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After Middleton

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George just got home after a tiresome day at the hospital where he works as a cardiac surgeon. He had built quite a reputation throughout the years and was very proud of his professional life. But when the topic was his personal life, he wasn’t so glad to talk about it. After the magical day that he spent with Edith, he started to ask himself if he wanted to continue living a life without adventure, love, and hope.

His marriage ended some months ago, and the only thing that still brought him joy was his beloved son, Conrad. The boy was doing great at Middleton. He loved that place, even started to present a program twice a week at the station, and despite everything, he was ok about the break up of his parents once that they were better now. Conrad always tries to cheer up his father, and every once in a while, he invites him to Middleton to spend some time together.

However, every time George thinks about Middleton, he thinks back to the day with Edith and wonders about her and how life treats her. They didn’t change numbers because they both were in a relationship and didn’t want to put each other in a bad position. But now that George was divorced, the thought of meeting Edith again was all over his mind. He had to find her just to know if they could work together, if she were single, of course, in that single day, she brought more joy to his life than anyone else.

The next day, he woke up and went to his computer to search for Edith. Just the act of doing it made him laugh hard since he started to think what she would say if she knew what he was doing.

But what was her full name? He panicked. He just remembered that she had a furniture shop, wait! “She sells furniture for kids, right?“ He tried to remember. But then he looked at the time and realized that he had to go to the hospital, the searching for Edith would have to wait.

Chapter Text

George had a tough week at the hospital. He was worried about one of his patients and had to go home to rest a little. He didn’t have time to think about Edith or Middleton, and he was so tired that he only wanted to have a calm weekend.

But on his way home he got a text from Conrad that said: “Hey Dad, how are you? Sorry, we couldn’t speak this week. How about a little trip to Middleton? I want to introduce you to my best friend. Call me when you can.”

Once home, George starts Facetime with his son...

“Hey old man! How are you doing?”, Conrad says with a bright smile on his face.

“I'm tired son, but I'm glad we can talk a bit. I had a difficult surgery at the hospital and had to practice a lot.”

“You? Practice? You're perfect, dad!”

“I could be if I continue to study and practice... But enough about me, how things are going over there?”

“It’s ok, I just finished my tests and we’re now waiting for the results. Hey, today was FOUNTAIN FUH-RIDAY! I played the fanfare, everyone loved” George can see how well his son is and that Middleton was the right choice for his life.

“I’m glad to hear it, can’t wait to experience it again...”

“What?! You have gone to a Fountain Fuh-riday?” Conrad asked, a little confused.

“No son, remember when we were visiting Middleton? I just saw how incredible this thing is...” George tries to answer in a convincing way.

“Hm.. ok. So, when you can come here? I want you to meet one of my friends. Her name is Audrey.”

“Ah, a girl...”
“Yeah dad, a girl - Conrad rolls his eyes. - I think you remember her from the visit day, we were in the same group.”

George holds his breath and tries to remember if this Audrey girl was Edith’s daughter. Could it be?

“Dad?!”
“Yes, son... I can’t remember her face but I’m sure she is great.”

“Yes she is... So, what do you think about you coming here next week? Maybe you can take a day off on Friday and come to the Fountain Fuh-riday? You could stay the weekend too..”

“Hm.. I don’t know Conrad, but I promise that I’ll try my best, ok?” George said with a tired voice.

“Ok dad, keep in touch ok? Get some rest, love you!”

“Love you too, kiddo”.

They end the video call and George goes to the bathroom to fresh up. He goes to bed and starts to think about what Conrad said about his friend, Audrey. Could she be Edith’s daughter? With that in mind, he sleeps and dreams about meeting Edith again.

#####

Chapter Text

The next morning George wakes up and goes to the kitchen to make some coffee. He had a good night of sleep but didn’t remember anything about his dreams. His focus is the study of an interesting cardio case; he spends his morning reading and learning about the patient and the procedure he is going to make.

It was midday, he stopped his work and started to cook his lunch; nothing fancy, just some protein with rice and vegetables. While eating, his thoughts go to Edith once again; he has to find her on the internet. He finishes his meal, goes to his notebook, and starts searching until he stops at one site of children’s furniture. His heart skips a beat when he sees a photograph of her in the middle of her store where she is smiling with her arms crossed.

George can’t stop staring at her picture, he misses her so much that hurts. How is it possible to have such a strong feeling for a person that he just spent one day with? - He kept asking him this same question and he couldn’t find a proper answer.

At the bottom of the page he finds her full name - Edith Martin. He says her name, again and again, he likes the sound of it and at that moment he realizes that he had felt hard for her. He continues to navigate through her site exploring every page, text, and photograph; he can’t stop smiling to himself while learning that she was a successful businesswoman, mother of one daughter... Audrey Martin.

He frozes.

It would be a great coincidence if Conrad’s Audrey was Edith’s daughter, isn’t it? Now, more than ever, he was willing to go to Middleton to spend time with his son and met his new best friend; George checked his schedule and made some arrangements in order to start his little trip on Friday morning.

He text Conrad, telling him that he would be there on Friday, just in time for the main event of the university. After that, he resumed his studies, sometimes taking some seconds to just see Edith’s smile.

