty place near the entrance.
She suddenly stopped him. She placed her hands on his face and looked into his eyes. His soul. She moved a little closer until her lips were touching his ever so gently. She wanted this. She missed the gentleness of this. She can imagine Brian and Leighanne sharing the same types of affection. That floored her passion further. She could feel her entire body light up as he deepened the kiss, placing his arms around her. She was brought back to reality when she heard a sharp knock on her side.
Amelia pulled away and kissed his nose. He was hers. She can always count on him. She didn't need to turn around to guess who it was. She was pleasantly surprised when she turned around.
"Hey, where's Brian? We're here." Nick whined as he held Lauren's hand.
Will turned off the car, laughing. He shared a look with Amelia and they both got out of the car, shivering from the chill that hit their cheeks. She avoided Lauren's stink eye and joined her boyfriend as they all walked to the front. Amelia tried to block out the equally annoying banter of Lauren. Just inane ramblings about their relationship. Amelia tried to drown some of it out. She also reminded Amelia of She-Ra, if She-Ra was a man. He-Ra. Amelia shook her head, laughing. She grabbed hold of Will's hand.
"And the fun starts." Amelia sighed as everybody walked inside the restaurant.
It was Saturday; Maria's hit their traffic rush already. They got lucky they came right before it started. Normally one would secure a reservation before even entering. It wasn't Mastros but it was a pretty packed place because it was so local. Families and couples from all corners frequented nearly every night. It had a homey atmosphere. One of those places that welcomed everyone.
After everyone ordered their food, Howie cleared his throat, "Hey, just wanna say a quick thing before we order. I am so glad that Leighanne and Brian didn't forget us. I know Nicky here might have." Laughter erupted around the table. Nick was only mildly amused but joined along with the affectionate quip.
Howie continued and raised his glass of Pinot Grigio. "Anyway, just wanna say I'm happy everyone is well and healthy. I am so grateful and so blessed for everything. This year was a blast and that I got to share it all with my friends and family, well, I can't ask for more. Here."
"Goody." Nick chirped under his breath, still unnerved from the jab.
On cue, everyone raised their glasses and cheered in a prayer. Amelia smiled in delight. It had been a long time since she saw something like that. People lately don't really take the time to count their blessings. Howie was obviously great man with morals and family values. As soon as the toasting subsided, everybody dispersed into their worlds. Leighanne and Will were discussing, yet again, the life of an actor. Nick and Lauren were still in a little soap opera made just for them. Howie was having a quiet conversation with Leigh. Something about a babysitter and Howie's sister. Amelia pulled herself out of eavesdropping and took a long sip of her wine.
She felt her hand being grabbed under the table. She looked at Will and smiled brightly. When he didn't turn to her and she was confused. Her grin faded when she realized whose hand it was.
Leighanne insisted on sitting near Leigh because they were closer, oblivious to what her husband was doing. Amelia didn't want to make a scene when Brian sat near her. There wasn't a scene to make. She was perfectly fine sitting next to him. It's just like sitting next to anyone else. She made the mistake of squeezing back. She was holding tears inside. It took everything in her not to completely break down. She felt like this every time he touched her. She slowly pulled her hand away and glanced at him through the corner of her eye. He made another attempt and succeeded as his hand reached hers. Amelia braced herself. She didn't know how much of this she can take.
She cocked head, composing her emotions to a standstill. She gave in. No matter what was going on, she gave in. She felt explosions of bliss began to seep inside her. She was scared. She didn't think Brian could claim that part of her again. This was all from a simple touch. She relaxed her hand against his. When she did this he drew circles on the inside of her palm. She closed her eyes and looked down, her last attempt of regaining her sense of self. She was slipping. Falling. Everything was crumbling inside. She didn't want to be so obvious. There was a lot of risk in being inhabited. She knew it and so did he. But he didn't care. She did. He should be careful.
She tried to make that clear as she turned to him. She gave a sad smile and immediately tore her eyes away. Any second longer and-who knows? She didn't want to find out.
"I'm gonna take a call, meet me outside. Say you're going to the bathroom." Brian whispered casually.
Amelia just looked at him. No words. She had nothing to say to that. His expression was dead serious as he patted for his blackberry, pulling it out. "Oh shoot. Hey guys, I gotta take this. Sorry..."
"Brian, everything ok?" Howie asked.
He stood up pulling on his jacket, checking his Blackberry again. "Yeah, just need to take this outside."
Brian brushed his fingers across her back. Mia shivered slightly. She knew she had a choice.
"Excuse me everyone." She said gruffly as she stood up slowly.
She tried not to draw attention to herself as she pretended to walk to the restroom. She pulled her jacket tighter around her and trotted outside. She didn't know what the hell she was doing or why she even went through with it. But here she was. Being an idiot. Really, she was more concerned about Brian. She had a feeling he was up to no good.
She pushed open the door briskly and looked around.
"I'm getting a divorce." Brian said simply, coming into view.
