As long as you keep one foot in the real world while the other foot’s in a fairy tale, that fairy tale is going to seem kind of attainable.
By the time Blakely had grown into a spunky toddler, many things were different at the Johansson household.
Sven continued to live with his parents at their large home on the outskirts of Windenburg, Hannah lived with Blakely at the home they used to share in Brindleton Bay and still ran her restaurant, and both still co-parented harmoniously.
But they were no longer a couple.
Not for lack of trying to find their way back to each other, it just didn’t want to work out, so rather than continue fooling themselves, while clinging to false hope, Hannah insisted on a divorce. Ripping off the Band Aid, as she called it. Sven wasn’t fully on board but agreed eventually, resigned, tired of rehashing the same reasons against it over and over.
It had been amicable.
Still, there was that lingering feeling of melancholy in the air, a fact both acknowledged but neither ever spoke about. As well as everybody got along, it wasn’t the best hidden secret that Sven still had feelings for Hannah and that Hannah was not all the way over him. What had fallen by the wayside was the trust and without that, the relationship had been doomed, only leading to frustration and tears.
For a while after their night of passion Hannah had tried to give Sven another chance but every time she saw him as much as speaking with an unknown female, her emotions ran haywire which wasn’t the best basis considering he was a personal trainer at a popular gym. This lack of ability to fully trust continued to lead to discord between them and often even to fights, when Sven felt unfairly accused.
That had gotten better after Hannah gave up trying and called it quits. She even joined the gym where Sven worked now, she had been to lunch or coffee with him and together with their daughter Blakely they went to playgrounds or for walks in the park.
Sven was still invited to family events.
In fact, he was around so much, that Blakely never once flagged her daddy moving out. Too young to know the difference, this became the new normal for her.
And then – just like that – Hannah had a new man in her life.
Sven wasn’t crazy about the fact, but pleased to see Hannah smile and so happy again. Unlike Hannah, Sven had never given up hope, only bent to her wishes. They were still constants in each others lives, Hannah would come to dinners at his parents home with Blakely, same was true for Sven and Hannah’s parents. Sven would still be invited to events by Eric and Ewan – but now so would Dylan. He even had stayed to watch football games at Hannah’s home with her new boyfriend, who just happened to like the same teams as him.
Where did Dylan come from all of a sudden, you wonder?
Well, it wasn’t all that sudden.
Hannah had met Dylan when he and some intoxicated friends got a little rambunctious after they landed at Brindleton Bay harbor, hungry from a boating trip, and ended up at her restaurant. When one of them tried to get a little too friendly with one of Hannah’s waitresses, Hannah put them in their place. Dylan was the designated driver and hence sober, apologized and got his friends to behave.
The next day he showed up at the restaurant with a single white rose, more apologies and lots of charm for Hannah – and a dinner invitation.
She blew him of a few times, but he was nothing if not persistent. When she finally agreed she realized how nice dating was. The rest, as they say, is history. They spent more time together, and when Hannah finally introduced him to Blakely and the little girl took to him right away, Hannah let her guard down and began to fall for him. Their budding relationship progressed slowly from there.
She tread lightly around carefully telling Sven about Dylan. Sven had expected this to happen sooner or later, her finding a new man, so it wasn’t the biggest surprise to him, but it still wasn’t the most pleasant experience when Hannah introduced them eventually. Sven forced the smile while the rug was pulled out from underneath him and the man he knew would one day appear suddenly had a face and a name. Judging by Dylan’s stiff demeanor, he too wasn’t too keen on meeting her ex, but they managed to get along eventually.
All that had been months in the past by now. It had taken several months until Hannah officially acknowledged Dylan as her boyfriend. Still, Sven and her relationship was great, he had lots of time with their daughter and at least the new man in Hannah’s life wasn’t a douchebag who’d see red each time he would show up. More than a lot of ex-husbands could claim.
Despite of all of that did Sven dread the day that Dylan would move into the home he once shared with Hannah, and even more so the day he would ask her to marry him. It didn’t take a crystal ball to see that was the most likely progression somewhere in their future, even if not anytime soon. But Hannah was a romantic at heart and Dylan was crazy about her.
Sven could have started dating, he thought about it many times, but the truth was that after all the flirting and bad choices had cost him, he was just not in the market. What he had really wanted was another chance with Hannah. And if he was perfectly honest, until Hannah had another man’s ring on her finger, if that really were to come about, he would not give up waiting and hoping.
At the same time at Ewan and Ava’s home things were a lot more hectic. She had given birth to a baby girl in the meantime, whom they named Courtney Elise Cameron.
Ewan was just like his father and his father before him, a family man through and through and just like them he had sown his wild oats before Ava, ever since they got together, he had not the slightest bit of interest in other women and lived to play husband and father whenever home. Once Courtney was old enough to safely travel, Ava, Gavin and her accompanied Ewan again on his many trips to filming locations, promo tours, interviews and all that. He was already dreaming of the next child, but Ava knew how to put a damper on her husband’s planning.
