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Romance

The pitter-patter of rain against Stephanie's bedroom window greeted her when she opened her eyes. As it had every day since they'd arrived in Seattle. Stephanie begrudgingly opened her eyes. The cold grey light dimly lit the bedroom. She couldn't tell what time it was, not that she cared.

It'd been three weeks since Stephanie and her wife had made the move from San Diego. Moving had been a mutual agreement; Stephanie knew there were too many temptations there.

Day after day of overcast and rain was wearing on her. Thunder boomed somewhere off in the distance and Stephanie sighed and turned over, curling herself up in the thick comforter. This weather reminder her of her time stationed at Minot and she hated it. She hated the rain. She hated the cold. And she HATED Seattle.

The bedroom door opened and her wife bounced in. Stephanie rolled back over to look at her wife. Evelyn was tall and lanky, dressed in her running clothes and visibly wet.

"Goodmorning," She greeted with a warm smile, a cup of coffee in her hand. That beaming smile was usually enough to lift her spirits, but not today. Stephanie only made a noise in the back of her throat in response and rolled back over. She knew Evelyn wanted her to get out of bed.

"C'mon, time to get up," Evelyn said, plopping herself down next to the other woman.

Stephanie recoiled from the water that suddenly soaked the bed beside her. "Ugh, baby, your soaked!" She tried to slide herself away from the moister but Evelyn's arm blocked her escape.

"Don't be a baby," Evelyn ignored Stephanie's whining and held out the coffee.

Stephanie took the mug but made sure to make her displeasure known in her facial expression. "You shouldn't be out running in this," Her wife's skin was cold to the touch.

Evelyn smiled and shrugged a shoulder. "It's good for ya," She stood and began stripping out of the damp clothing. Unlike her partner, she'd fallen in love with Seattle from the beginning. A city flanked by water and mountains. The people had been kind and she'd even managed to make a few acquaintances in their building by the end of the first week.

"You're gonna get sick,"

"Well then you'll just have to take care of me," Evelyn leaned down and pressed her lips to Stephanie's. She didn't kiss back. "Is there something wrong?" Evelyn frowned.

"I'm fine,"

"Are you sure? Cause if you wanna talk I-"

"I said I'm fine..!" Stephanie snapped and immediately regretted it.

Evelyn sighed heavily and swallowed her urge to snap back. She doesn't mean it. She told herself. "Okay," She said simply. "I'm gonna take a shower."

Again the room was quiet, save for the rain on the window and occasional rumble of thunder. Sitting there alone with her thoughts, she felt guilty and selfish. Get out of bed and stop being such a miserable ass hole... She forced herself out of bed and snatched the phone off the nightstand.

What can I do to make her happy here? Evelyn thought as she slipped into the shower. There has to be SOMETHING about this city you'll like? She sighed and shook her head. Moving here had been her decision and now... Now it seemed like a mistake, even if she loved the city.

"I don't think staying here is best for your recovery." She'd told Stephanie in the kitchen when she came home for the first time in four months.

"I'll do whatever it takes to make this work." Evelyn had thought she meant recovery at the time. But it was clear in hindsight she meant their marriage.

Did you think that I DIDN'T want the marriage to work? She raked her hands down her face.

The shower curtain slid open slightly and Stephanie popped her head in. Evelyn flinched, much harder than she cared to admit. "I'm gonna go see my sponsor, I'll be home later, I love you." The other woman leaned in further, kissed her, and was gone before Evelyn had a chance to say anything.

"I love you too." She said into the quiet of the bathroom, it would have felt wrong not too.

Outside the rain fell in a steady drizzle, not quite a downpour. Stephanie shivered and pulled her jacket tighter around herself. The walk to her sponsor's house wasn't long, but God did the weather make it miserable.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket. "Just walk in when you get here, the doors unlocked."

"That you, Steph?" A deep voice called from down the hall, followed by a pap-pap, pap-pap.

"Yeah," She called back, stripping off her rain-soaked sneakers before she headed down the hall. She found him in a bedroom that was acting as his home gym. Her new sponsor, Robert, didn't acknowledge her immediately. Still busy firing off combinations of punches into the punching bag that hung from the ceiling.

Stephanie leaned against the wall and waited for him to finish. "So, what's going on, Zoomie?" Robert asked, taking a deep breath.