The week resumes and George spends all his time at the hospital, he performs the surgery perfectly and is glad that he could save one more life. He didn’t have the time to think about Edith the way he liked, while browsing her site he had found her email, the store’s number, and address but he didn’t have the courage to make a move. His thoughts were in how Conrad would feel and if it would be ok for him to start seeing someone other than his mother.

On Thursday night, George packed his things for the trip the next morning. He was anxious and nervous about meeting Audrey, he thought about things to say but had no success. Finally, he went to bed and tried to have some sleep.

His alarm started to ring; after some seconds he was awake and ready to begin his trip to the University. It was a 4 hour trip, and once he was on the road he thought about the last time he was on this same path with Conrad two years ago.

###

Flashback

“What happened to your glasses?” Conrad asked him.

At that moment, he was transported back to that bell tower where he and Edith had shared a magic moment. It was more than just a kiss, it was the encounter of two souls that had been looking for each other for so long.

“Dad? Are you ok?”

“Yeah, please take the long way home.” he said with tears in his eyes.

####

George teared up again while remembering that day. Even though it has been 2 years ago the feeling he had for Edith still lives in his heart. He tried not to think about it so much and returned his attention to the road, he was almost there.

Chapter Text

The sign for Middleton was just a few miles ahead, and George couldn’t help but feel happy for coming to see his boy; Since he got divorced, he tried to spend more time with Conrad, who had promised that he would come home for the holiday season.

They always had a great time together. After that fatidic day at Middleton, their relationship evolved to a stronger bond, and George was glad for it. He started to listen more to his son and also stopped to make Conrad wear a tie; he was calmer now and just doesn’t think that everyone has to wear a tie every day, thanks to Edith, of course.

The first thing he sees while approaching the campus is the bell tower. He smiles and tries to find the best place to park his car. He doesn’t care anymore about how he parks his car, and life is too short to be concerned about these little things. He is just in time to watch the spectacle in front of his eyes one more time: a bunch of people running with balls, boats, and floaters to the main fountain.
The fanfare starts to play on the speakers. George takes a time to breathe and closes his eyes. He is transported back to that day while Edith was grabbing his hands to get him in the fountain, the time stopped, and the only people that mattered were them. They danced, played, laughed…

“Dad?” Conrad stands near the parking lot, curiously watching George.


“Hello, son!” George runs to give his kid a warm hug.

“I’m so happy that you’re here, dad, come on let’s get soaked!”.

Father and son start to walk to the hot spot of the college.

“I can’t wait to introduce you to Audrey. She is somewhere near here.”

“I’m happy that you’re making new friends’ son! Ah, this is one of the most beautiful campuses that I have ever been to. I'm glad to be visiting you, I miss you, you know…”

“I had missed you too dad, I’m thankful to be at Middleton”.

Someone starts to wave to them.

“Conrad!” Audrey is waiting for them on a bench under the tree near the fountain.

“Dad, this is Audrey. Audrey this is my father George Hartman”.

When George sees Audrey, his heart skips a beat, and he is now a hundred percent sure that she is Edith’s daughter.

“Hello Dr. Hartman.” Audrey says a little shyly.

“Hi, nice to meet you properly Audrey! Please call me George. I remember you from the visit day, good to see that you two are friends.”

Conrad and Audrey smile at each other as they start to walk to the water.

The Fountain Fuh-riday event is incredible. George takes the time to observe his son's manners around Audrey. They look remarkably intimate but seem to be just friends, he thinks. They are exhausted after almost an hour, sitting in the grass to let the sun dry their clothes. They are smiling at each other, just enjoying the moment.

Until Conrad asks: “Dad, where are you staying?”

George grabs his iPhone and finds the address of the hotel he is staying at on the weekend.

“It’s not far from here, don’t worry. What do you have planned for us?”

“Well, I think you can go to the hotel to settle and then we could have dinner together, Audrey is going with us, ok?”

George smiles at his son. “Of course, I’m looking forward to it.”

George says goodbye to the kids and takes the way to his car. But in the way, he changes his mind and goes to the bell tower. He climbs all the stairs, trying not to be noticed. When he reaches the top, his heart rate is a little elevated, but he wants to be there for a minute just to think about Edith. His eyes search the place and find a person standing there alone, it’s a woman.


“Edith?”

Chapter Text

“Edith?” George says slowly.

The woman turns around and looks directly into George's eyes with a big smile on her face with tears in her eyes

“George! Oh my God! It is you!” She says a little too loud, appearing to be shocked with his presence.

“What are you doing here?” George asks her, trying to understand what was happening.

“Oh George, it is a long story, I can’t believe that you’re here. I have been thinking about you since the day we met, and now we’re here in that same spot.” She is a little confused.

“Wait! Why are you here?”. He asks

“Audrey invited me to spend the weekend here. I was with her earlier, then I said that I had to go to the hotel that I’m staying at but I couldn’t resist this view and the memories that I made here at Middleton.” She says sincerely.

“Oh, I am here to spend a few days with Conrad too! I met Audrey a few minutes ago, our kids seem to be very good friends”.

“I knew that Audrey was not telling me the whole truth about this visit! But, whatever! I’m glad that I found you here”.

