“Well what can be said about the one and only Doctor Lauren Lewis that hasn't been said already? Brilliant, selfless, great under pressure, a life saver and lets not forget stunning. Tonight we are here to honor the very best in fields across the board from physics to ecology and Doctor Lewis' breakthrough this year on the preservation of cells pertaining to perishing organs in not just human-beings but Fae as well is nothing short of a medical miracle and I am wholeheartedly expecting to stand here again next year presenting her with another award for once and for all eradicating heart disease in it's entirety. So without further a due Doctor Lewis come on up here and dazzle us some more,”
I can't help but smile at his flattery, it was a tad over the top but then again I did just make a science changing discovery and well he wasn't too far off, by this time next year I fully expected to have come up with a cure for heart disease.
Standing up I give my gracious smile which I had spent all week practicing and walk the ten steps toward the stage, the four steps up the stairs taking his hand. It has been ages since I wore heels and apparently it is a skill which needs to be nurtured.
Finally making it to the podium I take a deep breath and stare out into the crowded room of elegantly dressed peers, each and every single one of them important for one reason or another. The crowd a mixture of Fae and human alike, a sight I never thought I would see but then again there was plenty of things I never thought would happen that did.
Clearing my throat I look forward just high enough that the light was causing my vision to blur.
“Thank you for that wonderful introduction Doctor Foster, and that is his introduction without me sleeping with him can you imagine what it would be if I had.” I smile at the scripted joke thinking it's slightly over the top but the room seems to be eating it up. After all it was no secret he was a womanizer so I guess I can see the humor to it. “But honestly thank you Doctor Foster, to the panel, to the board, to all the backers behind this project without all of you none of this would be possible. I'm not great at public speaking, much better with petri dishes and DNA samples, if you couldn't tell. Cough, medical breakthrough, cough” I pause giving another smile at another scripted joke and they are just eating this up. “So I am making this short, but my biggest thank you to all of you will come by this time next year when heart disease is going to become a thing of this past.” I smile and give a head tilt even though I can't see any of them anymore but by the roaring applause it seems to have gone over well. Guess it was smart to go off the script.
Walking off stage I decide to skip my table and head straight for the back of the enormous hall, of course they had to place the bar all the way at the end. I smile to myself at my own frustration over something so silly, guess it's past my bed time. Looking down at my little, new, gold watch which was a gift for tonight I see it's 12:27 p.m. Yep about two hours past my bed time.
“What can I get you?”
The bar tender asks as I slide onto the corner stool and I contemplate asking for a real drink but the responsible voice in my head reminds me I need to get home, that i have a early morning and a long day with several non reschedule-able events so I just ask for a water. Soon they will give out another award and they will forget I'm here thus my cue to escape. He hands me my water and I can't help but feel a twinge of nostalgia for the Dal, for Trick—for a life long ago.
And then it's gone.
Taking a sip of water I hear them start to announce some other award which in my opinion isn't an actual award but not my concern. Sliding off my stool I turn looking for the nearest exit but I don't find it. What I find instead is enough to make all of the air in my lungs leave, my stomach turn into a violent pit of mush.
In one moment this entire world I spent years building came crumbling down like a house of cards. 16 years, 5,840 days, 834 weeks, 140,160 hours of trying to build a new life, of trying to break free of agonizing memories, empty promises, hopeless hopes---all suddenly meant nothing.
“Lauren,” she says my name and it feels like every single muscle in my chest contracts until I remind myself to breath. The sound of my name rolls off her tongue so effortlessly, the sound pull my mind toward an onslaught of memories better left forgotten.
She is standing there as beautiful as ever, she looks as though she has aged a bit but in more of a mature way rather than anything. Her hair is cut shoulder length and straightened—I use to have such a weakness for that—who am I kidding, I still do. She's wearing a darker-set of makeup than I remember her favoring but it complements her well. The little, black cocktail dress hugs her curves perfectly and shows more than need be—somethings never change. She has put on a little weight, looks like muscle mostly and it suits her well. Even after all this time she can still dance circles around the Mona Lisa.....
“Dyson,” his name leaves a disgusting taste in my mouth, it had been so long so since I thought of him but now here he was smirking at me as he comes up behind her, hand resting on her hip possessively as if I would have forgotten that she belongs to him.
