I didn't post this last night, because I'm less than pleased with it. I still am, but tonight's a very special night: Mr. Maxime Talbot is returning to the line-up in Ottawa. AND, as if that wasn't enough to make you giddy with anticipation, Sergei Gonchar is returning as well. Maybe my fantasy team will finally break 500.... But *most importantly,* LET'S GO PENS!!
P.S. Thank you all for the amazing comments. I appreciate each of you.
Soundtrack Song - Evanescence, Good Enough
I know I need to get off of Max and call Jordan, but I don't want to move. It's not that this position is really very comfortable, because it isn't; I'm kind of afraid to have to face Max. After all that, after everything he said.... What am I supposed to do?
"Are you okay?" he asks me, since I haven't moved.
"Yeah," I respond, my voice deep and rough-sounding from all that emotion. I can feel a headache building up behind my eyes from all this tension. When I pull back away from him, I rub my eyes and grab for my phone in my pocket.
As I scroll through my contacts, Max places his hand over mine, and I look up at him. Concern is written on his face. "You do believe me, right?"
The urge to cry threatens to take over, but I suppress it and inadvertently make my headache worse. Emotions suck. "I do. I believe everything you say, it's just... hard to believe it's true."
"Believe it, baby," he says, pressing his lips against my temple.
I sit back on the couch and call Jordan while Max cleans up our dinner, glad for the distraction so I can't retreat into my head. Jordan answers the phone and skips the formalities. "Tell it to me straight, Charlotte."
"He's gonna be fine. He has all his mental faculties. After rehab for his leg, he'll be back to his old self." His old, rotten self.
"Do you think I can go see him? I mean, would that make him mad? I need to apologize or something, and I don't think a get-well card is gonna do the trick."
"Um, well, I don't know, Jord. I can see where you're coming from, that you want to make sure he's okay and everything, but I don't know that seeing him is a good idea. If someone hit you with a car, would you want to see him?"
He's silent on the line. "But it was an accident."
"I know. I know you didn't mean anyone any harm when you got into your car that day. But I'm not sure that's how John or Libby is going to see it. If you really want to, if you feel like it's what you need to do, go ahead and go see him. But just know that you're probably not going to get a warm reception."
"Okay, I'll think about it."
"Not to put pressure on you or anything, but they're going to take him up to Toronto as soon as the paperwork clears, so he can be around what family he has left. So I don't know how much longer he'll be in Pittsburgh."
"All right. Thanks for calling, Charlotte."
"No prob, Jordy. I know you feel bad, but... he's going to be okay. Don't be too hard on yourself about it."
I hang up and rub my eyes again, applying pressure to try and ease the headache. It doesn't help, so I head for the medicine cabinet in the bathroom for some Tylenol. I pop a couple pills, bending over to take a gulp from the faucet of the sink. When I stand up straight and glance in the mirror, I'm surprised but not startled to see Max in the reflection.
"Hey," I say, giving him a weak smile in the mirror as he steps behind me.
"You sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, just a bit of a headache."
"Why don't you let me help you relax?" he asks ever so sweetly while running his hands up my back and giving me goosebumps. His hands gently squeeze my shoulders and knead my neck. It feels so good, and the tension just starts to melt away. Isn't this just so symbolic. I instinctively tilt my head back and rest it on his shoulder, which makes it difficult for him to continue his massage. Max wraps his arms around my middle and pulls me back against him, softly kissing my neck.
"Do you want to go to bed, Max?"
"I always want to go to bed with you."
I spin around, still in his arms, until I'm facing him properly. I place my arms on his shoulders and lock my fingers behind his neck. "Let's go to bed."
I push away from the sink in the bathroom and start heading for my bedroom, but Max and I never change our body positions, so he walks backward the entire way. My hands never leave his neck, and his hands never leave my sides. Once we cross the threshold into my bedroom, I'm driven into action and I start kissing him and taking off his shirt.
Max lets me assume control of the situation, and he doesn't try to take over like he usually would. Even though I'm pretty sure it's killing him that I'm oh so slowly taking my time as I kiss down his chest and past his stomach before I unfasten his pants to continue my southward trek. Max pitches in at the right moments, pulling my shirt over my head and fondling my breasts, tracing the curves of my body with lingering hands, and then nipping and sucking on my bottom lip as I move back up his body, fumble with the rest of my clothing, straddle him and guide his hard erection inside of me.
