Weary eyes part with the current page (the one she's been
reading for the past fifteen minutes, but has yet to move past) and glare at the offending object. Green neon numbers flash
2:00 from the digital face of the alarm clock, and somewhere in the back of her mind, she knows that she should've been asleep
Of course, the constant ringing has made it difficult to ponder sleep.
doesn't have to pick up the phone to know that he's calling. Doesn't have to see the screen to realize that the time for apologizing
is not over. Doesn't have to remind herself of the time to justify how exhausted she is.
she is exhausted. Beyond exhausted. She's completely spent.
Her glare dims, and she can't help but think that he's
as spent as she is. The voice of sympathy speaks then from the left corner of her cranium, and she reaches across the covers
for the black box that has yet to be silenced.
Missing her. It's all he ever does anymore. That, and dial her number. The digits
have become part of his fingers now, he's sure of it. Sadly, though the hopelessness of the situation has not escaped him,
he cannot help calling her. The sound of her voice in the answering machine message has become a strange comfort in the early
morning hours when sleeping is but wishful thinking.
He searches for something clever to say,
something witty and charming and loving, something that might entice her to make the leap into his arms again.
Unfortunately, every word that points to decent communication escapes him at the sound of her voice.
isn't your voicemail."
A sigh of exasperation filters across the line, and he mentally slaps himself. Brilliant,
"No. I got sick of listening to the phone ring."
"Then why do you keep
"Because I need to hear your voice." The answers are instinctive. He's no longer thinking, because he can't
remember how. All he knows is that he misses her, loves her, and needs that to be enough to get through to her that they were
meant for each other.
"Funny, because yours is the last thing I want to hear right now."
He flinches. "I'm sorry."
Somewhere in the background, guilt is searching for eloquence.
"No, I'm really sorry. Really, really sorry."
know. You keep telling me."
Guilt is struck dumb as surprise takes over. "You're listening to the messages?"
enters, insult in hand. "No, I'm telepathic."
"But if you're listening to the messages, then why haven't you called?"
I don't want to talk to you!"
He frowns. "You don't want to hear me out?"
"Not at all?"
He chews his lip like a child, hoping for his mother and a kind word all at once. "Why not?"
She shrugs. "I have no
interest in being lied to. I'm tired of playing hide-and-seek with your ego and the thousand women that fawn over you all
the time. Is that reason enough to suffice?"
"But...but I love you."
She begins to chew absentmindedly on a
fingernail, wondering whether she should laugh or cry. "I love you too, but not enough to let you walk all over me like this."
really am sorry."
"But...isn't that enough?"
"Why should it be?"
"Because I love you."
His lip quivers. "Because I need you. You keep me sane."
"Funny, because your presence seems to have the opposite effect
He closes his eyes, trying to shut out the truth that the reunion is not going to be as simple as he'd hoped.
"Sam, don't say that..."
"Because you don't mean that. You can't mean that."
becomes anger with the changing of the numbers on the clock. "Oh, yes, I can."
"But if we love each other, isn't that
"Enough for what?"
"Isn't love bigger than...what happened?"
"Bigger than infidelity?" She laughs
finally, a hollow, bitter sound that pricks the tip of his nose with the presence of unshed tears. "No, not quite. Love doesn't
usually inspire the presence of infidelity."
"I'm sorry. I know I fucked up."
"Yes, so do I. The question is,
do you know WHY you fucked up?"
"Because I miss you! Because it's lonely out here! Because it's not all fun and games.
It's fucking draining on a person to be onstage twenty-four/seven, and I missed the one person in the world who doesn't need
me to put on a face."
"So you went looking for a replacement."
He sighs, defeated already. "I said I knew why,
Sam. I didn't say it made sense. It still doesn't makes sense, and it kills me that I'm going to lose you over this."
voice is cold when she finally speaks. "The man I love wouldn't attempt to replace me."
His tone is pleading, hopeful.
"The woman I love knows how to forgive."
"That's a cheap shot."
He falls back into the pillows, already exhausted.
"Maybe so, Sam, but it's the only shot I've got."
For a moment, both of them are silent, staring at the ceiling and
wondering what brought them here. Finally, Samantha speaks. "Nick..."
He sits up eagerly. "Yes?"
Her pride is
situated at the edge of a cliff, posed for the drop-off, and all she can think is that it needs to be enough. That they need
to be enough, because she's tired of a bitter life without him. "What you did...it hurt, dammit. A lot. I thought we were
better than that. I thought I was worth more to you than that."
His voice breaks as easily as his heart. "Oh, Sam...you
are. You are, and I'm so sorry I made you think you weren't."
She dries the tears because he can't. "How do I know
it's not going to happen again?"
He sighs. "You don't. You don't, but I do, and you're going to have to trust me."
do you know it's not going to happen again?"
His laugh is that of a man so much older than his own twenty-two years.
"You're talking to a man that's loved and lost, Sam. And the losing part hurts. It hurts a lot. Trust me, I don't want to
hurt like this again. I don't want to spend another month thinking I've lost you. I'm not stupid enough to put this in jeopardy
Her voice is quiet with consideration. "You're asking for a second chance."
"No," he says, "not asking.
Begging." He can hear the uncertainty in her voice and he knows he has to fight for her. "Please save me from a lifetime of
dialing your number. Please save yourself from a plethora of angst-ridden messages on your machine..."
And she laughs
against her will. "Dammit, Nick, this is serious!"
Guilt would have sprouted, but she is still laughing, and he knows
they will be all right.
"I know. I am serious. I'll never break your heart again."
Her tears trace a path along
her cheekbone as she smiles benignly. "You should've been an actor."
He smiles, the tender touch of relief on his shoulders.
"No, because then I couldn't sing you to sleep so well."
She sighs at the memory of a thousand nights in his arms.
"Will I what, Sam?"
"Sing me to sleep."
He laughs, and it does not occur to him that his
voice is rough or that it is late or that the performance won't be his best. "Always and forever, baby."
her eyes as he begins a chorus of Bon Jovi's "Thank You For Loving Me", thinking that the song is sadly appropriate because
he sounds pathetic and she looks obsessed, and neither cares at all.