Robert was an ex-Marine and a combat veteran. They'd met at her first meeting in Seattle and clicked as the only veterans there.

"Nothing," She shrugged.

"Oh yeah? You walked 20 minutes in the rain to talk about nothing?" He pressed, but not hard. If she walked over but couldn't bring herself to discuss what was bothering her there was no way to force it out. Not that he wanted too.

"Well, if you came to talk about nothing then I suppose you won't mind if I put the game on." Robert began to head for his kitchen.

"I fucking hate Seattle," She blurted out pushing herself off the wall. "I hate the cold and the rain and-"

There was a dumbfounded look on Robert's face, but he didn't say anything. Only watching as Stephanie paced back and forth before collapsing down on his bench. "I'm miserable here and I'm afraid it's going to ruin my marriage..." The real reason finally came out.

"Do you think it's going to ruin your marriage because of something she said? Or because YOU can't imagine why she wants to be with you?" Robert asked.

"Because why would she want to stay with me?" It was a question she'd asked herself more times than she could count. "She tried to kiss me earlier and I didn't kiss back," She'd tried to make it up with the kiss goodbye but the feeling of guilt hadn't left her. "And then I snapped at her for trying to ask me if I was okay? God, I just-" She stopped and let her head hang. "I want to be happy here, I want to be HAPPY, but I'm not. And I feel like a selfish ass hole..."

"Being depressed doesn't make you selfish, kid."

Back at their home, Evelyn busied herself with work. Running a property management business from 1,200 miles away was difficult. Especially when one is worried about the mental health of their significant other. She couldn't stop thinking about what to say when Stephanie got home. I'm sorry I made us move here, we can go home. Or; I just want you to be happy, we can go back if you want.

Her phone rang and she grabbed it quickly, hoping for it to be Stephanie. "Chris." Evelyn didn't feel much like talking to her business partner at the moment but answered it anyway.

"What's up, Chris?" She tried to sound like her normal cheerful self.

"Hey, how's it going?" He didn't pause for her to answer. "I gotta talk to you about your vacation next week..." Evelyn's lip curled back in irritation, she knew where he was going with this.

"What about it?"

"Well, it's just that we're really busy right now and I don't know if-"

"I'm far more aware of that than you. And I know it's a real big inconvenience to you, but Steph needs me right now more than you do." Evelyn interrupted him with a raised voice, something she rarely did.

"I'm just saying now isn't the best time for us to be running things without you." The man on the other end of the phone tried to reason.

The front door opened and closed, but Evelyn was too caught up in her argument to notice. "Chris!" It was practically a yell. "Do not make me choose between you and my wife," A small smile played at the edges of Stephanie's mouth as she listened from the hall. "Because I'm not gonna choose you!"

There was a heavy, defeated sigh on the other side of the phone. "Okay, we'll figure it out."

"Thank you." She hung up and tossed her phone onto the coffee table.

"What was that all about?" Stephanie asked, realizing the other woman still hadn't noticed her.

A great swell of relief washed over her at the voice. "Nothing important," She waved it off and moved the laptop out of the way and waved for her to come over. Stephanie gladly took the invitation and climbed onto the sofa. She wordlessly lowered her head into Evelyn's lap.

They stayed like that for a long time. Evelyn silently running her fingers through the curly brown hair and thinking of what to say.

"I'm sorry for being so miserable, and I'm sorry that I have so much trouble getting out of bed." Evelyn's hand intertwined with hers as she spoke.

"You don't need to apologize, I know that you can't help the way your brain works sometimes." It felt oddly good for her to hear someone else say it out loud.

"I'm sorry for making us move here," It was a genuine apology and not something Stephanie was expecting to hear.

The woman turned to look up at her spouse, confused. "What? We agreed to this." They had agreed but it'd been Evelyn's idea.

"We can go back if you want," Stephanie rolled all the way over and looked up into Evelyn's big brown eyes.

"But you love it here?"

"I do," Evelyn nodded. "But I love you more," She assured her before they both fell silent again.

"So do you? Want to move back, I mean." Stephanie thought about it for a long time. She knew whatever she chose her wife would support and that's all she really needed.

"No."

September 18, 2020 16:48

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