So much had happened, they barely had time to resolve things, so many things that happened between them, their marriages, their divorces…Donna…a frown crossed his face at the thought of his most recent life crisis. How he broke her heart, his own heart by marrying Donna. He had known it the moment he stood there with Donna, Stephanie watching him and knowing what he was thinking. He was thinking of her, their life together but then he decided to go against his feelings, and he married Donna instead. He had seen the devastation in Stephanie eyes. How he wished he could take that pain away. Take away all the pain he had caused her over their years together. A sadness overcame him at that moment as he remembered all those times. Of course, the marriage to Donna did not last. He found himself wanting to be close to Stephanie the very next day after his wedding, he would seek her out with made up excuses, he defended Stephanie to Donna, chose her over his wife when she accused her of having a role in Beth’s death, his heart reminded him. Stephanie was capable of a lot of things, but he had known, instantly, she did not hurt Beth. His Stephanie could never do that. A smile crossed his lips as he realized he thought of her as his. Even with everything that happened between them she was there, always there, still there, he did not know why…she loves you, damn fool, his heart screamed at him. And now, after all this time, after Felicia illness, after everything…he was struggling, really struggling with accepting what was happening. To her. Cancer…again…A deep shaky, sigh escaped his lips as he stared aimlessly out the window into the dark night. His eyes teared at the fact that the love of his life had cancer again and she was…he could not think it, say it, believe it. He would not say it because then it would be true…….
“Eric…” She said surprised when she saw him standing in the dark looking out the window.
“Did I wake you up” He asked concerned?
“I…she took a breath deciding to be honest and not lie, your side was empty” She admitted.
“I couldn’t sleep” He admitted. A sadness crossing his handsome face.
“Me either” She sighed, faking a smile.
He knew she was trying but the fact that she felt she had to pretend with him made him feel sadder. He knew she was tired a lot more often now.
“Go back to bed. I’ll be up in a bit” He reassured her.
“Alright…” She did not know what else to say.
She turned and walked back toward the stairs. She stopped at the bottom and turned to look at him. She could see how sad he was as he looked out the window. Without a word, she went upstairs leaving him to his thoughts.
He heard her cotton slipper feet going up the stairs. With each step she took he felt as if he was losing her more and more. He did not know what to say anymore. He knew what she wanted. For him to accept what was happening, for him to follow her wishes but he could not. He just could not do it. And a part of him felt awful for not giving her what she needed.
“I’m sorry…” He whispered into the night as a tear slid down his cheek. He hated himself for always being a disappointment to her.
The next day…
Stephanie woke up and looked over to his side. It was empty. She sighed knowing he never came back to bed. She laid looking up at the ceiling wondering what to do now. He had always done this when he wanted to avoid “talking”. She knew that about him after all the years, but she was afraid, afraid that they would run out of time to “talk”. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before getting up. Determined she went into the bathroom, freshened up then went downstairs to find him.
“Hello mother” Felicia said happily with a smile on her face as she sat on the sofa.
“Well hello. I did not know you were here. Where is your father” She asked as she looked around?
“Not here. I let myself in” She smiled cheekily.
A smile crossed Stephanie face. Her baby girl, her rebel.
“Join me for breakfast” Stephanie asked?
“Please tell me you’re not cooking” Felicia teased making her mother shake her head.
Eric walked in, hung up his coat and hearing laughter he followed it into the kitchen. A smile crossed his face when he saw his love and their daughter sitting at the table eating and laughing.
“I hope there is more” he chimed in interrupting their time.
“Daddy…you know mother always saves you a plate” Felicia teased making her mother blush.
Eric smiled happily as he kissed his daughter cheek and then feeling a happiness he could not contain, he kissed Stephanie on the lips, wrapped his arms around her shoulders giving her another intimate kiss on the neck, surprising them both.
Stephanie blushed and pulled away slightly turning so she can look at him. He had not shown that kind of affection in a long time, since they argued about her not wanting to be intimate since the diagnosis, she reminded herself.
“Did I miss something” Felicia asked nosily? A mischievous smile on her face.
“Eat your breakfast” Stephanie said uncomfortably.
Eric whistled happily as he got his plate, warmed it up and sat beside his girls. Smiling at them both as he began to eat.