They stood in silence for some minutes, just observing each other, still apart...

George is the first to say something:

“Well, I’d love to spend more time with you, maybe we could go to some coffee shop, or something like that?”. He asks, trying to transmit calmness through his voice.

“I think this is an excellent idea, shall we?”

He let her take the lead to go downstairs, but when she came closer she stopped in front of him with a gorgeous smile and said:

“I can see that someone listened to me and doesn't wear ties 24/7 now” She was laughing with her hand in his chest.

He just smiled at her while she closed the small distance between them and gave him a kiss in his face. With his heart beating fast, he followed her though the stairs.

They didn’t know what their kids had planned for them.

Chapter Text

Flashback

##

"Mom?" Audrey said, looking at Edith while driving home.

After some seconds Edith answered his daughter.

"We're going to be ok." She said with a small smile on her face.

Audrey knew that her mother wasn't going to say anything this time, she turned her attention to the road again.

##

During these two years, Edith tried to make her marriage work. After all, she tried to give her daughter a real home. However, as the days passed, her husband didn't understand her silence or sadness. Things started to get more complicated, and in the end, they also agreed to separate their lives.

Edith focused on her shop and was doing pretty great with her business. She got more space in the market share of children's furniture and even got a few magazines to write articles about her new ideas and plans. They made a website to sell online, and despite everything that had happened, she was happy and ready to work hard.

Audrey chose Middleton, even though Dr. Emerson hardly tested her. Since she wasn't a girl that changed her mind quickly, she continued to study hard, trying to be a better person that had learned a lesson. When college started, she found Conrad on the campus, and they began to talk to each other. They quickly became friends once they knew one another from that day.

Edith, on the other hand, kept silent about everything that happened. She didn't dare to search for George online, even though she remembered his full name and the hospital where he worked.

Once in a while, she visited Audrey in Middleton. Of course, she loved to see her child elated and living her dreams, but that place also brought many memories and emotions. She usually went there in the middle of the semester, and she preferred to go on the weekdays to have time to walk throughout the campus and even watch some acting classes.

One day, Audrey spotted her near the bell tower. She would surprise her mother when she saw that Edith had tears in her eyes.

“Mom? Are you ok?"

When Edith heard her daughter's voice, she tried to clean her face.

"Oh, hi honey! I wasn't expecting you until later. I'm ok"

"But you were crying, mom. Why can't you tell me the reason behind all this sadness?" Audrey was a little tired of not understanding her mother.

Edith breathed and realized that she could trust her daughter. Now it was time to tell her story.

"Ok, let's go up to the bell tower. I can tell you everything from there."

Audrey didn't understand why they had to go there but followed her mother.

Once there, Edith looked around and closed her eyes… Then, she started to talk about that magical day.

"You remember that day when we were here in Middleton to do the tour…?"

[…]

Audrey was silent after everything that her mother told her. She was a little surprised by all the facts. However, now she understood the past two years' events more clearly. She could see the pain in her mother's face. She knew that she tried hard to maintain her marriage, but now that Audrey was starting to love some people, she could figure that a love like that was rare and not easy to find.

Edith was looking to her feet, without knowing what to say next when Audrey went to hug her.

"Mom, I'm glad that you had the courage to talk about all these things with me."

"I'm sorry, dear, I was scared to tell you everything because I didn't know if I could support your rage or your apathy."

Audrey thought a little after starting to talk again.

"Well, maybe at that time I wouldn't understand what you felt that day. I was a little stubborn, wasn't I?"

"That you were!" Edith said, laughing.

"I love you, mom, and I want you to know that you can tell me everything. I'm here for you."

"I love you too, honey!".

After that day, Edith was relieved that she didn't have to keep secrets from her daughter.

Chapter Text

Present

##

Edith and George walk side by side through the campus, still in silence. They couldn't believe how lucky they were to find each other again.

"So…" George tries to start a conversation.

"So…" Edith repeats his own words.

George laughs.

"I can't believe that I found you there at our spot"

"Our spot, huh?" Edith says with a large smile.

"Well, I think that we could call it that way. I really cherished every minute that we had here, Edith. I missed you."

"I missed you too, George, but believe me when I say that you were always in my mind."

George smiles. His heart is full of hope and joy.

"The coffee shop that I said is near the campus, but I think that we should go by car, is that a problem?"

“No, not at all.”

They get to the parking lot, close to George's car. Edith stops without knowing what to do.

“What?” George asks.

"We're going in the same car?" Edith asks

"I thought so, please come with me Edith."

"Oh, ok. Let's go then."

They both get in the car and go to the coffee shop. They didn't know that their kids were behind a tree, watching them with smiles on their faces.

"I told you that they are perfect to each other, didn't I ?" Conrad says, laughing at Audrey.

"Yeah, you were right. I haven't seen my mother so happy in the last couple of years."

"Well, I hope that they could figure out that they're meant to be and don't get mad at us."

“Me too Conrad, me too.”

//

- At the Café

George and Edith sit at a small table at the back of the shop, trying to find some privacy.

The waitress goes there to take their orders.

They make their wishes, and she goes to get what they want.

"George, I'm sorry…." Edith starts to say when he interrupts her by putting his hand over hers.

