“Do you know how embarrassing that was, Peter? The one night this month I’ve spent time with you and you-” Lucy cut herself off with a grown as she stalked towards the kitchen, her earrings and clutch being thrown onto the island less than gently.
“I know. I know and I’m sorry.” She looked over to where her husband was leaning against their front door, his head bent down and only his eyes flickering up to look at her.
“We both promised this time would be different.” He looked up at her then. Her confidence and anger had melted away with the tears that began to pool in her eyes. Peter watched her shoulders drop slightly and the felt the weight of the sigh that escaped her lips. He took two steps towards her before offering his hand in the hopes she would take it. She did. “I get it, Peter, you know I do. The line of work we both chose is all consuming and demanding but if this is going to work we both need to put each other first.” He kissed her hand gently with a nod of his head.
“Does that mean you won’t meet me with black eyes anymore?” His fingers gently traced the bruise that encircled her eye.
“I’m not sorry that I showed up looking like this,” she giggled, “It’s fucking badass and if you can’t handle that then I should have left you many years ago.” Lucy had come bustling into the Italian restaurant, running past the hostess knowing she was terribly late to meet Peter for dinner only to have him stare in shock for the new accessory she was sporting on her face after a suspect decided he’d use his fists to try and get away with murder.
“I’m gonna grab a beer, you want a glass of water?” She nodded as he walked towards the fridge while undoing his tie. Lucy walked into the living room, drifting towards the pictures that were on the fireplace mantle. There was one of her, Peter and Arthur in front of Cinderella’s castle at DisneyWorld that touched gently before pulling her hand back like it had caught on fire.
“I’m so glad we got to take him there one last time. It gave him such peace.” She felt Peter looking at her, heard him place the two glasses down so he wouldn’t drop them, but she couldn’t turn around and face him. In the six months since she had last seen him she had thought about the moment when they would talk about their son’s death. Thought about never talking about it again. Thought about never even seeing Peter again. But he had walked into her office that morning a few days ago, taking her by surprise and unaware she was even back in Chicago after her stint in New York. “Do you think about him?” she whispered as she turned to look at him.
“Every day.” His voice cracked. Lucy had seen a lot, been through a lot and could deal with a lot. Peter, since the day she met him outside of Wrigley, had been the only one she ever leaned on for support. The only one she had ever let in when she was vulnerable. She began to walk to the island to grab the things she had dropped there in her initial frustration at Peter taking a phone call at dinner that lasted the time it took for her to eat her meal.
“Maybe me coming back to Chicago was a mistake. Maybe I should have stayed in New York.” Her strides couldn’t get her to the door quick enough. Away from Peter and the emotions he brought to the surface that she had spent months pushing down.
“No, Lucy, stop.” His grasp on her wrist was light, pulling her into his chest before she even had a moment to protest. “Stay. I love you, I’m in love with you, I always have been and I always will be. I know what the death of Arthur did to you, to me, to us and I miss him every day the same way you do,” she looked up at him with glassy eyes as he held her face between his hands to keep himself tethered to reality, “The only way we can heal is if we do so together.”
“Peter I haven’t thought about him in so long.” It was a secret that she was passing along to him for safekeeping. To ease her own guilt, to share a burden with the man she promised to always when they exchanged vows.
“It’s okay.” He tucked her head under his chin and against his heart, reminding her he was still there. In his mind if he could pull her close enough against him she would be protected, they would meld back into the unit they once were.
“Can we take bath? Like we used to?”
“Of course. Though, if I’m being honest, I don’t have those fancy spheres you used to like.” Lucy leaving him in Chicago and their only contact being the divorce papers collecting dust in his office, had meant a large purge for Peter. Nothing feminine in nature was left in his life. Every piece of her that he had removed had felt like a kick to his stomach, a physical manifestation of the pain of losing the only two people he had ever experienced reciprocal love from. He got her to crack a smile.
“That’s fine. I’ll make you buy me some more this weekend.” And he had no doubt in his mind that he would. He remembered the first time he met her dad he warned him that Lucy had a way of wrapping people around her finger for life with just a fleeting moment of knowing her. Their brief split had been less than amicable and he would still get on his knees and beg for her forgiveness just to have her presence back in his life for only a moment. She began to walk away from him slowly, dragging him behind her to the bathroom like the lovesick man he was.
“I got a new tub since you left.” Between the baths with her and their son, Peter hadn’t been able to look at the structure without his stomach twisting into uncomfortable knots so he had gotten rid of it.
“I don’t blame you.” Her fingers found their way to his top button, slipping it free until his shirt was open for her eyes to drink in like her oasis in the desert. She kissed his chest before she titled up and he leaned down to capture her lips with his. It wasn’t hurried or rough or hungry but two people finding their home again after awhile away. It was the same feeling Lucy got when she took the train from university to home on a holiday break. Anticipation and nervousness and excitement and the overwhelmingly calm sense of belonging.
He was still hers and she was still his and Lucy hated herself for ever thinking that a piece of paper would stop her feelings from existing. She hated that she had hid in New York behind her badge and her pain instead of being where her heart had told her she belonged all along. His fingers dancing across her skin as she peeled off her cocktail dress felt like a key fitting perfectly into a lock. For the first time in a long time, she felt as though the open wounds in her heart and soul were slowly being stitched back together. The weight of absolute sorrow being taken from her and shared between them as she should have let it all along. She glanced at the Chicago skyline outside of the window and smiled to herself. She was home.