If I Had You, page 7
“I’m going out,” my mother announces from the doorway of the kitchen shortly before dinner after not talking to me all day. “I hope you haven’t forgotten and made more food than necessary.”
Giving the pasta sauce another stir, I put down the wooden spoon and turn to her with a shrug. “Didn’t make enough for you, but even if I did, what would it matter? That’s what leftovers are for.”
She raises both brows and crosses her arms over her chest. “Leftovers? Are you joking?”
No, of course not, but then again, I’m not in my normal life where I spent years making food last longer than one meal, and I guess wasting food in this one is no big deal. “Maybe I am.”
“I hope so.” She glances at her watch and then grasps her clutch tighter. “I need to get going. Are you going to be all right until Oliver arrives home?”
“I’m not a child who needs someone to watch her all the time, Mother, but thank you for your concern.”
I figure she will leave at that, but instead, she walks closer, her question filled with what I might call worry if I weren’t used to a former version of her as she stops just short of where I’m standing by the stove. “Darcy, I don’t know where this sudden hostility toward me is coming from. I know we haven’t always gotten along, but I am still your mother, and I love you even if I don’t understand you.”
Yep, definitely not the same mother I’ve hated all these years. I may not know what the hell’s going on or why I can’t wake up back to my real life, but I’m going to have to work on being kind to her and everyone else until it happens.
“I’m sorry.” Turning back to the stove, I pick up the spoon and stir the sauce again, glancing over my shoulder to see her smiling at me softly. “I guess I’m just having a bad day.”
She doesn’t seem bothered when I don’t return her words of affection, squeezing me on the shoulder before saying. “It’s all right. Tomorrow will be a better day. And I’ve got to go now.”
I don’t think it is all right, but as with many others things since waking up here, I don’t say that. “Okay. Enjoy your evening.”
No further response from her as her heels click across the floor, and less than ten seconds later, the back door opens and shuts as she leaves for wherever she’s going.
That’s when the freakout I’ve been holding in since waking up rushes out of me in the form of hiccuping sobs. I manage to turn off the sauce and the noodles, remove them from the heat, and then stumble toward the front of the house.
After Zach stood in the foyer staring at me as if I’ve grown two heads, I spent the whole day searching as quietly as possible for information on what happened between us but haven’t come across anything so far. Not even divorce papers, which have to be around the house somewhere.
Then, after climbing the steps, I realize there is one place I haven’t looked: the attic. I figured out where the door was earlier but hadn’t gone up there because of my mother’s presence, and not wanting her to ask me what the hell I was searching for.
After the tears subside and my face is dry, I open the door, flip the light switch, and take the narrow steps, crouching down upon reaching the top because the attic is more of a crawl space thanks to the low beams.
And there sit a few boxes not far from where I’ve entered the area; only one of them has my name on the side of it. Sitting down, I yank the box in my direction, open the flaps, and discover that everything Zach had been shoved into this box before being put out of sight.
Pictures galore fill the box. All the ones missing from the past on Facebook are all here in this box, printed and kept in quite a few photo boxes. Then, the mementos, from dates and anniversaries I don’t remember.
And finally, a folder filled with a stack of papers, with the final judgment for divorce on top, telling me all about our marriage. A marriage that began nine days after our son’s second birthday and officially ended on December 20th, 2013, when our daughter was only three months old, with ‘irreconcilable differences’ cited as the reason.
Never hated a term more than I do right now as those two words that can mean anything stare at me all while my brain refuses to conjure up what those differences were. After just shy of three and a half years of marriage and eleven years together total, what the hell happened?
And I hate the blanks. Is there a point to getting some information and not what I consider the real important stuff, such as knowing what the hell happened between me and the man I defied my parents for?
Why aren’t the empty spaces filling in like earlier?
Jumping at Oliver calling out to me from downstairs, I shove everything back in the box and close the flaps, pushing it back to where it was before heading back down the steps.
Finding him in the kitchen, he turns toward the door when I enter and points at the now cold food in the pans on the stove with a chuckle. “Guess this isn’t what you wanted for dinner?”
Then, his whole expression changes to one of worry as he looks me in the face. Walking over to me, he cups my cheek as he stops in front of me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong.”
“Your eyes are puffy and red from crying and you don’t cry for no reason.”
“Maybe I did today.”
I need him to believe that because I can’t possibly tell him the truth; he would think me insane and if he didn’t, I would wonder about his sanity.
Wrapping his arm around my waist while the hand on my face slips around to the nape of my neck, he shakes his head and sighs. “All right, I’ll believe you for now, because I’m starving and have decided to take you out for dinner.”
I hear him yet all response stops short of exiting my mouth, every inch focused on his hold and the way my heart beats faster with each second. Awareness of the attraction between us quickly evolves into desire sparked, arousal and need for Oliver that I’ve never experienced before flooding all of my senses.