“I'll take it as you all know each other?” Doctor Foster says staggering up, half drank glass of bourbon in hand.
“You can say that,” I say softly, nodding.
“That's great, the Thornwoods are going to be around for a while. May even cross paths on a task or two.”
“Congratulations.” I say through a clenched jaw, my eyes finally finding the ring on her finger, I can't believe I missed that.
“We—we're engaged, haven't set a date yet.”
“We're looking at June though.” he says with a smile from ear to ear and I want to slap that smug smile right off of his face but instead I just keep my own, diplomatic smile and wait for the right moment to slip away.
“Either way, congratulations.”
“Th-thank you. Congratulations to you as well on your big award,”
“It's amazing,” she lets out softly and I feel a shiver coarse though my body, a faint, dull stabbing beginning to spread through my chest.
“Thank you Mrs. Thornwood.” I smirk as I say it. He looks like he's won something by my use of the term, that stupid smile of his growing but she knows it's anything other than an admission of his victory. After all I didn't need to admit anything, it had been sixteen years they've been together what more did he need? A written declaration?
Bo's eyes narrow at my comment, a sadness, a faint longing that riddled her exquisite features replaced with an irritation. Good she didn't have the right to stand there and look at me like I am the one with a husband—soon to be husband, whatever. She had no right to think anything about me in fact, in fact I don't even know why she decided to come up to me.
“It was wonderful seeing you again,” my attention shifts from them to my drunken colleague. “Always a pleasure Richard. Excuse me,”
I make sure to keep my back straightened and my head high as I walk away from them, I refuse to run. Sixteen years ago I ran from the train wreck that was them I refused to do that again. I was not that woman anymore. No, I am anything but that woman. I am not weak and begging for her attention or anyone's attention for that matter. I am not afraid of Dyson or the thought of her rejecting me, I just didn't care anymore. I stopped caring the moment she picked him over me—but I can't even pretend that I didn't see that coming. If I was a bigger person I would probably take responsibility for it all considering I knew she would never let him go and I still tried—but I am not that big of a person.
My growth has it's limitations.
Running my hand through my hair I wait patiently for the car service to pull up. Luckily it doesn't take more than twenty seconds, thank God for small miracles. I slide into the back seat before the driver can even shift the gear into park. I don't need anyone to open my door car or otherwise, it was a nice notion but I am too old to pay that any mind.
I look out the window at the series of three double-sided, glass doors and wait for him to pull out. I don't know what I am looking for, she wasn't coming to follow me out and stop me—she never had before. Honestly I didn't want her too I didn't have time for all of that.
Besides I know what would happen. She'd say something and then would follow it up with an insult, maybe throw Dyson in my face. Then she would get incredulous before running off—what she does best.
I don't know why I am putting any thought into this at all, I don't care.
So what she was here with him and of course Kenzi and Hale would be here since they were this little insuperable foursome. That was fine, London is a big city—big enough for the seven of us---possibly. Doesn't matter, now that she knows I am here she will turn and run, I give this a week maybe two if Dyson has gained any control over her in the years—since she is wearing his ring it's possible.
I snort, chuckling to myself. The woman who looked like she was going to have a heart-attack when I briefly mentioned wanting a child at some point and now here she was wearing his ring allowing him to parade her around on his arm. I feel bad for her, she seems to have lost so much of herself—not that I care.
“We're here,” I look up from the headrest, and smile politely at him. “Ma'am,” his words pull me to a stop, one foot already on the sidewalk. He looks bashful, his eyes avoiding mine. “You um,” he trials off as he awkwardly gestures to his cheek and for a moment I just stay completely still trying to understand what he's saying.
“Oh,” it escapes me before I fully understand myself. Sniffling, I use the back of my had to wipe away the dampness that coated my heated cheeks. “Thank you,” I say as I rush from the back of the car, it may have been rude but I was already embarrassed enough.
I was so sure I wasn't going to cry, so sure I was okay.
No, I am okay those were stray tears of anger—no indifference. Of exhaustion and---plenty of other things that did not include her crashing into my life once again like a damn wrecking ball.