"You don't have to feel sorry about anything. We're here now, and I'm glad that we have all the time in the world to talk. That one day was perfect but ended so fast, let us enjoy the present time." George says, looking into her beautiful eyes.

"You're right George. I have so many things to tell you. These last two years weren't easy at all." She says with a small smile on her face.

"No, they weren't. How are you, truly?"

Edith takes a deep breath and start to tell George about the last years of her life:

"Well, it is a long story, but the short version is that after a year, my husband… my ex-husband, and I decided to live our lives separated, and since then, I'm all in at work. My business is thriving, and Audrey is happy here in Middleton… So I'm happy too."

George doesn't say a word in seconds, still processing everything Edith said. So she got divorced too…

The waitress shows up and puts their coffees on the table.

"If you need something just call me."

"Ok, thank you" They say together.

"I'm sorry for my silence and your breakup. I just didn't know what to say before." George looks directly into her eyes and continues: "I'm just mesmerized with the fact that our lives have been on the same path, even though we were apart. After some months, Conrad's mother and I talked and decided to end our marriage. I just couldn't be a hundred percent in, like she deserved, so we parted in good terms, we're still friends, and Conrad is glad for that."

Now it was Edith’s turn to be speechless.

"I'm so sorry, George." Edith says while putting her hand over his.

George gives her a small smile.

"After that, I tried to find you. I even entered your website and saw your interviews...your photographs. You have a perfect mind for the furniture business."

"Oh! You looked for me…" Edith says

"Yeah, you weren't the only person to think about that day in Middleton, you know?" George says with a small smile.

"I was afraid to get in touch with you. I knew about your wife… We knew that that French movie didn't end well…."

"I know, but now the universe is giving us another chance to explore these feelings. Even though we're just meant to be friends, I want you to be a part of my life." George says seriously.

"I want that too…" Edith says shyly.

"So, where are you staying? I told Conrad that I was going to the hotel to unpack and be ready for dinner. Do you like to come with us?"

"I'm staying at the hotel close to the campus. Actually, I think that that is the only hotel near here" Edith says, laughing at George.

"Oh, you're right, I guess." He laughs at her too.

"Thank you, though, for your invitation, but I have some plans with Audrey."

George is momentarily confused, but he thinks that it's better to say nothing about what Conrad told him about Audrey.

"Oh, ok… I hope we can spend some more time together. I'll stay here until Sunday."

"I'll be here till Sunday too, and I would love to see you again, George Hartman."

They both pay for their drinks and go to George's car.

"Where you wanna go now? Your car is on the campus, right?"

"Yes, it is. If you could drive me there…"

“Yes, ma’m!”

Edith laughs at him and punches his arm affectionately.

//

When they got to the parking space, they didn't want to say goodbye. They keep in silence, waiting for someone to make the first move.

It was Edith…

"I loved to see you, George. Here's my number." She gives her card to him. "Send me a message later today."

George picks up the card and their hands touch. They look to each other, like there isn't anything around them, call it magic…

Some seconds later, George breaks the eye contact and goes for a kiss on her cheek. She goes for it simultaneously, and they end up kissing each other. It was just a peck, but they separate, surprised by their actions.

They’re blushing.

“See you later Edith.”

“See you later, George”.

She looks at him one more time and gets out of the car. It was like not a single day had passed since their first encounter.

Chapter Text

##

Audrey and Conrad became friends very quickly. They shared some interests and liked to talk about anything. She was really into his music taste, so they always had something to do together.

Making friends wasn’t the easiest task for Conrad. He was glad that Audrey decided to attend Middleton. Since they knew each other from the visitation day, it was natural that they bonded.

After discovering the truth about that day with her mother, Audrey gathered information about George. In the beginning, she tried to keep the secret from Conrad, but eventually, she explained to him everything that their parents experienced together. While talking about it, everything becomes clear about the sadness and the eventual decision that both made, the divorce.

When they realize that Edith and George didn’t have any reason to be apart, they start to think about a way to get them together, in Middleton, the place where they had felt in love.

Conrad was responsible for inviting his dad to spend a specific weekend with him while Audrey had to convince Edith that going to Middleton on a Friday morning wasn’t bad at all.
They were excited to help their parents to understand that all the sadness and loneliness that they were feeling was actually their hearts telling that they miss each other.

##

When Audrey and Conrad saw the two of them going out together in George’s car, they were cheering for a good conversation. They arranged a romantic dinner for them. It would be a pleasant surprise.

Chapter Text

George drives to the hotel after dropping Edith at the parking lot. His heart was beating like a drum, but he was full of hope that with time, he and Edith could build something together. He parks his car at the only hotel in town and goes to the reception to check-in.

“Good evening, George Hartman”.

“Good evening sir, welcome to our hotel. Just a sec, I’ll give you your card.” Says a polite hotel manager.

“Here it is, your room is the 220, double bed, two nights, right?”

“Yes! Thank you”.

George gets his bag and goes to the elevator; he needs to take a shower…he needs to be refreshed to a possible good dinner.

##

Edith needed some air. She exited George’s car and stood next to hers. Trying to process everything that had happened in a short time.