Swaying toward him, my hands fist his shirt, anchoring me at the same time he tugs me closer until our clothed bodies touch everywhere possible. His mouth is dangerously close to mine now, making my own lips tingle with anticipation as his gaze drops to them, and all thoughts of dinner disappear as he leans in to give me what my eyes and body are begging for.
A light brush, the first stroke of a slow and steady seduction intended to drive us both mad. My mouth gives way to the pressure of his with a gasp, his tongue making love to mine in a dance my body remembers even if I don’t, and I curse the clothes preventing us from getting any closer to one another.
He must have the same idea because he rips his mouth away, lifts me in his arms and waits until I wrap my legs around his waist before practically growling, “Fuck dinner.”
Carrying me out of the room and up the steps, he resumes ravaging my mouth as if we’ve done this a million times and leaves me with no doubt about why we ended up married and now have a baby on the way.
The ‘how’ of it continues to elude me, but it becomes the last thing I want to think of as Oliver strips my clothing off and unknowingly demonstrates what a little confidence on his part would bring to our bed in my real life.
We finally go out for dinner nearly two hours later to an amazing local restaurant where tables line the perimeter of the room and couples can dance in the center.
Oliver stands up after the waiter takes our drink order, holding out a hand and saying with a twinkle in his eyes, “Dance with me.”
I shake my head. “I’m no good at dancing.”
“Funny.” He grabs my hand and tugs me up from my seat, leading the way onto the floor before turning to me with a smile. “Let’s see if we can remember how to do this, hm?”
He pulls me closer, sliding his right hand to rest on my lower back while leaving a bit of space between us. Instinctively, I put my left hand on his shoulder, and our free hands meet in the air, our fingers interlacing.
Oliver grins at me and pulls me even closer until our bodies are almost touching, leaning in to press a soft kiss against my mouth before quietly commenting, “All those classes and we haven’t danced since our wedding. We need more evenings like this.”
Ah, dance classes. That explains it.
Not knowing what to say to that since I hope I’ll wake up tomorrow and not be here, but because this is enjoyable, I simply say, “Yeah, this is nice.”
And the dance is over too soon as we return to our table when the song ends. The waiter arrives with our drinks and takes our dinner order, after which Oliver takes a few sips of his before reaching across the table to hold my hand.
He’s sweet like that throughout dinner and on the way home, always making sure I’m comfortable. His excitement for the baby is endearing and identical to his attitude in my real life…enough I start to feel guilty for not actually being the woman he married.
And for the first, as we head home, it dawns on me.
What’s happening in my real life if this isn’t a dream? Is the me from here in that life? Or am I in a coma?
By the time we’re inside the house, this whole situation is finally driving me insane, to the point I want to tell him I’m not his wife and explain what the hell is going on.
His reaction isn’t what I’m afraid of, not really.
No, the truth is, I fear being stuck here in this life I don’t understand and didn’t participate in, and what might happen if I say something.
So I remain silent as we both get into more comfortable clothing before relaxing on the couch in the living room to watch a movie.
He invites me to snuggle against him, and I do.
It isn’t long before I lie down with my head in his lap and promptly drift off as his hand rests on my shoulder with its warm and familiar weight.
Here, with him, is the freedom to let down my guard, even if only to get some much-needed rest.
The next morning, I wake up snuggled up to Oliver in bed, with no recollection of how we ended up there, and am instantly sad at not having returned to my life.
He rouses when I attempt to get out of bed without waking him, but other than a quick moan of protest, he releases me before sitting up as I rest on the edge of the bed.
“Morning, sleepyhead,” he says in a drowsy voice filled with affection. “Give me twenty minutes and I’ll make breakfast.”
“I can do it.” Standing, I lift a robe off the chair and find him watching me, his expression bemused and pleased all-in-one. “What?”
“You haven’t made breakfast in a long time. But,” he puts up a hand while rising and then stretches both arms above his head. “I won’t stop you because I’ve always loved your cooking.”
Haven’t cooked? I don’t ask. “Okay.”
He comes around the bed, pecks his lips against mine, and then walks over to the dresser. “I’m going to get a shower. See you downstairs.” Then he stops, turns to grin at me, and asks, “Unless you want to join me?”
My body says yes, but my head says no, and I shake it. “Ah, go ahead. I’m really hungry so better get started.”
He walks off, not sounding disappointed at all, and for a moment, I stare at him with wonder. Strange. Weird. And definitely a little crazy that his complete difference from the man I’ve been friends with for eight years bothers me and not in a good way.
I like familiar. Routine. Oliver’s always needed me as much as I needed him. We are each other’s stability, but this one?
He wants me. Doubt he needs me, at all. He’s comfortable taking me as I am, and not even a little bizarre behavior on my part seems to bug him for long.
Honestly, he probably chalks it up to being pregnant, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Zach and my mother had done the same yesterday.
I have to keep in mind that this version of Oliver is different, as is my mother. Can’t be certain about Zach yet. He watched me yesterday, though, and I knew the things I said were surprising him — the slight flaring of his eyes and twisting of his mouth gave him away.
