It was late, far too late for Peter to be awake , b ut here he was lying on his side, eyes wide open as he stared at the empty pillow next to him. His palm smoothed over the cool sheets, the absence striking him acutely in the heart. Some nights when he closed his eyes he could imagine his wife was there, curled up beside him, the sound of her even breathing a lullaby that helped him drift off to sleep. However tonight was not one of those nights.
It had been almost eight weeks since Anita had left, and he missed her terribly.
He rolled over, sighing as he groped for the cell phone he had placed on the nightstand. The silver wedding band on his left hand glinted in the light from the screen as he squinted at the time.
London was five hours ahead, so it would be 7.35am her time.
Here in New York he knew his wife’s routine. She’d be up for a run at six am, sometimes dragging him with along with her before hurling herself into the shower an hour later. He usually made breakfast during this time, getting the coffee started and chopping up fruit for their oatmeal. By the time Anita was out the shower breakfast was ready and he’d be reading through the sports section of the paper while she took in the headlines.
By eight thirty the two of them would be out the door.
In London there was no certainty. Anita didn’t have a routine because she was working all hours, trying to close the case that had drawn her over there in the first place. It had taken a long time to come to terms that loving someone, that needing them wasn’t a sign of weakness. The past two months had been a testament to that.
He hadn’t realised how much he had taken Anita’s presence for granted until she had travelled to London. And now, without her here, their apartment didn’t feel too much like a home.
He clicked the Skype icon and selected her contact number before he had a chance to change his mind. It dialled, it’s musical tone chiming through the bedroom as he held the phone in front of him, listening to the rings.
The sound of her voice washed over him, already he could feel the tension seeping from knotted shoulders as her face appeared on his screen. She was on her laptop this morning, he could tell from the positioning of the screen in her temporary apartment.
That silky dark hair of hers was pulled back into a neat twist, he’d seen her wear often. She was clad in a turquoise shirt today that offset her skin tone, that fitted navy blue blazer worn over the top. He couldn’t stop his lips twitching into a smile as he laid eyes on his wife for what felt like the first time in days.
“Hey.” He said softly, reaching behind him and propping the pillows up against the wooden headboard so that he was comfortable.
“I’d say good morning.” She murmured checking her watch before pulling a face “…but it’s almost three over there.”
“It’s still morning.” He said light heartedly before adding, “I just wanted to see you. We’ve missed each other over the last few days.”
“I know and it’s my fault…” She began before he cut her off.
“Anita, I get it, it’s ok.” His tone was firm and resolute as he spoke leaving no room for argument.
He wanted her to know it was ok that she was in London, instead of in bed with him in New York. It was ok that what had meant to be an exchange of knowledge in London had turned into two months of her working with the Met because she knew this case better than anyone else. It was ok that she had had to cancel the last two Skype calls they had scheduled because leads had turned up that she’d had to chase down.
“It’s good to actually see you,” she told him quietly. He could see from the look in those soulful brown eyes of hers that she meant it. “I miss you like crazy.”
Peter pursed his lips together, swallowing hard against the ache in his chest before he spoke.
“I can’t sleep when you’re not here ,” he admitted. “The bed’s too big and I have all this space and I hate it. I hate that I can’t hold you, that I can’t kiss you goodnight…”
He hadn’t meant for that to come out. Those were things that he had strictly forbidden himself to tell her. He didn’t want Anita to feel bad for being in London, things were tough enough on her end as it was, she didn’t need that pressure. Yet here he was blurting it out because he was so stressed and exhausted that he could barely think straight.
“…that you can’t whisper ‘sweet dreams’ in my ear.” She finished for him, the expression on those pretty features of hers pained.
“Yea h... ” He told her. “I hate that too.”
There was silence between the two of them for a moment as Anita looked down at her hands, her fingers toying with the matching silver wedding and engagement rings.
“I thought I was past being homesick.” She confided in him, her jaw tightening as she looked away for a moment, blinking rapidly. “But sometimes it just hits me really hard.”
It killed him to hear that, to see how distressed she was . He could feel her loneliness over the miles that separated them, and it ate at him because he felt exactly the same way. He would do anything to take that away from her but they both knew he couldn’t. He wondered how long they could go on like this, existing in two separate spaces, missing each other. He had come close to booking leave a few times, but she had always told him not to come. She was convinced that any day now things would change…
But they hadn’t, and it had been eight weeks and honestly Peter didn’t know how much longer he could go on with not being able to physically touch her. He wanted to wrap her up in his arms and kiss way those unshed tears, to tell her how much he loved her and how proud he was of her for doing what she was doing.
“It’ll be over soon.” He promised, before raising his eyebrows suggestively. “Then we can make up for lost time.”
Despite everything Anita laughed, that sweet musical sound brought a smile to his weary features as he watched her brush away the tears with her slender fingers. Their moment was spoiled by a loud knocking on the door of Anita’s temporary apartment.
“That’ll be Jacobi.” She told him, drawing in a deep breath and tilting her head up.
Peter could already see that professional mask of hers slipping into place. He’d seen it countless times over the past five years and it never failed to surprise how quickly, the warm, humorous woman he knew turned into that cool, collected Detective.
“You gotta go.” Peter stated as Anita nodded her head.
“Can I call you later?” she asked him, her hand coming to rest upon the top of her laptop, preparing to close it over.
“I’ll text you my schedule.” Peter confirmed, already feeling the pang of disappointment building in his chest at their call being cut short. “Let you know when I have a break.”
He loved the way his name rolled off her lips, the way she said it…
It sent an exhilarating through coursing through his body every single time. His green eyes made direct contact with hers and he knew it was intentional from the fierce look in hers as she spoke.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.” He told her, pouring every part of his heart and soul into his words, hoping that she would feel it over the miles that separated them.
He saw her smile and his heart thudded hard against his ribcage, the same way it did every time he saw that beautiful smile of hers.
A moment later, she was gone.