The love they shared in that fatidic day was still there. She was thinking about their brief kiss when Audrey spotted her.

“Hey mom, why are you still here?”

“Oh honey, you can’t believe what just happened. I found George here, in Middleton. We went to a café and talked a bit. He just dropped me here.”

“Hm… Are you ok? You seem a little off…?” Audrey was starting to be worried about their date.

“We shared a kiss, on the lips! I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do.”

“Oh my God, mom! I’m so happy for you two!” She hugs her mother with relief.

“You are?” Edith smiles at her daughter; she is surprised by how different she is now.

“Yes, mom, I am. I want you to be happy… Don’t forget that”. She was smiling.

“Thank you, dear, he invited me to have dinner with his son, but I said that we had some plans.”

“Oh!” Audrey realizes what is going to happen late that night.

“That’s ok honey, he is staying here until Sunday. We have time, and I gave him my number…so.”

“I’m proud of you, mom.” Audrey says sincerely.

Edith smiles to her and says:

“I’m going to the hotel now. Text me the address of the restaurant, ok?”

“Sure, mom, see ya!” They said their goodbyes, and Edith got in her car and drove to the hotel.

She was glad that she had already told Audrey about what happened and was willing to be with George again.

##

Chapter Text

Edith gets her car and drives herself to the hotel. Her mind is spiraling with all the possibilities that life was giving her. She tries to regain clarity by focusing on her breathing. After all, she still has to attend a dinner with her daughter.

She gets where she needs and has no problem with the manager finding her room. They put her on the second floor, room 222. Doesn't she know that George was just a few feet away from her. Her accommodation has beautiful decoration. She was becoming familiarized with this place.

She sits on her bed and starts to plan what she will do this night. Doing a checklist helped her to keep her mind from George. First, she has to unpack to choose a suitable outfit for the night. She is excited to spend some quality time with Audrey since the last time she came to Middleton was almost two months ago.

After picking a black dress with some green details that enhance her eyes, she goes to the bathroom to take a quick shower, it is almost 6 PM, and she needs to get ready. While she was showering, Edith sent her a text with the restaurant's address, and it was not so far from the hotel, so she decided to take a cab. She is willing to drink a good wine tonight.

She looked at herself over the mirror and finished her makeup within seconds. She was ready.

###

George couldn't believe that she had found Edith again at Middleton. He knew that this second opportunity was God's way of showing them that they had to be in each other lives. But this night isn't about his love life, he is going to have dinner with his beloved son, and from that, he tries to keep his mind in control.

After resting a bit, he starts to look into his clothes and seeks to find something that isn't too formal. He ends with beige trousers and a marine blue sweater. He is ready in just half an hour and texts Conrad to let him know everything is going as planned.

He exits his room and rapidly gets in his car; the place Conrad had chosen wasn't so far from the hotel, but he prefers to take his car anyway.

###

-
At the Restaurant

Edith is already at the place her daughter has told her. She is a little impatient because Audrey was late and isn't answering her phone calls. The restaurant is a nice place, not too big, with a couple of tables displayed at a good distance from each other. They have a lot of different dishes on their menu, but Italian food is what makes them famous in town.

"Hi, it's Audrey. I can't talk to you right now. Please leave a message!" Edith is starting to worry about her kid. Where is she?

That's when she sees George Hartman, her George, standing at the front desk talking to the host.

While the man in front of him tries to find his reservation, he feels her presence, and they lock eyes with each other.

"Hey, I'm seeing a friend of mine over there. Can I go and sit with her?" George asks, trying to keep calm.

"Of course, sir, let me show the way." The host says politely.

George follows him, and when he gets to the table where Edith is, he can't hold a big smile from appearing on his face.

“Hi!” Edith says.

“Hi!” George looks at her with loving eyes.

She thanks the host and invite George to sit with her.

"George, what are you doing here?" She asks him in a heartbeat.

"Well, you know, I was supposed to have dinner with Conrad and Audrey tonight, son texted me the address, and here I am." He is a little confused but can't complain about being with Edith sooner than he expected.

"Oh, I think our kids tricked us, George. Audrey also texted me about this place and nothing else. Maybe there're playing cupids with us?" She says, laughing a bit.

George really missed her laugh; it was different from everything that he knows.

"I reckon you're right, but I didn't tell Conrad about you. I'm sorry, by the way." He says sincerely.

"I told everything to Audrey, she spotted me one time crying in front of the bell tower so…" She looks to her hand.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear about the crying part, my dear, but I'm glad that you two talked." George tries to decipher her face.

They sit there, looking at each other for the first time this night. So much can be said with the eyes.

"Listen, George, I'm delighted to be here with you. I really am. I cannot believe that we have this second chance, but I feel like we need to talk to find our pace again. I'm not going to lie to you about my feelings, and I need you to tell me about yours too." Edith was serious while saying these words, but she knew that she had to do it in the right way.

Before he could answer her, she says: "Please, Mr. Quiet, tell me all the things that you're keeping in your heart."

George extends his hand over the table to reach for hers. She doesn't hesitate to take his hands. They intertwine their fingers. George feels safe now, and he can talk.

