Bad choices make good stories.
Not all love stories can weather every storm. Hannah and Sven’s was on the verge of proving that somber truth. Blakely had been born at the end of Summer, by the time the first leaves began to change Sven had moved out of their home, but remained a very involved parent.
Neither of them had been able to take the final step yet, but they had not managed to go back from something resembling distant roommates to a couple. The official stance was that they were taking a time-out from each other. In reality it was merely procrastinating the fact that the split most likely would become permanent, ultimately ending in divorce.
At some point Hannah had decided to join a gym, well aware of the irony of it all.
She needed to get out, walls were closing in on her, maybe getting into shape would get her spirits up, and could be helpful in case that she wanted to start dating again one day – after the inevitable divorce was but a sad memory.
She dropped her baby off with her parents and drove all the way to Oasis Springs, which made it unlikely she’d run into anyone she knew.
Or so you’d think, if it weren’t’ for a pesky thing called chance encounters.
On her way back from the bathrooms she crashed into a tall guy, all she could feel was shock, surprise and rock-hard muscles. When she looked up to apologize, their eyes met and her heart beat a hundred miles per hour.
“Sven!” Hannah was absolutely surprised.
“Hannah …” his smile was so sweet, genuine, making her hot and cold and her knees weak.
“Hi.” she mumbled confused.
“Hi.” he smiled wider, seemingly lost staring at her, still holding on to her, so she pulled away and got some space in between them. She needed that to kick her brain back into gear.
“I am here to work out.” Hannah stuttered something stupid. Evidently the brain needed more time. Or space. She took another step back.
“So am I, and because I get paid to be.” Sven chuckled.
“Oh. OH! Oh, wow .. I didn’t realize … you worked here … so far from Windenburg.”
“I just started my new job here last week, we haven’t seen each other since, so I couldn’t tell you. No worries, this place is kosher, they actually have a pretty strict sexual harassment policy. And if not, I’d walk out on the spot. That lesson was received.”
“Oh good! I mean, not good as in … I mean … not like I … uh …”
“You look ravishing, Hannah. How is it possible for you to be even more beautiful every time I see you?” he muttered with a faraway look in his eyes.
“Ahem – thanks. You look … uh … great as always. I mean, you look, healthy, fit and … uh …”
“Would you like a free session with a personal trainer? It’s included in your membership package.” Sven offered.
“No thanks, I haven’t signed up yet. Just a free trial.” Hannah told him.
“I’d still be more than happy to give you a few pointers. You know, like we used to do. At home. Remember how I used to chase you on the elliptical?” Sven smirked like a little boy.
“Right. How could I forget. I was so sore the next day or I would’ve strangled you. Still, I am okay working out on my own. Just wanted to see what this place is like. I really didn’t know you worked here.”
“I missed you.” she heard him say.
Their interactions with each other since he moved out had been the bare minimum, practically handing over their daughter, exchanging a few platitudes. This was probably the longest they had spoken to each other since Sven had left.
“Sorry to be so forward, but would you mind terribly giving me a lift? My car’s in the shop and my shift actually ended half an hour ago, but I stayed so I could shamelessly stalk you.” he smiled.
“Oh. Yeah, sure, I can take you home, no problem.” Hannah agreed.
“Still drive your candy colored tuna can?” Sven winked.
“I am sorry, did you just say you wanted to walk home?” Hannah smiled.
“I said I always loved your car.” he chuckled, she chimed in. This may well have been the first truly pleasant exchange they had since the incident.
“That’s what I thought. Let me go shower and change. Won’t take long.” Hannah told him.
They met downstairs, both showered and dressed in street clothing now. Hannah drove him to his parents’ house on the outskirts of Windenburg. By now she could drive this route blindfolded. While she always liked his parents, she had never driven to their house as much as since Sven moved here, if only to drop off the baby.
“My parents were going go to the opera. You know me, I have no mind for anything cultural and no clue how long that would take but they probably won’t be home for a while. Do you want to come inside for a coffee or something so you can update me on our amazing daughter – and maybe talk about what is new with you?” Sven offered.
“I don’t know …” in a reflex Hannah had turned her car off and gotten out, as if she had Blakely in the car seat and had to take her out to hand her over. Now she stood there, unsure.
“Please – come on. I don’t bite.” Sven just took her hand and pulled gently, Hannah followed.
“Sure, why not? I needed to use the restroom anyway.” Hannah told him casually.
Hannah followed Sven inside, looking around. She had been to his parents’ home many times, still got along well with them, but not been inside since the split. Just didn’t feel right. Whenever she dropped of Blakely, she met one of them at the door.
“Nothing’s changed.” Sven said taking her hands in his, playing with them. She let him.
“Nothing?” she asked, with the same simplicity, implying so much more.
“Not about his house.” There was a sense of deeper meaning in his words.
“What about its residents?”
“Mom and dad are as set in their ways and predictable as always.” Sven enjoyed the cat and mouse game.
“How about their son?”
“He is about to put all he’s got on one card. Wish him luck.”
Sven pulled Hannah close and kissed her.
She didn’t pull away or fight him, quite the contrary, she returned his kiss and let out a little moan when he let go.
“Didn’t you need to use the restroom?” Sven asked breathlessly when they separated, both shocked at the sudden surge of passion.
“I lied. I wanted some more time with you. Go ahead and judge away.” Hannah admitted.
“I’d love to, but my car’s not in the shop. Still sitting in the parking lot at the gym where I drove it to this morning. Same reason as you.”
Hannah lunged forward, kissing him again, pushing up against him, hard and longing to the point that he picked her up and ran up the stairs with her.
She didn’t question it. Maybe it was the adrenaline from her workout, maybe the thrill of the forbidden fruit, of the comfort of familiarity instead of the constant loneliness now, but she wanted this to happen, now, no holds barred.
