5-32) What Could Have Been

Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
~ Andy Rooney

Ethan threw rocks at Grace’s dark window, but no lights were turned on.
She had to be home.
It was almost 9 PM, her grandmother usually would have gone to bed by now.

Suddenly he heard laughter and one of the voices sounded like Grace’s. Trying to locate the direction the sound originated from, Ethan soon realized it came from the house next door.

Carefully he followed the sound, the volume level increased the closer he got, even though the people creating it were obviously trying to be quiet. Aside from Grace’s voice there was at least one more.
A masculine one.

In his curiosity Ethan walked towards the source, around the other home into the backyard next door. When he peeked around the corner, he saw Grace.

And she was not alone.
She was with a man, presumably the owner of the property Ethan had wandered onto.
Right at this moment that man leaned in and kissed her.

Frozen with shock, while staring in disbelief that quickly turned to anger as Ethan balled his fists, then yelled.
The kiss ended abruptly, both Grace and that man stared at him as Ethan walked in closer as if to assure it wouldn’t happen again.

“Who are you?!” the other man barked at Ethan, looking somewhere between startled and very upset.
“Ethan?” Grace sounded very surprised.

“You know him, Grace?” the other man inquired.
“Yeah, he is my … boss …” Grace explained to the other man.
“Why is your boss in my backyard?” he retorted.

“Yes, Ethan, why are you here at this hour? Where is Blake?” Grace wanted to know.
“Who’s Blake?” asked the other man.
“My son.” Ethan answered now.
“You are trespassing, buddy!” the other man growled.

“Not your buddy. Grace what are you doing here with – him!?”
“That is none of your business, Ethan.” Grace’s tone sounded warning.
“Mind telling me why you are on my property without being invited?”
“Grace, a word?!” Ethan’s tone was pressing.

Without waiting for her response, Ethan just pulled her along.

“Hey, you!” the man protested.
“It’s okay, Alex, let me talk to him for a moment.” Grace called back to the man, who was watching from a distance, less than amused.
“Grace, why are you at this dude’s house? Why is he kissing on you?”
“I have no idea since when I owe you an explanation.”
“Grace, I need you .. I  … ”
“Are we doing this again now?” she sighed, obviously annoyed.

“Grace, I need to talk to you and it couldn’t wait.”
“A new conquest or a recycled lover this time?”
“Neither. Grace, this is not what you think. Gawd, this seemed much easier to put into words on the drive over … Grace I … I … you and I, we … all this time .. and then the painting … I saw your smile and it all made sense to me.”
“Ethan, you are not making sense …”
“I am making perfect sense! You and I Grace … I finally realized it … the way you look at me in the painting …”
“What painting?”

“Blythe’s. Oh right, you wouldn’t know about this … but you are smiling and I got this funny feeling …”
“Diarrhea? Nausea?”
“Why is all this so funny to you? Grace, I am dead-serious. I am trying to tell you that I …”
She put her hand on his mouth and shook her head.
“Not like this. I don’t want it like this. For so long I stood back, taking the scraps of your attention. No more. If this is what I think it is, you need to stop. Alex and I are seeing each other and I need you to understand that. I am sorry, Ethan. Just too little, too late. I need to get back to Alex now and you should get home to Blake.”

She turned and walked off, back to that – guy.


“So how did it go?” Blythe asked as Ethan dragged back into his home.

“Where’s Blake?”
“Asleep, of course.”

“I was too late.”
“Oh no … she is probably just making you work for it.”

“She has a boyfriend! She was at his house! Sucking each other’s faces!!”
“Oh, yikes! Ethan, I don’t know what to say … I am sorry. I didn’t know. She never said anything. Do you want me to take down the painting?”

“Want me to go?”
“It’s late. You can stay if you like. I’ll let you have my bed, I’ll sleep in Blake’s room.”
“Sounds uncomfortable. You keep your bed, I’ll take the couch.”

“I am not going to let any guest of mine, especially not a lady, sleep on the couch. You take the bed, I take the couch.”
“You are such a gentleman.”

Ethan let out a grunt.
“Yeah, working really well for me, too.”

“Come on now, don’t let that little setback discourage you. So she has been shopping around while you were doing … whatever you were doing. It may not even be really serious. But – we should both get to bed. You may be the boss and have a get out of jail free card, but I am not so lucky. On that note, is it rude to ask to borrow something for me to sleep in? And maybe even a toothbrush?”

“I’ll get you set up.”

Not 30 minutes later, both had turned in.


The next morning Ethan made breakfast for the three of them, when someone came to the door. Ethan opened, carrying Blake, thinking it may be his dad, who sometimes picked his grandson up, rather than have Ethan drop him off on his way to work.
But it wasn’t KC.

“Got a second?”
“Uh, sure …”

“Ethan, I have been thinking …” she interrupted, for one as she was fighting to find the right words, but then – as it always happens – Blythe came down the stairs and into view, wearing nothing but Ethan’s shirt.

That development clearly took the wind out of Grace’s sails.

She said nothing, just tore open the door and hurried out.
“Grace, wait, this is not what it looks like.”
“Really Ethan? If you were aiming for cliche you nailed it!” she called back without even turning around.

Grace reached her car, jumped in then drove off, before Ethan could do much about it, especially while holding his child.

“Fuck!” Ethan cursed, which was a great mistake.
“Phuck phuck phuck ..” Blake parroted.

“Oh no! No no no! Don’t say that. Daddy said .. umm …. Chuck. Daddy saw a man over there, his name is Chuck! That’s what daddy said. Chuck. Can you say Chuck, Blake?”

“Chhhhh .. phuck!”
“I am going to hang myself!”


Ethan walked into work, to find Grace at her desk.
“Good morning. Again. You had a call from …”

“Grace, can we PLEASE talk?”
“Ethan, can we PLEASE keep work and play separate?”

“Can we speak in my office for just a minute?”

Resigned Grace pushed her chair back, rose up and followed Ethan into his office.

Ethan attempted to shut the door, but Grace pulled the handle from him and reopened it, shaking her head.

“Ethan, I know what is about to come. Some explanation how you did not do what you think that I think you and Blythe did. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. I have moved on. I wasn’t looking for someone, but someone found me and after waiting and waiting for something to happen that probably never could, I took the plunge. It is unfortunate that our timing just didn’t work out, and however tempting it may be, I am not going to deny Alex and me a real chance. I hope you can understand and respect that. And me.”

Ethan just swallowed hard, closing his eyes, then nodded.
“How long have you and …. this Alex …. ?”

“Oh, a few weeks now, but it started very slow, which I like. He knows about grandma, and that I am very limited as far as dating activities go.”

“Have you … and him … have you … spent the night?”

“I really do not think that is any of your business. Especially not all things considered.”

“Grace, Blythe watched Blake last night, when I came to you. It got late .. I couldn’t sent her home all alone and I could hardly leave a three year old home alone to drive her home, nor take him with. So I offered her my bed. I slept on the couch. That is the truth, I swear it.”

“Ethan, you do not owe me any explanations. Truthfully, you and Blythe would make a cute couple, after all she has been through she still trusts you. I also doubt that your crush on her has just fizzled away, and she is very obviously into you. Still.”

“But Grace ….”
“Ethan, I deserve a chance. If Alex and I are not meant to be, then I can at least say I tried. You know how hard it is for me to even find a date, let alone someone who would want to deal with my complex situation. And I am tired of watching happy couples all around me while I am alone all the time.”

With that she left his office, he sat down at his desk, frustrated and pondering.

It turned out to be a surprisingly slow day, giving him lots of time to simmer in dreams of what could have been.

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