Finally getting the front door open I'm greeted by nothing other than darkness, ha how fitting. Shaking my head at myself I kick off my heels and slip free from my dress. Searching around the darkness, eyes still not fully adjusted I find the sweats and tee-shirt I left neatly folded on the top of the couch. At least I will be comfortable and embarrassed rather than a stuffed sausage trying to breathe—and embarrassed.
Pushing my hair out of my face I jog up the stairs eager to hide under my covers and put this day far behind me. Because that was all I needed, sleep. None of this was about Bo or Dyson or the Thornwoods—seriously though, Thornwoods? At least Lewis was a normal name, not something that screamed 'I am a wolf and a Fae and a billion years old'---he isn't even a wolf, he is a shape-shifter. Funny how everyone forgets that part of the equation.
God! I am not doing this. This is how it starts one mere thought leads to another and then another until I am so far down the Bo-rabbit-hole that I lose everything and this time I can't let that happen, I won't—it's not just me anymore.
I push my bedroom door open to a scream that makes me jump almost screaming myself but the sight in front of me is just to cute to be anything other than laughing at. On my bed, tucked under the oversized, white comforter huddled together they sat in the dark room watching something that involved a chainsaw. Laughing aloud I step in closing the door behind myself, taking another three steps in so I can see the television on the wall which just so happens to now be paused on a scene where said chainsaw is lodged in some poor, blonde's head.
“So where is it?” my son asks pushing the cover down enough for me to see more than his eyes.
“Yeah where is the goods?”
“The goods?” my brow shoots up at my daughter who is returning the exact same look. “They deliver the award you don't carry it with you,”
“I feel cheated, I stayed up all night just to see this thing.”
“Ethan you are up watching---”
“Texas Chainsaw Massacre nineteen, it's the one with the house and the ghost not to be confused with the one in space that just had the ghost.”
“There was one in space?” my eyes shift to him. “Really? Isn't the whole point of them to be in TEXAS?”
“That is your biggest continuity flaw with this movie mom, really?”
“Well as a matter a fact Isa, it is.” I giggle out while pulling the comforter back and out of her grip enough for me to slide into next to her.
“Well your priorities are off mother,”
“Did they like my jokes? Did you use em'?” Ethan peers over his sister so I can see his little, goofy grin.
“I did and they did, they really did.”
“Told you I was funny mom,” he smiles and leans in closer to his sister as I wrap my arm around them. “Told you,” he repeats through a yawn as he hits play to a movie I know they won't make another ten minutes into but it was fine, I had suffered through every other crappy horror movie they could find, what was one more.
Yawning myself after several minutes and another three cheerleaders down I look down to a familiar sight, the pair softly snoring deep in the first REM cycle. I can't help but want to just watch them a little longer, in just four months they would be turning fifteen and I have no doubt that they will start to want less mom cuddle time and more freedom. They do tend to take after me but still, teenagers follow a pattern and I know they would be no different.
Ethan mumbles something softly grabbing my attention. He really did resemble Bo more than myself. Despite never playing a day of sports in his life he naturally had the body for it, muscular and walked with a natural confidence even if he didn't feel it—Bo down to a tee. His hair just as dark as hers with a subtle wave, and his pigment just as dark. Most of all he had his mother's eyes, big, dark, warm—engulfing. Every so often he would do something, say something that I could swear I remember Bo saying at one time or another , there was no doubt he was hers.
Not that I would ever admit it aloud nor ever let myself think about this longer than a moment but every so often looking at him hurt.
Isa on the other hand looks near to nothing like Bo. It was amazing to see them next to each other, until they opened their mouths you would never expect them to be related let alone twins. She was almost my mirror image, with the exception her hair was a shade darker, Bo's genetic influence undoubtedly. She did have a bit of Bo's personality occasionally, more so as she is growing older.
I have no doubt she will take after her mother and become a succubus, Ethan on the other hand I have no clue. I still had a year and three months before I even needed to begin worrying about this but in honesty I had been worrying about this since I knew I was pregnant. I had prayed so much that neither would turn out to be succubi, after all there had been cases where children didn't take after their parents but I wasn't so lucky—I never am. I would love them no matter what, and always be there for them there was no doubt about that I just worried—all the time.