"Ok, I have been all by myself lately. I didn't try to find someone else after my divorce because I couldn't stop thinking about you. What we had experienced is too special to forget. I think my mind just has to believe that we're here, right now, together." George takes a deep breath and continues.

"I want to enjoy each and every minute that I can have by your side, so let's enjoy this night, my love." George just realized that he had called her 'my love,' he is blushing.

Edith was in awe of all that George had said to her. With every word, she felt more in love with that man that sat across her.

She laughs at him, blushing, and says: "Ok Georgie, let's enjoy this night and everything that comes with it."

They smile at each other and call the waiter to make their orders.

Chapter Text

After saying everything that was in his heart, George starts to feel at ease with Edith. They are talking about their childhood, their dreams, how their kids were the best part of them, and how lucky they are to be at the same place again. Edith is enjoying her merlot while observing her companion. She finds him so attractive but more than that, a beautiful soul that hers was searching for so long.

“We have to thank our kids in the morning for this” She references the dinner they were having.

“Yes, we have. I can’t believe they pushed some strings to get us together again, but I’m glad they did.” George was smiling at her.

“Me too,” She says. She would say something else when a song starts to play at the lounge, and she looks at him with a smirk in her eyes. He understands immediately.

“Can I have this dance, my dear?” He says while offering his hand to her.

She takes it, and they stand together while walking to the center of the restaurant, where a few couples are already dancing to the slow ballad that is playing.

I'd love to get to know you better
Dear Mr. Quiet
I'd love to get to know you better
When nobody's around

George is thrilled to have Edith in his arms once again. They sway slowly, taking the time to savor the feeling of being so close after so long. The song says so much for them, cause they would love to know everything about the other and spend much time together, ‘when nobody’s around.

“I forgot to say earlier, you’re looking gorgeous in that dress, it matches with your eyes” George can’t stop looking at her.

“Thank you, George, you’re not bad yourself” She laughs, caressing his face.

After a moment in silence while they were just dancing.

“George?” She says while looking into his eyes.

“Yes, dear.” He answers while touching her face with his nose. He was so in love with Edith, oh God.

She smiles. “You remember about that act class that we took that day?”

He was surprised by the question.

“Of course, I remember, I was overwhelmed by everything I felt at that moment with you. It was like there were only the two of us in the class.”

“Yeah.” She says softly. “Me too, at that moment, I felt in love with you, George Hartman. At that moment, I knew that you were my soulmate, and it hurt because life was too complicated; I couldn’t just forget the life I had…” She has tears in her eyes, George clears it with his thumb.

“My love, despite loving having this conversation with you now, I think we should have it in another place, don’t you think?” He says with truth in his voice.

“You’re right, maybe we should dance to another music and go somewhere else” She looks into his eyes while speaking.

That’s when George cannot help himself, and in a heartbeat, he goes for a kiss. Their lips melted together in a tender moment, both savoring the love they felt for each other.

When they need air, they pull from the kiss and keep smiling, their eyes saying more than anyone could tell.

“I know where we should go to continue this conversation.” George says with a grin on his face.

“I’ll trust you on that” She laughs “Let’ go then.”

They walked hand by hand to their table and ordered their check. George insists on paying for everything, and after some seconds and some smiles between one another, Edith agrees, and they are headed to George’s car.

“Thank God I came by cab this evening. I think I was feeling that some prince in shining armor was going to rescue me.” They start to laugh together, and George opens the door for her while stealing another kiss from Edith.

“I can become used to this dear Mr. Quiet.” She says playfully.

“I hope you will.” George says while coming back to his side of the car.

“So, where are we going?” Edith asks with curiosity.

“Hm… I thought about our spot, and maybe we could go up in the bell tower and resume our talking. What do you think?” George asks.

“I would love to see Middleton at night from there.”

“Belltower it is…” George says with a bright smile on his face.

He starts the car and takes the road to the campus.

Chapter Text

While driving, George just can’t stop thinking about how lucky he is to have found Edith again, he has a grin on his face that nothing in the world could change. All the way to the campus they have their fingers intertwined, it is incredible how they fit so well together.

Once on the campus, he stops the car in the parking lot and goes to open Edith’s door. Yes, he was a complete fool in love.

“Here we are.” He says helping her to get out of the car.

“Let’s go to our spot George!” Edith is excited to be there one more time.

They start walking, hand by hand, savoring the beautiful moonlight that is making each part of the place more magical.

“Wait!” George says, pushing her to a white bench near the bell tower. Edith grins at him, they are having the time of their lives.

They sit facing one another, locking eyes. George brings his hand to her cheek, he can’t get enough of her.

“Edith, I don’t know where we’re heading but I’ve never been so sure in my life about someone. I want to be in your life in any way you’ll allow me, I want to wake up every day with you in my arms. I’m all in.”. He says with glassy eyes.

Edith couldn’t find a perfect response so she brings her hand to him and pulls him for a kiss.

George drops his hand from her face to her waist and pulls her closer, her arms wrap around his neck while their lips crash together. They both need to stop for air and stay with their foreheads connected.

“Let’s go upstairs, Edith.” George says stealing a quick kiss from her.

They are almost at the church main entrance when they hear a few voices coming closer. Both are aware that it may be the campus guards, this thought makes them smile since they recall that one time when they took two bikes to ride through Middleton.