What I hate is not knowing why he was reacting that way; the mystery of our breakup is obviously relevant to his actions.
So much to discover about these two relationships and doesn’t seem like it’s going to just show up in my head. I may have to straight out ask or find someone who will talk about everything without me asking…which is, of course, quite unlikely.
Sighing, I head downstairs and into the kitchen, searching through the cupboards to see if there’s any pancake mix.
There is, and before long, I’ve got a stack of them finished. Turning off the stove, I finish cleaning up the small mess I made and carry the plate over to the table, then get the syrup from the fridge along with two glasses from a nearby cupboard.
Oliver walks in as I’m setting them on the table, fresh from his shower with damp hair and wearing nothing more than a pair of basketball shorts, which allows me to appreciate his physique. He isn’t too muscular and his abs don’t show, but it’s obvious he works out and takes care of himself by his flat stomach.
And the way he can lift or carry me without breaking a sweat speaks well to his stamina.
“Smells wonderful,” he observes, winking as he notices me staring at him and taking a seat at the table as I pour orange juice into our cups.
“They do.” Blushing at being caught, I turn to put the orange juice back in the fridge, returning to sit across from him and smile while putting two of the pancakes on my plate. “Yesterday I didn’t really eat anything except breakfast and dinner, but this morning, I’m starving.”
“Well, good, since you’re eating for two.” He takes a bit of his food and smiles at me after swallowing it. “You seem better than yesterday. Did you get more sleep?”
“Yeah, I think so.” Noticing I don’t recall seeing my mother’s car last night when we returned home, I frown at him and ask, “Do you know where my mother went last night?”
He laughs and takes a drink of his juice. “More blanking today?” When I just stare at him, he clears his throat and looks downright amused. “You really don’t like her new boyfriend, do you?”
Oh…and crap. Hard to pretend everything is normal when I don’t fucking know anything. I force out a light-hearted laugh and shake my head. “Of course I do. I’m just teasing you.”
He nods and goes back to eating, all while I eat with my eyes focused on my plate, trying to keep from saying something else I should obviously know.
But a boyfriend? My father’s been dead a year, and she’s already seeing someone else. Okay, he was sick for a while before he died, yet still, I can’t imagine being ready to date only after someone I had been with for a while, someone I loved, had died.
Oliver finishes before me and goes to wash his plate before coming back to kiss me on the cheek. “I’m going to go find something to watch on TV. Join me when you’re finished?”
It isn’t until he leaves the room that I wonder what Zach is doing, and that’s when I think about the kids…for the first since he left with them.
I’m not used to having kids but still feel like a shitty person for not even thinking about them, as well as feeling nothing when it comes to the two children I had with Zach.
Disgusted, I finish up eating and wash my plate before going to let Oliver know I’m going to call and say hi to the kids, understanding it won’t be good for anything more than making me feel better about not really being the mom they know and love.
When I return with the kids at six o’clock on-the-dot Sunday evening, Oliver answers the door and smiles as both the kids say, “Bye, Dad!” before running past him into the house without
I’ll never get used to that. They have fun at my house, but they always miss Darcy and are raring to go when it is time to head home every weekend.
That and they don’t like my fiancée, Jen. Mostly because they only recently met her, after I was certain about marrying her and proposed, so they aren’t comfortable with her as they were with Oliver when he married Darcy. The man’s been in our lives since they met during a semester abroad during their final year of college and became best friends.
A semester where I worked my ass off while my parents helped me with Gabriel so my wife didn’t have to miss out on a great opportunity.
It’s hard not to wonder what might’ve happened between Darcy and me if she hadn’t gone and they had never met. Not that he went after her — no, it was all her. She didn’t cheat, but her feelings slowly changed over the years, until one day she looked at him the way she always had at me.
We tried everything to get us back to where we were. However, in the end, there hadn’t been anything to do except give her what she wanted even if she wouldn’t admit it out loud.
“Hey, man,” Oliver says, returning his gaze to mine after watching the kids run down the hall and interrupting my thoughts. “Did you need to speak with Darcy? She’s on the computer.”
Back to avoiding me, then. All right, I can deal with that.
Shaking my head, I tell him, “No, need to go as Jen is waiting on me. Tell Darcy I’ll see her on Friday, as always.”
“Of course. Have a nice night.”
He shuts the door with a final nod, leaving me standing outside the house that’s mine no longer as he heads back to the life he’s built with the woman I wish I could stop loving.
“What do you suppose someone would call a woodchuck if it couldn’t chuck wood anymore?”
My lips twitch at Jen’s question as I slip out of my coat after arriving at her place and hang it in the closet by the door. “I suppose just chuck,” I reply with a kiss to her lips, wrapping my arms around her waist as she slips hers around my neck. “Where do you get all these crazy questions from?”
VIOLET HAZE SERIES:
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