I had seen Bo struggle with her nature over and over again until she finally lost that battle. I had watched the pain she suffered, the guilt and torment it caused and I didn't want that for them. I wanted to spare them that pain. Not to mention they just weren't succubi material, these were my children. They were already taking college courses, they were mathletes and a part of science clubs. They couldn't watch a sex scene on television without blushing or turning away. The most revealing thing Isa would wear was sleeveless tee-shirts when she was at home working on her homework. They were clumsy and unbalanced to the point that Ethan had to be pulled out of physical education for a month after getting hit in the head with a basketball four times in a single game.
They were not succubi material.
Maybe had I raised them with someone. Maybe had their mother been around then they would stand a chance but not now. Scoffing at the idea of having needed anyone around to raise MY children let alone Bo—I'll just have to do some more research. Possibly put my work on hold and focus my energy on finding a calming serum, Bo had outgrown the ones I made for her but that was then I had made strides, medicine had made strides and these were my kids, not her.
Huffing at the thought of her I run my free hand through my hair and look back up at this insipid movie willing to try anything to pull my mind away from the plaguing thoughts of her. It had been years since I've thought about her like this. The last time I put any real thought into her was when the kids were four years old in Kindergarten and they had to say what their parents did for a living. While every other kid had a story for both parents, every other kid had their parents standing in the background with them, Ethan and Isa had only me. They had spent that night crying, asking where their other parent was---that was the last time I put any more than a moments thought into that woman.
And now here I was unable to escape the thought of her, here I was feeling no different than I did sixteen years ago. Amazing how much damage she can do so effortlessly.
Resting my head against the headboard I look up into the darkness of the ceiling tuning out the faint screams of cheerleader number eleven or twelve, I've lost count.
I always knew we couldn't have worked, I knew it from day one but still I did the dance with insanity, still I flirted the with the danger and by the time I was approached by it all I had dug myself so far into denial that I had convinced myself otherwise. I had wholeheartedly deluded myself into believing that she was strong enough---that she loved me enough to make things work but it was all just a pretty image that I bought into. I drank the kool-aid and ended up paying for it. Just as well I got my two babies from it all, I learned about myself too.
So I guess you could say it was worth it.
I'm well aware of the fact that it was me who wanted a break, it was me who ended us but I don't think I ever believed she'd let me go. I think somewhere along the way I started to believe her when she said she was over him—i think she believed it too. I'm also aware I'm the one who left too but there was nothing left for me there, they had all made that perfectly clear. Besides if Bo had wanted to find me she could have, I'm not the CIA, I didn't make myself vanish—after all how could I with two kids.
I was aware it was my choice but later that night after I showered and slept and cried ---I regretted it. I waited for her to come back, to try and I even went to her but—perhaps we were just never meant to be. Perhaps us as a whole was a big cosmic mistake and my two loves were a 'sorry' gift. Perhaps I've put too much thought into this all.
I remember sitting there at the airport watching my plane pull up and halfheartedly expecting her to come running up shouting 'I love you' or something cheesy, expecting some moment from one of those horrible romantic movies that are just plain shit.
I remember thinking I couldn't believe that it was over already. I wasn't that big of a fool, I knew we would end at some point after all I was a human and she is a succubus, the future was never laced with rainbows but after chasing each other for two years when we finally caught one another I just thought it would have lasted longer—well in a way it has. It will last forever considering we have two children together.
Irony at its finest. I spent the first two years trying to be with her, trying to spend forever with her and after I finally got it, when I was trying everything possible to get away from her—now I never will be.
I remember stepping onto that plane telling myself I deserved more—problem was I never wanted anything as much as I wanted her. For years I couldn't close my eyes without seeing her, couldn't dream without it being of her, couldn't be touched without feeling I was doing something wrong.
Then I remembered she had his hands on her before we even said goodbye. I remembered she didn't lift a finger to search for me. I remembered the looks in my children's eyes when they asked why they only had one parent. I remember the look in their eyes every time someone mentions doing things with their parents. I remember she hasn't paid one ounce of thought to me so why should I pay her any mind.
Now if only it were that simple.