My wedding day—a big moment about to occur—the forever joining of my and Brant’s lives. I search my eyes for trepidation, but find none. I’m not surprised. I can mark the leaving of Lee as clearly as my birth, the change in our relationship greater than I would ever have expected. Looking back, it was as if our relationship began anew that day.
I walk down a short aisle lined with hibiscus, our Hawaii home behind me, Brant and a pastor alone before me, the ocean the background to this moment of our love.
Each step closer is like a page turning in our lives.
Step. The night of Brant’s return from the doctor’s, Lee having finally left our lives. His hands on me the moment we stepped inside, a tumble of us both onto the couch, his hands frantic, needy as they yanked the clothes from my body until I was bare beneath him. He f**ked me as he never had, as Lee used to, as if he was marking me, making me his. He gripped my hair when he thrust into me. Moaned my name when he turned me over and took me from behind. He made me come with his cock, then his fingers, then his mouth, before pounding a rhythm into me that I would never forget. Afterward, he took me to the floor in the center of the great room, a fire before us, our chests heaving with satisfied breaths as he rolled me over and took me a second time, slower. More like the Brant I loved. He whispered his love as he mended every f**k he had just broken me with. Then we slept, our limbs intertwined. And when the sun rose through the windows, he was still there. My Brant. And only my Brant.
Step. His abandonment of Jillian, her removal from the Board of Directors, his new place in the company executive in addition to developmental. He doesn’t work like he used to, the door to his office now open to employees, two assistants keeping his schedule on track in a way that Jillian never could. He’s formed collaborative teams, no longer a solo team of creation. I love seeing him working with others, the awe in the developer’s eyes when they see the scope of his brilliance. We were all worried about the possible loss of intellectual ability, the risk discussed and accepted by Brant. But his therapy, while affecting other pieces of his personality, hasn’t hampered that in any way.
Step. Lee is still there, pieces of him sprinkled through Brant’s personality, sparkling like glitter when it hits the sun. I see it in the smile Brant now carries, a wide grin that squeezes my heart every time it flashes. I see it in the laugh that occasionally bursts, in the cocky wink that I got last week when he stepped from the shower and caught my eyes on his naked body. Sometimes, when he watches me, I swear he is Lee, smiling at me, his eyes staring like he knows a secret I don’t, like that secret is the key to my soul and I am all his to do with as he wants. I thought I would be losing Lee but instead I’ve only gained more sides of Brant.
Step. I see a dart of white and the slip of Hannah’s hand into Brant’s, her face upturned to his as she smiled. Brant’s been joining me on Tuesdays at the HYA compound. He’s grown to love Hannah as much as I do. Tonight, after the ceremony, once her belly is full of cake and toes are white with Hawaiian sand, we’ll ask her. See if she will allow us to have her as part of our family. Brant’s already had the attorney complete the paperwork. All it needs is her blessing and he’ll have them process the adoption. I smile at the two of them, his grin gentle as he pulls his eyes from her and meets mine. There, in the windows to his soul, I see our future. More babies, two or three from our union, maybe more from HYA. Summers in this house, winters back home, giving Windere the family it deserves.
Step. I stop before him and look into his face. Feel my future in his intense stare, in the connection that is now iron strong. We are a team, having jumped hurtles that will make the rest of our life a cakewalk. I have lied for this man, stole for him, cheated on him with him, and sold my soul to his with our first kiss.
I love this man. I repeat, after the pastor, the simple words that interlock our lives, and feel his hand squeeze mine. Leaning forward, I close my eyes and kiss my husband.
I don’t know how I got lucky enough to end up with this woman. For my soul to find her, steal her, convince her of love enough to keep her through the rollercoaster of hell that has been our relationship. She is more than my broken self will ever deserve, but I can never let her go, she owns, whether she knows it or not, all parts of me, every inch of my body and soul. Her unconditional love brought me to life. Pulled me from a dry, lonely existence before saving me, quite literally, from myself.
One day, I will deserve her. One day, I will fully fix myself and prove to her that it has been worth it. I will spend every ounce of effort getting to that day. I am moving closer, slowly tying up the loose ends of my sanity.
We went to the police the night I remembered Sheila’s death. I told them about the man. His tattoos, the location of his house. We drove by and found it, my memory of that day now painfully clear, as if the decades left it untouched and brand new, in a secret corner of my mind. I had hoped for an arrest, but the officer informed me that the man, one Nick Coppen, died six years after Sheila disappeared. That evidence found in his home had implicated him in multiple unsolved cases. I left that station lighter than I had entered it, Lana’s hand tight and strong in mine.
My journey in this relationship hasn’t been as difficult as hers, but there were times I struggled. Thank God I didn’t walk away when I suspected an affair. Thank God my heart kept an iron grip on her and wouldn’t let me move. The frustration, the unknowing, the jealousy… it was grueling, but reinforced one of the first things I said to Lana: ‘It was worth it as soon as I saw you’.
And it was. It was more than worth it. It was the start of my life, the day my heart started beating.
I love this woman. I will always love her, as will every part of my soul.
It is all her fault. I knew she was trouble, should have worked harder, done more, increased Brant’s meds until he broke and scared her away. Had she not appeared, wormed her way into his life, then everything would be fine. Going according to plan. BSX strong, Brant and I leading it into the next millennium. Whores keeping him satisfied, the meds keeping him productive. His other personalities weren’t hurting anyone; they had been keeping to themselves. Life had been good, all due to my hard work and planning. Nothing in life is given; everything is earned or taken. I earned a great deal. Took the pieces I couldn’t earn. And I had reaped the rewards, as had Brant. He would have nothing without me. How could he forget that? How could he let her blind him to that fact?