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I was turning a page of Stephen King when he suddenly appeared in the bedroom doorway; I hadn’t heard the front door open and he had always been very light on his feet for a man. I just about tore the page out of the book, my heart was beating that fast.
He didn’t notice that he’d startled me; he was obviously tired, his eyelids drooping and his tie already undone. “Hey, baby,” he said heavily, dropping his bag with a thud on the floor, and he walked into the bathroom.
“Hey,” I said breathlessly, shutting the book and slumping on the pillows in relief.
I heard him turn on in the sink and splash cool water onto his face. I recognized the ritual.
“Rough day?” I called, sitting up.
“Yeah,” he called back. “Getting everything ready to go. Matthew… was being Matthew,” he laughed humorlessly. He would be reaching for his green toothbrush now, throwing the towel into the corner of the counter and searching for the toothpaste.
I smiled, loving the way I knew his routines. It would be hard when he left tomorrow.
Standing up, I listened to the methodic sound of him brushing his teeth and walked over to stand in the bathroom door. “I’m sorry for his Matthew-ness,” I smiled.
He chuckled around his toothbrush and leaned over to spit. After he’d rinsed, he straightened and gave me that look. “It is your fault he hates me anyway.”
“Not this again,” I groaned, hanging my head back as I walked back into the bedroom.
He followed me and I didn’t need to turn around to know that he was already undressing as he laughed, “I’m just teasing you, honey.”
“And you know how I am with teasing,” I said, throwing his pajama pants to him.
“Yeah, I do,” he said as he pulled the pants on. “That’s why I tease you so much.”
“You’re cruel,” I said tiredly.
“But you love me.”
We both crawled onto the bed, laying on our sides to face each other and pulling the covers up our waists.
“That I do,” I said softly, kissing his forehead.
We lay still for a moment, just staring and thinking. He wouldn’t be here in bed with me for an entire month. The space between us suddenly felt heavier; I was slightly panicked to notice this, but I was too tired to really think about what it meant.
To try to get rid of the dread, I reached for him and started to draw patterns into the skin on his bare shoulder with my fingertips. It wasn’t usually easy to relax him, but tonight, he was instantly lax. As I began to trail my fingers lightly up his neck and over his cheek, he closed his eyes. A little of the heaviness between us left, and I felt relief start to ease my shoulders.
Eventually, I thought he’d fallen asleep, but I continued to trace the invisible designs over his face, occasionally running my hands through his hair gently. The minutes ticked by and I was starting to think about how hard it would be for me to go to sleep without him here. Though we didn’t usually snuggle, we’d always fallen asleep with at least one part of our bodies touching, whether it was our hands or our feet or legs or arms. It was nearly impossible for us to fall asleep without touching, even if we were fighting. I hadn’t slept alone for six months now.
I wondered how many nights I would cry until I got used to sleeping alone again.
Just as I was tracing his hairline for the umpteenth time, he reached up and grabbed my hand, making me jump as his eyes opened.
I laughed soundlessly, and whispered, “You scared me.”
He smiled toothily, said, “Again?” and then just stared at me tenderly while he rubbed a circle into my palm.
I didn’t expect him to say anything, but I stayed silent, waiting. I had a history of destroying perfect moments by trying to make them better, but if I let him take the initiative, beautiful moments like this lasted a lot longer.
He continued to massage my palm and eventually moved in closer to kiss me. Exactly like I knew he would, he had made the moment better.
No matter how I tried though, I couldn’t suppress the yawn that escaped me then.
He chuckled. “Time to sleep.”
I’d done it again; I’d just messed up another special moment with a stupid yawn. “Ok,” I sighed, rolling over to reach for the lamp.
After a moment of shifting into comfortable positions, we lay still again. He’d wrapped his arm around my waist, pressing my back to his chest and tangling his legs with mine.
“Goodnight,” I sighed and intertwined our fingers as I closed my eyes.
“Goodnight,” he said into my hair.
Then after a minute in the darkness, he whispered tiredly, “I don’t think I’m going to go to L.A. anymore.”
“Why not?” I asked. I knew how much this trip meant for his career. It would be a real disappointment if he couldn’t go. “Did something happen with Matthew?”
I felt him shake his head, and said simply, “I’d miss you.”
I smiled ruefully into the dark and brought his hand to my lips before whispering, “I’ll miss you, too.” I knew he’d go. He was too reliable; he wouldn’t pull out now unless Matthew had suddenly thought him ‘unsuitable’ for the job.
Before I knew it, I was asleep.