“Let’s go inside before they get here.” George says in a low tone.

Edith agrees with her head and follows George through the door. They find the stairs that lead to the bell tower and once there, they are both in awe with the view from up there. The moonlight causes an incredible effect in the trees and buildings, what a perfect night to be with someone that you love.

“George, are you ok?” Edith asks him, remembering that he was afraid of heights.

He smiles at her, she didn’t forget.

“I’m ok, I have been facing that fear of mine over the last two years since I had an amazing experience at the top of a belltower.” He says smiling while looking directly into her gorgeous eyes.

She blushes.

“Glad to know” She gives him a shy smile.

“When I stop to think about it, it seems like everything that I’ve been through in the last year happened to make me be here with you, today.” He says, taking her hand in his.

“I have this exact same feeling you know”. Edith says leading them to the railing.

She tries to read him and all she can find is hope, love, and happiness.

George takes her in his arms and start to sway gently with her and says:

“Well, where were we?” He asks referring to their earlier conversation

“We were talking about the acting class.” Edith says while enjoying being in his arms once more.

He thinks before starting to talk, trying to get all the feelings he had while they were “acting” that day.

“My love...” He pauses, cupping her face with one of his hands.

“That acting class changed everything for me. It hit me in a way that made me question each and every decision in my life until that day. Made me think if I had waited a little more before getting married to the first girl I fell in love with”. He pauses. “Of course, I don’t regret every step that I took but, I was overwhelmed with the fact that the way I started to feel for someone that I had just met”.

Edith nods and makes sure he could continue to talk.

“At that moment I also knew that whatever we were feeling was too important to let it go”. He has tears in his eyes and Edith couldn’t help and brushes them away with her thumb.

They stand in silence until Edith reorganize her thoughts and starts to say:

“I’m glad that we are on the same page about our feelings George” She takes both her hands to his face.

“I feel the same way about this, about us. I’m all in too.” Edith is smiling and she can feel all the love radiating from George, and she knows that it is all for her.

George doesn’t wait another minute and goes for her lips. It was soft at first but as they start to deepen it they both melt in each other's arms.

They have to take a minute to breathe, Edith has a soft smile on her reddish lips. George was indeed the love of her life.

“I can’t get enough of you.” George says.

“We’re even George.” Edith says, turning to look at the spectacular view from the bell tower.

“Good, if you ever feel like we’re taking things too fast let me know, I want us to be comfortable about every decision we make, ok?” He says also turning to the view of the campus.

“Ok” She squeezes his hand to reassure him that everything was fine.

Edith leans into his shoulder and can’t help the feeling that for the first time in her life she doesn’t need to be scared of all the possibilities that lay ahead of them.

Chapter Text

It's almost 11: 00 PM, and George and Edith are at the top of their worlds. The campus flowers scent the night, and the moonlight makes everything more loveable. They remain close to each other, just savoring that they can do it.

The bell rings, indicating that it is time to return to the hotel.

“George?” Edith asks.

"Hm..." George turns into her to have a good look at her beautiful face.

"I just remembered what that monitor said during our first time here." She pauses, taking a few minutes to think about that day. "He said that at the end of the day, when the bell rang, we would fall in love in Middleton."

George's face is surprised, and he sighs while brushing his fingers in Edith's cheek. "He was correct, wasn't he?"

"He was, indeed". Edith moves in to kiss him very softly on the lips while closing her eyes. George smiles and stands there a minute with his forehead glued to hers.

"I think we should get going. Our kids must be worried about us". George says.

"Well, at least they know that we're with each other" She answers with a grin on her face. "But you're right. We still have to get to your car without making any noise".

George laughs, remembering the guards, and takes Edith's hands in his.

They go down the stairs of the church and try to be as smooth as the cats in the night.

Once in the car, they are ready to take the streets to the hotel, Edith checks her iPhone and reads a message from Audrey:

"Hey mom, just checking on you guys. Hope you're not angry with us. We're in the hotel waiting for you. XoXo".

"Turns out our kids know exactly what they're doing, George" Edith laughs with herself while telling the content of the message to him.

"I'm not surprised. Tell her that we're on our way." He says, turning his attention to the road once more.

It's 11:40 PM when they arrive at the hotel. Both are grinning like teenagers in love, and anyone can see it just to look at the way they stand in each other's orbit.

"Hi mom!" Audrey calls Edith from the lobby of the hotel. She was sitting with Conrad waiting for them.

Edith squeezes George's hands and walks toward the direction of their kids.

"Hey babe, glad to find you both here." She hugs Audrey and turns her attention to Conrad.

"And you're the famous Conrad, your father and Audrey talk a lot about you." She says, smiling.

“MOM” Audrey interjects.

"Sorry, honey." Edith responds and goes to hug the son of the love of her life.

"Pleasure to meet you, Edith, and thank you for making my father a happy man." Conrad says while he embraces George, who is still silent, just observing their interaction.

"So, I guess you're not here just to welcome us after a master plan to bring us together, am I right?" George grins.

"You're right, dad. We would like to talk to you guys if you don't mind." Conrad calmly says.

