When we entered the bedroom, I anxiously wondered if it would break the spell. Maybe being back in this room would remind Samuel what happened, what I did to him.
But he just kept kissing me, almost aggressively, and I wanted him to never stop.
He pushed me down on the bed, slowly, his eyes searching my face. I recognised that look, knew he was worrying about being too much for me, too intense. But I wrapped my legs around him and pulled him closer, begged him to let himself go, to stop holding back on me.
He groaned and threw me onto the middle of the bed, pinning me down with his body.
Samuel had been right about me all along. I had been keeping him at arm’s length because I hadn’t loved him and he had felt it, known me better than I knew myself. It made sense, now, that he had been so restrained around me, that our marriage had felt so fragile.
But now the restraints were off and we both threw ourselves into whatever this was with wild abandon, barely managing to keep quiet so we wouldn’t wake up the girls.
That night we slept in each other’s arms and nothing had ever felt so right.
The next morning, Samuel left before the girls woke up. I could feel myself starting to worry. What if this changed everything? Or worse – what if it didn’t? But he smiled reassuringly.
“See you tonight. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Then he kissed me goodbye and it felt like a promise.
Samuel spent every night with me for weeks and every morning I was amazed to see him there and slightly afraid of doing something that would make him disappear again.
This morning I woke up to him smiling at me, but he made no move to get up and head to the hospital.
“Good morning. I took the day off.”
“You can do that?”
“Don’t sass me, woman! We need to talk.”
“Sorry. You’re right.”
“I’ve been thinking about where we go from here. I mean, we should probably decide what we’re doing and what’s going to happen next. What we even are now. Because I can tell you’re scared, and honestly, so am I.”
“Of course I am. Freya, I love you. I’ve loved you for half my life. But you hurt me more than anyone else ever could. Divorcing you was the hardest thing I’ve done but you left me no choice. And now we’re here and I am terrified of giving you back that sort of power over me.”
I was afraid to ask, but I had to.
“Do you… do you want to stop this? Wait and see if you can trust me again? Because I can understand if you need more time. I love you, I really do, but I’m struggling to see how you can ever love me again after what I did.”
“Freya, I don’t get to choose whether I love you. I just do. I always did. You hurt me, yes. It was horrible, and it definitely left a scar. But I didn’t stop loving you. I can’t. I can, however, choose whether to trust you again or not.”
“But how can you simply trust that I’d never cheat on you again?”
He arched an eyebrow.
“Are you planning on cheating on me again?”
“No! No, of course not!”
“Then I guess I’ll just have to trust that.”
“Do you also trust that I love you?”
I almost added ‘this time’, but stopped myself. Samuel just smiled and hugged me to his chest.
“I don’t have to trust that, I can feel it.”
I kissed him, desperately wanting him to understand how serious I was about never hurting him or letting down again.
He kissed me back before reluctantly pulling away.
“Dammit, don’t get me too excited, we need to finish this conversation first. Freya, my love may be unconditional, but my boundaries are not. I am making the choice to trust you, but I need you to promise me that if anything ever changes, if you find that you don’t love me any more or if you want out of this relationship, you will tell me instead of self-destructing and taking me and the girls with you in the fallout.”
“I promise. I’m sorry. And I also promise not to be all resentful and passive-aggressive and shit.”
“Good. And I promise not to be condescending and belittle your feelings just because I disagree or don’t understand them. Because I wasn’t handling you very well either.”
“Samuel, you shouldn’t have to ‘handle’ me at all.”
“Well, whatever you want to call it, I should still be more mindful of what you need instead of just assuming I know better. At least if we want to give this another try.”
“I do. Do you?”
“Yeah, I do.”
The next summer, Jessica and her fiancé Nicolas were getting married, and they had invited us to their destination wedding in Sulani. Griffin and Daria were coming too, even though their daughter Myra was only a few months old.
We had all landed in Sulani in the evening and found our bungalows. Now we were unpacking and getting ready for bed.
“Do you need to call your dad, check in on the girls?”
“No. This vacation is for adults only. If there was a problem, he would call us.”