There's a dynamic change taking place, and I can't describe it. It's not necessarily that Max is relinquishing control or that I'm taking over. It's not about control or one-upping him or paying him back; I just feel like everything's evening out. He doesn't have to prove his love, and I don't feel like I need constant reassurance of it. Because I know it within my core. I finally feel like I'm allowed to be doing this, like I belong or deserve to be here, doing this with this man. Validated. Permitted.
Afterward, Max falls asleep and I just kind of stare at him while he rests. He found out my one last secret, the one I always tried so hard to keep from everyone: my deeply seated sense of insecurity, self-doubt, unworthiness. Never being good enough, always seeking attention and approval.... I still don't feel good enough. But I want to be good enough for him. I want to be the woman he needs, and I'm going to try to be that. He's going to inspire me to be better. He is inspiring me.
Calm. There's a feeling of calmness when we wake up in the morning. Like the gray clouds overhead have blown over or dissipated. The storm has passed. It's like during a thunderstorm, when the air is charged with electricity, but now that's gone. Better yet, I compare it to the feeling you get after a really sound, deep sleep. Totally relaxed, not yet fully awake, knowing that it's going to be a good day. Of course it is; every day is the best day of my life.
I'm not the type of guy to sit back and let things happen to me. My life is not subjected to other people's whims or fancies, so last night was a change of pace. Not that I'm complaining. Different isn't always a bad thing. In fact, in this case, I'd say it was a very good thing. Last night, or maybe just yesterday, effected a shift to a more comfortable state. I don't have any evidence to back that up, just that I can feel it somehow.
I drop Charlotte off at work and then drive home, which is our usual routine when I spend the night during the week. Before I crawl into my own bed to catch another hour or so of sleep, I take the ring out of my pocket and stash it in my closet. I still want to give it to her, and someday I will. But now is not the right time, so there's no sense in carrying it around with me.
Charlotte needs to understand that I'm going to be there for her forever. I'm not going anywhere, and I want her to be fully cognizant of that before she accepts that ring. Before I offer it. I don't want her to think that I'm proposing in order to convince her that I'm going to hang around for a long while to come.
When I pop the question, I want her to appreciate the declaration of love for what it is, and not because I'm trying to be persuasive. Otherwise, it won't carry the same meaning.
The atmosphere around us settles as the next few days progress. Her mother flies back to Chicago, all her attempts to get Charlotte to visit a conscious John unsuccessful. I can see how it wears on her, that she can't please her mother, but it's about doing what's right for herself before anyone else. She confesses to me that it makes her feel like a disappointment that she's not the daughter her mother wants or expects, even if she knows the demands on her are unfulfillable. Instead of telling Charlotte that her mother is unreasonable, because my two cents add nothing to help the situation, I just listen when she needs to vent.
At some point, John is transported to Toronto. There's no marked difference in our lives with his departure, though, because he doesn't matter. He's no influence on us anymore. There are no more ghosts and no more skeletons; everything's out in the open and there's nowhere or nothing to hide. It's a good feeling.
Over the course of the next several weeks, I do my best to reinforce everything I promised her. We talk everyday, and each time I'm sure to tell her how much I love her. At first, she's uneasy about it. "If you say it everyday, Max, then it loses its meaning. It becomes common and repetitive, and it doesn't carry the same weight. You should only say you love me when you really mean it."
"Then I'd be saying it every second of my life," I tell her, and she rolls her eyes but kisses me anyway.
"You're too much. You know that?"
"Eh. I prefer to think I'm just enough."
As December flies by, the ring box continues to collect dust in my closet. I haven't forgotten about it; I'm just waiting for a sign to know the timing's right. After all, I know that it's soon. I don't think it's too soon, though. After all, I don't want to freak her out. It's been months since that first kiss, but I can't forget the expression on her face when she pulled away. I go after what I want, and although I'm pretty sure Charlotte wants it, too, I need to make sure she's ready.
All I have to do is wait until I know she's ready; I'm not sure how I'm supposed to know that. I think I've proven that I can be patient... I just wish that I knew how to know the time's right.