At Eric and Charlee’s home things were a comfortable rut, which may not be everybody’s idea of perfection, but it was theirs. Both lived for each other and to be parents to their son, their relationship was still every bit the quiet love and passion it had always been.
Just like they had always said, no further kids, and with Jamie now closer to attending school and far away from diapers, Eric had taken the final step to ascertain there wouldn’t be any consecutive children, just like his father and grandpa before him, by means of elective surgery.
Their little family was enough for them, both fully and wholly dedicated to raising a happy, healthy son.
Then one Sunday morning at Cameron Memorial Park a couple like many others, yet very much unlike most, sat on a bench, watching a little girl play on the playground nearby. Hannah, Sven and Blakely.
“So, have you considered putting yourself out there to see if you can find someone new?” Hannah asked.
“Yeah, I may … eventually. Look, I am thirty six now, slowly but surely closing in on forty, and know time is not really on my side at that age. Yet, I am just not really ready to start all over from scratch. The needing more time thing. You should understand that.”
“I do. Just really want to see you happy again.”
Sven didn’t reply, but the look he gave Hannah said it all.
“Sven, don’t do this.”
“Do what? Look at you?”
“Look at me like THAT. We tried. You know we did. It just didn’t work anymore. Neither one of us wanted this, but it is what it is and that’s that.”
“Okay?” Hannah frowned while shaking her head at Sven.
“Hannah, what do you want me to say? I am living each day a reminder of my shortcomings and bad choices. But none of that changes how I really feel. I get it, you no longer feel the same cos you cannot get over the past, but I do. Finding me some arm candy slash bed warmer won’t make a difference.”
“Wow, brutally honest much? We have talked this to death, yet you still make it sound like I just woke up one morning and decided to dump you. You know very well it was nothing like that. Something broke inside, and us just ignoring that would have been a lie.”
“Maybe you just needed more time.”
“Maybe. Or maybe we both needed to move on. I think this isn’t anything to complain about. How many ex-wives go out to the park with their ex-husbands for no other reason than they both wanted to? We are still friends, all because we stopped the bleeding before it turned into gangrene. I think that is something to be proud of.”
“It is, what worries me is that you seem to think your Mr. Lover-Lover will still be all right with all of this once you get more serious.”
“We are plenty serious, Sven, and he better be all right with it, cos I made it very clear to him that you and your family are important to Blakely and to me.”
“Keep telling yourself that. All I know is that I would not like it, if you still were my girl, I’d do and say anything to put a stop to it at this stage, but definitely once you became my fiancee or wife. Just you wait. It’ll come up. Then this will all go away and we’ll be like all the other divorced parents.”
Shaking her head, Hannah rose up to tend to their daughter for a moment, Sven got up too, they ended up facing each other.
“Sven, I promise you this: we are friends. We will always be friends. Nobody will forbid me that, not now, not ever and not Dylan. He wouldn’t do that, but if he did, my answer would be very clear.”
“Are you willing to bet on that?” Sven challenged.
“Bet on that? That’s just stupid.”
“No, just find it very immature. I do not need to bet on my relationships or friendships. But you know what? If this will help to make you feel better and have a little more faith in it all, sure, you are on. Don’t ask me why, but I am feeling kinda immature today as well. So, in the off-chance you were to win – which you won’t – but hypothetically if you did, what do you want?” Hannah asked.
“Anything?” Sven smirked.
“And here it comes. Sure, since it won’t happen anyway, wish away. The entire world at your feet, unicorns, a Ferrari, beach side mansion, … anything.”
“I got something much better: A night with you. As lovers, no restrictions. Just like before.” Sven told her.
“My God, Sven! I should have known something ridiculous and sexual would come out of that one! This is dumber than dumb! Ridiculous, childish, immature, probably even misogynistic. But you know what? I’ll play, that is how confident I am about Dylan. He is a good man, Sven. Solid and confident. He trusts me because he knows I would never give him a reason not to. So fine. You got it. We’re on. Won’t happen, but we’re on.”
“Really? Okay, so what do you want in the off chance I am wrong and you are really right?” he asked.
“I want … hmm … I want … oh, I know! I want you to date again. Seriously, not some half-ass job. Your bet won’t be fulfilled until you found a nice girl and actually introduced her to your parents as your girlfriend.” Hannah seemed satisfied with her choice.
“That is a terrible bet, Hannah!” Sven was not.
“And betting on nookie with your ex-wife isn’t?”
“Desperate times … we are shitty at this.”
“Well, since I am going to be the one winning anyway, no worries.”
“Such a dreamer.” Hannah smiled.