After breakfast, Felicia left stating “some of us have work to do” making them chuckle.
“Our girl” Eric smiled.
“She is only ours when she is well behaved” Stephanie said amused.
Eric chuckled at her humor making her smile.
“Where are our other children” He asked teasingly?
“I haven’t heard from them yet” She said honestly.
“The day is still young. I give it another hour before Ridge and Thorne are here or calling” He stated in a matter of fact tone.
“Kristen called last night” Stephanie shared.
“Did she? I don’t recall you mentioning it” He said surprised.
“She called to talk to me…” She smiled in a teasing way.
“Is that so? I’m beginning to feel neglected” He teased back.
“You were always the favorite. You can’t complain now” She said with a roll of her eyes.
“Sure, I can. She is the only one that thinks of me first” He said making her laugh.
“Not last night” She reminded him with a big smile.
“That is not funny” He laughed.
“It really is” She said full of mirth.
The phone rang disrupting their silly time, Eric answered it with a cheerful “hello”
After a few moments, his cheerful and silly demeanor faded.
Stephanie watched him intently.
“Thank you. I will be sure to let her know” He said in a serious tone as he hung up.
“Is everything alright” She asked concerned?
“Massimo is at Forrester, looking to speak with you” He said honestly but she could hear in his tone that he was not at all pleased.
“Is that all? I thought something bad happened” She said and instantly regretted her choice of words by the look on his face.
Instead of responding he walked out of the kitchen abandoning his breakfast.
Stephanie rolled her eyes in frustration as she held her head. She truly, thought Eric was past this silly jealousy.
Before she could do anything, he stormed back into the kitchen.
“Just so we’re clear. I don’t want him at Forrester, or our home and I don’t want you seeing him” He spat out angrily.
“Eric…” she sighed. “I’m sure it’s about Ridge” She said trying to reassure him although she really wanted him to let this jealousy go.
“It’s always about “Ridge” He said annoyed.
Stephanie remained silent as she looked him in the eyes.
“Why do you entertain him” he asked, his anger and jealousy getting the best of him?
“I don’t…but we….do we really have to argue about this again” She asked in frustration?
“No, we don’t since you are going to see him anyway no matter what I say” He spat as he walked out again.
Stephanie sighed but she decided to let it go. He was right. She was going to see him. Not to make him jealous, not for any other reason other than he was Ridge’s father and a friend. Eric was going to have to deal with it.
Massimo decided to spend some time with Ridge while he waited for Stephanie to arrive. The two got caught up and spoke about the kids mostly.
“How is she” Massimo finally asked?
“She’s okay” Ridge said knowing Massimo cared.
“Is she…really” He asked concern in his eyes?
“As best as she can be. You know she decided not to…” Ridge started to say but Massimo stopped him already knowing what his son was going to say.
“It’s what she wants” Ridge finished, placing a hand on his father shoulder in support.
“I can’t believe that this is what she truly wants” Massimo said sadly.
An hour later…
“Mass, how are you” Stephanie greeted him as they hugged?
“I’m good. How are you” He asked concerned?
“I’m good” She smiled at him genuinely.
They walked into her office arm in arm. Ridge watching, a sadness going over him as he watched his mother, always strong, walking slowly. She was tired a lot now. His eyes teared, his emotions sneaking up on him.
“Are you really” Massimo asked once they were inside her office?
“Yes, I am” She reassured him.
“But…how...I mean…” He sighed not having the words to express himself.
“I’ve had a wonderful life; my children and grandchildren are my legacy and Forrester, is back in the family. I couldn’t be prouder, more satisfied then I am now” She tried to reassure him.
His eyes teared.
“Oh Mass…really I’ve made my peace. Please don’t cry for me” She whispered lovingly.
“But I love you Stephanie…please don’t do this. Do not leave us. You have to fight” He whispered as a tear fell down his cheek.
Stephanie hugged him tight wanting to support and reassure her friend, the man she shares not only history but a son, grandchildren.
Eric watched from the doorway. His heart shattering at the sight.
“Dad” Ridge called out when he saw his father walking towards the elevator.
“I have to go” Eric replied without stopping.
Ridge watched as his father left without turning around to face him.
Ridge walked to his mother office and saw what Eric had seen moments before. His mother in the arms of Massimo. She was consoling him.