Slamming the door to his room shut, while Hannah was nearly tearing off his shirt while he was fighting with her buttons until she wiggled out of her clothing and both fell onto his bed.
They made love and it felt like the first time, intense, new, yet so familiar. Like water to a man lost in the desert, both greedily enjoyed each other.
In the middle of a rest up, his head in her lap, her gently caressing him silence had fallen again, but this time a comfortable one.
It was sometime after round three they heard noises, then footsteps in the hallway. Both of them froze in mid-movement.
“Uh oh. That would be my parents!” Sven whispered.
“Yikes. That was not planned.” Hannah whispered back. The mood had definitely passed now, given way to a much more sober realization what all had transpired when it shouldn’t have.
“So, are you staying for dinner then?” Sven asked, watching her frown, before she started picking up her clothes, scattered across his floor.
“Of course not! This was never supposed to happen in the first place, let alone become public knowledge. I think it would be better if I do a quick walk of shame out of here, maybe you could distract your parents until after I am gone?”
“Sure.” Sven looked disappointed, but didn’t argue.
Even later that day in her own bed, Hannah couldn’t stop thinking about it.
What the hell was that?
Was she completely insane now?!
And was this just a one off or did this mean they were going to get back together? But would she really want that? Did he? Should they? She had been confused about their situation before, this had not helped one bit.
By the next morning – after a mostly sleepless night – Hannah had decided that she was not ready to jump back in with both feet. Maybe one day, or maybe not, but she was not going to let one night of loss of all inhibitions and sanity cloud her good judgement. At least not twice in a row.
A knock on the door, Hannah was only a little surprised to see Sven, but when he seemed to want to kiss her, she turned away. He didn’t push for it, even though the disappointment was once more written all over his face.
“What are you doing here? Today is not your day with her.”
“Why didn’t you at least call first, like you always do?” Hannah complained.
“Didn’t know that was mandatory. This is still technically my home too and after last night …”
“Let me stop you right there! Last night changed nothing, other than we both were horny and available and … familiar. So let’s not have that cloud any and all sound judgment and make it something it’s not. And by all means, don’t tell a soul about it.”
“Hannah, my parents already know.”
“What?! Why did you have to tell them?”
“I didn’t! They recognized your car parked in front of our house in the middle of the day and we were both in my room and no Blakely anywhere. My parents are no idiots like their son.”
“Oh dammit. What did you say to them?”
“Nothing. Mom just asked me at dinner why you didn’t stay and how you were doing. I said fine and she dropped it.”
“Well, I always liked your parents but I don’t think happy family dinners together is in our immediate future. And next time you come over, please call first, so I can be ready. I am just not dressed and all.”
“Hannah, I am still your husband. I have seen you in all states of dress and undress, including naked, just yesterday actually, and I have seen you without makeup before. You are beautiful to me no matter what you have on or not.”
“Sven … please. Just don’t. Coffee?”
“Yes please. Is Blakely awake yet?”
“Oh yeah. Go, see your daughter, I’ll bring you coffee – unless you take it differently now than you used to.”
“Nothing has changed, Hannah. It’s only been months, not years. I am still the same, maybe a lot more mature, but I still feel the same and still like the same things.”
Hannah prepared his coffee, then found him in the nursery, watched him hold their daughter, cooing at her, which made the baby giggle and squeal for joy, and made Hannah want to cry. This scene was so innocent, so perfect, so beautiful to her. It was the epitome of what she had always wanted. Why was everything so messed up? Why couldn’t she have her perfect little family?
She placed the coffee down and left the room, to get away from the instant heartbreak. Sven came downstairs.
“I fed her, changed her and she is out cold. That baby can snore like an old man.” he told her smiling.
“Sven – I know what you probably expect now, but I just can’t. I need more time. I am sorry, I never meant to lead you on.”
“Okay. I will wait. I can give you time, just please, don’t let me wait in vain. I am ready to prove to you that I have learned my lesson, and that I finally am the husband and father you and Blakely deserve. All I need is to get one more chance to show you and for you to know that what I said is true, I love you Hannah and only you. And our little girl.”
“Sven, what happened yesterday should have never happened. I understand that it probably instilled you with false hope, but I swear I didn’t mean to lead you on. It just proves that I don’t always make the best decisions either.”
“Is there a chance for us?” Sven seemed to nearly ignore Hannah’s words.
“Sven, I do not know. I really don’t know!”
“Just tell me it’s not a no. Give me something to keep fighting for.”
“I think I gave you more than just something yesterday. Fine. It is definitely not a no, but not a yes either. Because I just can’t.”
“Fair enough. So, am I going to see you again at the gym?”
“Oh – that …. I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Hannah, please, give me something to hold on to. I still love you, probably more now than ever.” Demonstratively, Sven took her hand and placed it over his heart.
“I told you I need time. Apparently I am not all the way over you, judging by what happened.”
“Say you love me, only once. Please. And if you can’t do that, at least tell me you’ll wait for me and will give me one more chance. I only have a few weeks left with school and then I am back permanently. Please Hannah … you do not understand how hard it is for me, so far away from you, from our baby, unsure I will even be allowed to ever come back home, I need to know this means something.”
“Sven, why are you making this even more difficult. I cannot tell you that I love you, because I do not know right now. Last night didn’t magically change that. That does not mean that I don’t, it means that my heart is so confused after everything, that I really, honestly do NOT know. It’s not just torture for you, for me too, I want to know the answer myself. I cannot move on and I cannot go back. I am stuck right now. What happened last night, I don’t regret it, it felt great and like it always had, but it is not a big eraser that wipes out everything. I would never keep you from Blakely, you are her daddy, you are a great daddy and you will always be welcome here. After you call, of course.”