The Waiting Game
by Grace

Because she never demanded, he always wanted to give. Because her patience and unasked for compliance was a freewill gift, he wanted to give her a real life – with him.

Instead, he was stuck here in KY with his legal spouse, trying, with great difficulty, to smile when it was appropriate and endure the endless family jokes.When are you going to start that family, Kevin? Need any help?”. Ha. Ha. “I hear what they say about them boy-bands, son. Time you best be thinking about a kid before those rumors get out of control. People are gonna start believing that stuff..Oh brotherOr the most frequent of the questions, “What the hell are you waitin’ for? You’re thirty years old!Like he didn’t know that. He wondered what their reaction would be if he told them that he hadn’t waited and hadn’t needed any help, either; That just over the mountains, lived the woman he loved and a daughter that he adored – and that a second child was just a few months away. That the woman he wed a year and a half ago was not and would never be his wife. He knew it, she knew it, but more importantly, Emily knew it.

This would be fixed one day soon. A Rubik’s Cube of unexpected twists and lousy timing had led him to his current dilemma – a dilemma that he created for himself because of his own impatience and well-fed guilt. For once in his life, he hadn’t known what to do. He knew what he wanted to do, but he had to protect her. It would have gotten ugly. She was far too precious to him to be turned into tabloid fodder and he would kill any son of a bitch that hurt his baby girl, Annie. Annie…. He glanced past the Christmas tree to where his mother stood, tousling Will’s hair and stuffing him with cookies. Even she didn’t know about her namesake, a sweet baby girl – the first after so many boys – who had celebrated her first birthday a few short weeks ago.

His head hurt. It always hurt when he thought about this too much – about how he got here. He wasn’t stupid. Kristin had been yanking his chain for years, Ever since I was a Ninja turtle…, but he had grossly underestimated her ball-busting abilities. She and Emily knew about each other, of course. It was difficult for everyone.

He could feel her eyes on him – always an uncomfortable feeling unless he was too drunk to give a damn. She had seen him staring out of window, plotting his escape, and knew that he was thinking about his ‘other’ Kentucky house. No. His Kentucky home. He was beginning to wonder if his devotion pissed her off or his misery amused her. His family saw what they chose to see – a complicated and professionally overwhelmed man who couldn’t seem to relax enough to enjoy the simple pleasures anymore. Their over analyzing excused them from taking any responsibility for his torment. Perhaps that was unfair. He had done this to himself. It wasn’t their fault. He had just hoped that one of them would see that something was wrong. Look at me! Can’t you see what I’m feeling? Can’t you see that I’m unhappy – that the marriage is a farce? Have I become that good at lying about my life? Yes. He had.

How did this happen? How did he lose control?

A vivid memory flashed through his brain as he raised his glass to lips. If anyone present can show any reason why this man and woman should not be joined…. A tiny crease in his heart had momentarily filled with a sick hope that someone would speak up. No one had. If anyone had, it would have been AJ. Alex was cordial to Kristin but he knew that AJ didn’t much care for her – and hadn’t for years. He had even cried after the ceremony. Was that out of sorrow? Guilt? A hope that the marriage would work? Probably a little of each.

He chuckled to himself as an ice cube slid from the glass and into his mouth. Emily had given him the easy path, knowing full well what he would do and knowing that he would have to do it. She hadn’t told him she was pregnant. He was with her on June 13th and she only told him ‘Goodbye…Even when he called her repeatedly after the wedding, she had never hinted that she was pregnant. He didn’t find out until he sought her out in New York. The memory of discovery had been bittersweet. Professionally, they were beginning their promotion of Black and Blue. Personally, he was empty, frustrated and driven to fill the vacuum in his heart by relentless work. When she opened the door to her apartment and he saw her standing in the threshold….

He closed his eyes for a moment, reliving the emotions, Elation, devastation and guilt had bubbled up from his gut and into his heart and he had only been able to speak the truth to her and plead.for a little time. I love you. I love you….. Please wait for me….

“I’m flying back to LA tomorrow…”

His eyes opened and he looked at her steadily. What did she expect him to say? She knew the score. He had agreed to play the game, but not forever and now the game was about to end. The misery of 2001 was almost over.

“The papers will be delivered to you here on Jan 2…”

He nodded without comment. After the divorce papers were processed, a hefty settlement check would be delivered. That would be the end of it. That would be the end of her, anyway. It had taken a year to dig up all the potential land mines but it had been done. The group was on hiatus. She finally had her career. Now, he would spend the next few days trying to explain all of this to his family. He hadn’t even told Emily yet. Maybe she would accept the ring now.

His eyes followed Kristin to the stairs and then stopped. His jacket hung limply on the hall tree that rested near the banister and he felt a small smile tug at the corners of his mouth. It was time to leave for a while.. He needed to drive over that mountain to be with the woman he had denied for so long and relish the symphony of a single word – Daddy.

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