“I’m sorry” Massimo apologized as he wiped at his eyes.
“You have nothing to be sorry about” She reassured him.
“I should be consoling you” He chastised himself.
“We can console each other” She smiled as she touched his cheek softly with her hand.
He caressed her hand, looking deeply into her eyes.
“It’s alright Mass” She whispered.
He shook his head no, unable to speak.
“Promise me you will let Jackie take care of you” She added lovingly.
“Don’t start” He groaned with a roll of his eyes making her chuckle.
“She still loves you” Stephanie whispered as if it were their secret.
“I know…but…” He poured his feelings into their eye contact.
She smiled at him softly knowing what he wanted to say.
“Let me be there for you” He managed to say before he could not speak anymore before they were interrupted.
“Mass…you are…you’re my best friend” She said not wanting to hurt him.
“Stephanie…” He begged her wanting to explain that he wanted to be more. He wanted to be the man she relied on. He wanted to help her fight. She needed someone strong and he could be that person for her if only she let him.
“You don’t have to worry, Eric….” She began wanting to explain since she knew what he wanted to say but she stopped speaking when he moved away from her touch.
“Eric…” He spat as he shook his head clearly unhappy.
“Please…I want you both to stop this. For me.” She said as she stood beside him, glancing at his face.
“Stephanie…he took her hand; I have connections in Switzerland. There are experimental treatments. I will go with you; I promise you I will not leave you to fight this alone. I can make all the arrangements for us…” Massimo began to explain but she stopped him by shaking her head no.
“But Stephanie…” He said upset that she was giving up.
“No Mass. I’m sorry” She said firmly.
Stephanie walked in, the house was dark, he was not home. She sighed knowing he was not happy that she went to meet with Massimo. She really wished they would both stop the nonsense.
She was surprised when she saw him sitting in the dark.
“Eric…” She called out.
He did not reply. He sat there quietly.
She walked over to him. Noticed the untouched glass of Brandy. She looked at him with concern.
“Did he offer you another sail on his yacht” He asked with a teasing smile?
Her defenses came down when she realized he was just teasing her. “No, I think he learned from the last time” She smiled.
“What was the offer” He asked as he looked at her? She could see he was serious now.
“There was no offer” She lied.
“Why are you lying to me? Jackie called. She told me he went to see you because he has connections that can get you into experimental trials….” He began, sounding…yes, hopeful.
“Eric…” She sighed as she sat beside him.
“I would be okay with you going with him if there was something that could help….” He continued before he lost his nerve, but she stopped him. Touching his thigh.
“No Eric. That is not what I want. We’ve talked about this.” She said as gently as she could.
He looked down at his hands.
“All I want is for the both of you to stop being at each other throats. I want him to let Jackie help him and that is what I told him.” She admitted.
“Playing match maker” He smiled amused.
She flashed him a smile.
All the times she did this before flashed across his mind in an instant.
A tenderness crossed his features as he looked at her.
“And I want for you to….” She began wanting to talk but it did not happen. As usual he put an end to it.
“Don’t….” He stood up upset.
“Alright…” She let it go.
He looked down at his feet, his back to her.
She stood up and embraced him from behind, wanting to support him.
“You still don’t understand what you’re asking from me. I cannot let you go. Please do not ask me to” He explained as he held onto her hands, squeezing them tightly. He knew he made a lot of mistakes, hurt her a lot over the years with other women, so much wasted time. If only she knew how much he truly, loved her, she would never ask him to let go while she was still alive and with him.
“You will….in time…And I want that for you” She reassured him.
He pulled away from her. She tried desperately to hold onto him, but he would not let her. “What about what I want” He yelled angrily?
“Eric…please…” She reached out to him. Wanting him back in her arms. She did not want to fight, not about this.
“NO….NO, THIS isn’t your decision to make” He stated firmly, still angry and hurt. Angry at the cancer. Hurt by her wanting to talk to him about moving on when she was still alive, when all he wanted was a life with her. She was taking away everything by choosing to not get the treatments and he was resentful.
“I know that. I do. I just…I need to know you’re taken care of” She admitted, her eyes tearing.
The truth of her words. The love that he felt radiating from her. It was too much. He looked down, his face crumbling as the tears came.
She went to him quickly wrapping her arms around him.
He held onto her desperately.