"So then Donnie told me, 'kid this is the big shot. You're playing with the big boys now.' Being on a show about cops I mean, I hear that stuff every day. Even in what we say on the show. But Donnie, he's like a saint. I steal everything that guy does. He's really like the older brother I never had. I missed being on a TV set. Brings back so much I never knew I missed." Will said, taking a bite of his pasta and garlic bread.
Leighanne sipped her seafood soup. "I always thought about going back to movie projects. Brian and I always wanted to open our own production company. He says it's for our protection. But for some reason he keeps putting it off. Things are getting better since we separated but I feel lately his heart doesn't seem into things like that anymore. I mean, we talked about this for years. Maybe if I start up the blueprints he'll get excited again."
"Whatever works for you guys. I know with Mia and I, we always find time to do things as a couple. It can be hard though. Hell if I know the rules. She took my schedule with a grain of salt. When I first met her I was lucky if I could get my foot into the audition room; let alone a callback. It's amazing when you have such a huge opportunity, you really don't want to let it go. I'm a lot smarter then I was a few years ago. I take the craft very seriously. In fact, I have chunk of months of shooting for the some new episodes of Blue Bloods in Manhattan. They even have me working on New Year's Eve. We'll have to figure out a way to plan out what we're gonna do. It'll be hard but she's been real helpful. Honestly, I don't know how she puts up with me. I'm sure Brian's the same, what with all the touring and all?" Will said, taking a long sip of beer.
Leighanne nodded, "During the holidays it dies down. We were supposed to be going on a cruise but it fell through. The planning wasn't all there. I really wish Brian and I would take a break. I don't mean at home. Just us being an us again, you know? I don't know. Sometimes I feel like life's work and the older we get, the more we lose playing. I don't want to ever lose that... or him."
Will smirked, downing the last of his beer. "We make time for what we care about. You guys are a different story. Being married solidifies life as a whole. When you have a family, priorities change. Being a father is something I've always wanted. A lot of people laugh when I say that. They think it's something only women want. Well, it's not entirely true. I've always wanted a family. I have the love of a woman who loves me back and shows me how much every day..."
Leighanne sensed what was going on and pressed him, "So what are you waiting for? Have you considered it?"
Will smiled warmly, thinking back since the first moment he saw her. "I knew she was the one. I can't explain why. It was like something inside me woke up and I knew... I saw her in my future. I saw lots of things with her. She opened my heart again. Told me it was ok to be free. I haven't stopped believing her since."
Leighanne's hand came over Will's. He was slightly surprised. Her hand was warm, soft and feminine. "Ask her. Be with her. Don't wait anymore if this is truly what you want. Everyone deserves the happiness that comes with marriage."
"I'll strongly consider this. Believe me; I want to stop thinking about it for once. I want that life. I want her." He said with a far off look in his eye.
Amelia backed away, visibly shaking. The cool mist of the air barely fazed her as she attempted to sit down on the bench, almost falling. She couldn't register what was happening. This can't be. No, it shouldn't be. How could this happen? Why was it happening to her? This was not fair. Leighanne never did anything wrong. Why was he throwing away a marriage just like that? When did he decide this was the right thing to do?
"I made this decision recently. There were indications before you even existed. Not going to lie to you by saying I hadn't thought of you during this. Leigh and I, we're, I'm-it's not working. All of it. The life. The choices. All the hours spent wishing I was somewhere else. With someone else. I can't beat myself up about this anymore. I'm sending the papers Friday. I don't care what the press or anybody thinks. It doesn't matter. All I care about is finally... being away." Brian explained in a breathy tone.
"Why are you doing this? Leighanne loves you. Isn't that enough?" Amelia asked, numbly.
Brian kept pacing back and forth until his thoughts settled on an answer. "For a while, it hasn't been. There's just a lot of stuff you don't know. Stuff I know doesn't feel right anymore. She's the mother of my child. I've known her for 10 years. My heart can't take forcing this marriage. I can't make myself do it. I simply can't push myself to be with her anymore."
"You can't be serious. I would kill to have what you have. I never had a family. I don't know what that feels like Brian. You don't know what it's like to wish things were… Will is a good man, but we aren't soul mates. You and Leighanne. You're-" Brian cut her off sharply.
"Don't say it. You don't know this. You don't know us. I don't think anybody does. Things aren't always what they seem on the surface. Pretending is all I know. For the last few years I was duped. Canard into thinking this is what's right for me. I have to be honest with myself."
"This can't be happening. There's no way you're going to throw it away like this. You can't. Think before you do anything. Please Brian. Be rational." She finally looked at him but he remained steadfast.
"I have. All I do is think about everything. All I keep thinking about is how much this would hurt her. I never once thought about my happiness. I don't want to be the bad guy here. I never want to be the one to break hearts. You just-you wouldn't understand. I've never done any of this before." He sat down next to her raking his fingers through his hair.
Amelia couldn't believe how stupid she was. He forgot. Of course he would forget. It was so short its almost embarrassing to bring up. She didn't want to but she found herself spilling out like a waterfall of hurt.
"You did to me." She admitted, closing her eyes so he couldn't see the pain.
Amelia stood up, leaving the scene right before two warm tears fell down her cheeks.
Chapter End Notes:
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