“I’m really proud of you, Freya. You used to be a mess of anxiety every time the girls left your sight, and now you’re putting them on planes all by themselves.”
“If Daria and Griffin can leave a tiny baby with her relatives for a few days, I can send my kids to Brindleton Bay. I refuse to get all hysterical about these things anymore.”
“Freya, I told you, hysteria is not a thing.”
“I know, I’m just teasing you.”
Samuel lowered his voice and spoke quietly into my ear.
“Actually, do you know how doctors used to treat hysteria in the 19th century?”
I felt his body pressed close to my back, his breath on my shoulder as he kissed it.
“Oh? Then maybe I am feeling a little bit hysterical. I should probably see a doctor about it.”
“Maybe we should finish unpacking first.”
“As you wish, sir.”
Samuel didn’t laugh.
“… Say it again.”
“Say it again.”
“… As you wish, sir.”
Samuel mouthed the word, and I felt how he reached down and adjusted himself slightly behind me.
I finally caught on and turned to him. This was new territory.
“What seems to be the problem, sir?”
“You are. You have always been my biggest fucking problem, woman.”
“Oh, I am a problem, am I?”
He sat down on the bed, but before he could react, I quickly kneeled between his legs while I undid his belt.
I looked up at him as I took him into my mouth, enjoying the look of surprise on his face. It didn’t take long before his breathing became erratic.
“Freya… You have to stop, I’m so close.”
I briefly let go of him.
“Is that an order, sir?”
His only reply was a sharp intake of breath as I continued.
A few minutes later, we were lying on the bed together, suitcases still not unpacked.
“Definitely a vacation for adults only.”
I hadn’t met Nicolas in person before this trip, but from all the things Jessica had told me, they seemed perfect for each other.
Jessica was gorgeous, dressed in one of her own designs, and the way Nicolas looked at her made me tear up.
I was so happy for her, for them, and thankful that I got to see my best friend this happy, that our long friendship had survived the harsh truths I needed to hear.
The reception was full of people, many of them friends or relatives of Nicolas that I didn’t know.
Thankfully, we were seated with Griffin and Daria, and I was happy to catch up. They had been busy for the least few months since their daughter was born, and I was still impressed that they had decided to come.
“I wish I’d been as chill about becoming a mother as Daria is.”
“Daria and Griffin are just special like that, Freya. Nothing seems to trouble them.”
“That’s not entirely true. Daria told me that Griffin is really struggling at work lately. Apparently his new boss is horrible and his colleagues are quitting left and right.”
“Really? I should talk to him about it, we could always use a good surgeon in Copperdale if they’re willing to relocate. And I’d love having our friends closer for purely selfish reasons.”
“It would be nice. And maybe you can ask Daria for some tips.”
“Tips? For what?”
“Your newly discovered tendencies… sir.”
“Woman, you are going to be the death of me.”
We had decided to stay in Sulani for almost a week after the wedding to make it a proper vacation. We had never really had the chance to travel together before and we wanted to make the most of it.
The days flew by, and I felt closer to Samuel than ever as we spent every moment enjoying each other’s company.
I thought about last summer, how far we’d come since Hailey started school. And now Samuel and I were back together and Ivy was about to start school as well. It almost felt unreal.
We took a long walk on the last afternoon of the trip. The Sulani sunsets were truly gorgeous. The islands became bathed in an orange glow as the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountains.
Samuel put an arm around me and looked at the horizon thoughtfully.
Tomorrow we would be flying back to Copperdale, back to our jobs, our house, our daughters. I wondered what the future would look like as the waves gently lapped at our feet.
“You’re very quiet, Freya. What are you thinking about?”
“Going home. You?”
He sent me a mischievous smile.
“I’m thinking I want us to get married again.”
“Samuel… was that another accidental proposal?”
He laughed and picked me up.
“No, it was very much intentional this time. But you didn’t answer.”
“Yes, of course!”
“Great, follow-up question – how do you feel about another baby?”
“Samuel, you’re crazy. I love you, but you’re crazy.”
“I am. Crazy enough to marry you twice.”