"Alright then, shall we go to one of our rooms?" Edith asks.

They both nood and go to the elevador.

"Which floor are you on, my love?" George asks Edith.

“Second floor, room 222.” Edith says naturally.

George smiles and rubs his eyes. "Believe it or not, they put me in room 220. I'm your 'neighbor'.

Edith can't help herself and goes to hug him while laughing.

Conrad and Audrey are still in shock about how calm, happy, and in love their parents are.

When the elevator opens the door to the second floor, they walk into the corridor to stand in front of George's room: 220.

"I guess we're here. Let's go inside, kids." George opens the door and lets them in.

Before going in, Edith takes George's hands and makes him look into her eyes. Every time they stand together like this, they feel complete and fully open to being each other's soulmates.

"So, we're doing this?" Edith says first, reaching for his face.

George leans into her touch. It feels like home.

"We're doing this. I'm all in, my love." George smiles at her and takes her face in his hands too.

"I love you George"

"I love you too"

He leans in to kiss her softly on the lips, and then they go inside to talk to their kids.

Chapter Text

George and Edith are very nervous about having this talk with their kids, despite knowing that what they're feeling is true and sacred. Once in the room, they find Audrey and Conrad sitting side by side on the sofa, their expressions showing apprehension.

He and Edith sit on the edge of the bed, very close to one another.

"So kids, I think that you two know about the way we met each other here in Middleton." George starts the conversation stating a fact, and he knew that they were aware of that day.

They both nod.

"I just want to say that we knew that we couldn't pursue a relationship then. We had vows and a family to return." He looks to Edith. She squeezes his hand, reassuring him to continue the talk.

He breathes and continues. "We both tried to move on, but we weren't happy anymore, and it broke me to keep your mother in a marriage without passion and love. It's funny because we didn't contact each other. I had no idea where Edith lived. It was just recently that I found her website, but I didn't contact her."

"That's true, guys, and now we're here... Still shocked that we met again in the same place. Do you have something to say about it?" Edith Laughs.

Audrey is the first to talk.

"Well, mom told me about your history and the day you guys spent here, she was visiting me, and I remember that she was really sad while looking at the belltower. So I talked to her and begged her to tell me what was happening. I was so worried about her. And then she began to tell me everything about you, George, and how that encounter changed her life". Audrey takes a minute to reorganize her thoughts and continues.

"I remembered seeing you with Conrad." She says, pointing to George. "And I just had to ask Conrad about his father to understand that our parents were in love and were sad without each other." Audrey smiles.

She looks at Conrad, who nods at her and starts to tell his side of the story.

"Dad, I didn't know what to say to Audrey when she told me everything that she knew about this story, but I was glad to help her to unite both of you. I missed your smile and you in a relaxed vibe." Conrad wakes up and sits beside his dad, looking into his eyes.

"I'm so happy that you have talked and spent some time alone. I'm sure that when two people are meant to be, all the obstacles aren't as big as the happiness that could be achieved."

George has glassy eyes, he loves his son so much, and everything that he wanted was not to hurt his feelings.

Edith grabs George's hands as he meets her gaze. They are thrilled to be clear with their kids. From now on, it's a whole new life. Her thumb slowly brushes back and forth against the back of his hand. He was a lucky man indeed.

"The truth is that we are so glad that our plan worked, and you two are together and willing to try." Audrey stands and goes to Edith's side.

“Yeah” Conrad agrees.

George envelops them in a family hug. They stand there for a few moments until each one returns to their place in the room.

"Audrey?" George says, calling to her to listen to him.

"I want to reassure you that my intentions with your mother are the best ones. I'll be the man that she deserves. I promise to be here for you and your mother. As I've said to her, I'm all in." George smiles at everyone.

"Thank you, George. I know that you're a man of word and, of course, a man of heart." She winks at him.

Edith laughs. She gets the joke that her daughter just said.

"Guys, I think me and Audrey should get going. We'll see you tomorrow?" Conrad asks.

"Yes, of course. Maybe we could grab breakfast together. What do you think?" Edith asks them.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," George says.

"Then, we'll text you the address of a place that we like," Conrad agrees and goes to hug his father.

"I love to see you this happy dad. I'm glad that you two are going to try." He says.

"I am too, son, thank you for the dinner plan and everything else. I'll see you tomorrow".

"See ya! Good Night!"

Conrad hugs Edith and exits the room, waiting for Audrey in the hall.

"See you tomorrow, mom, take care of yourself." Audrey says while hugging Edith.

"Good night, my dear" She kisses her hair and goes with her to the door.

She closes the door and turns around to look at George, who is smiling at her.

"So, what are we going to do now?" She asks.

"Whatever we want." George says, pulling her into his embrace.

She instinctively buries her face in his neck as she slides her arms around his waist, relaxing against his body. It is easy and familiar. They are where they're supposed to be.

He brings his arms around her, sliding one hand into her hair. He guides her mouth to his, slowly, confidently.

Both want to savor the moment. The kiss is slow, passionate, but this isn't a prelude to sex – not tonight. Everything they are doing is about intimacy. It is a delicate reaffirmation that they are together for the long haul.

And like that, they fall asleep in each other's arms, the first night of many to come.