Chapter 11. My Boyfriend’s Back
I couldn’t come up with words. I knew I should say something, but I had nothing in my head, other than the certainty that he was here.
He seemed to have the same difficulty. He stared at me, his eyes huge and worried. He kept opening and closing his mouth, clearly wanting to say something, but scared to say the wrong thing.
“Eddie.” He finally settled on saying that.
I stood aside so he could enter, and get out of the rain. Nick was suddenly beside me, and he drew Sean into a hug.
“Welcome back, asshole.” Nick said, grinning. Sean didn’t stop looking at me, even when Nick hugged him.
“Hey, man. Thanks.”
Nick turned to me, and gave me something close to a smile. “I’m going to go, now. I know you two have a lot to talk about.”
“Nick—“ I began.
“You can handle him, Ed.” He said. I frowned at his back as he walked out the door and shut it behind him.
I stood there facing the door and avoiding the situation behind me, until he said, “You’ve lost so much weight.”
I turned around to find him looking me up and down, the worry still in his eyes.
“What are you doing here?” I said.
“Nick called and told me about the….the remains you found yesterday. I got on a plane as soon as I could. I know it might be….” He trailed off.
“What does it matter to you?” I said.
“You matter to me, more than anything, really. If it is Scott, I didn’t want….I wanted to be here for you.”
“You wanted to be here for me, now, you mean. On your timeline. Because you haven’t been here for me for months.”
“I wanted to be back here the whole time. I never wanted anything more.”
“Then why didn’t you come back?”
“You know why. I never hid the reason I left from you. I thought I was doing what was best for us. I needed to know that I wasn’t pushing us somewhere we weren’t ready to go. I needed to give you more time, and I wasn’t able to do that by being here with you.”
“What about what I needed? Because I can tell you, I didn’t need what you did to me. I didn’t need all that pain. I didn’t deserve it.”
“I was trying to make sure we didn’t end up in pain later. I went away so that I wouldn’t do something stupid, like propose, or ask you to move in. Because I wanted that so soon. I always move too fast, and I was doing it again and I knew it—but I couldn’t stop it.”
“You what really pisses me off about that explanation? The idea that you thought you could control how quickly or slowly I fell in love with you. It isn’t up to you. It was never up to you. And I was already in love with you before you left, so if you wanted to put the brakes on things, you should have fucking done it sooner!” I felt the tears break over my lower lids, dripping down my cheeks. The sensation made me cringe, and that set off the huge, chest-caving sobs.
“Eddie.” Sean’s voice broke, and his arms were around me before I could react. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I was wrong. It was a stupid plan. I’ve been so miserable since I left, and I just…I missed you so much. When I heard about…about yesterday, I just started packing. I didn’t even stay long enough to do full transfers of my cases.” He took my face in his hands. “Even if you don’t love me anymore, I just had to see you. I had to know you were okay. I had to be here for you, even if you don’t want me here. I couldn’t stay away. I’m sorry.”
We cried, curled in each other’s arms for several minutes.
“I missed you, too.” I said, finally. His arms tightened around me in response, and I added, “I tried so hard not to. I feel stupid for…” I trailed off. I couldn’t complete it and say ‘loving you.’ My sense of justice wouldn’t let me say those words. His ears couldn’t enjoy them, yet. “So, how much longer were you going to stay, if I hadn’t….made my discovery?”
“I was getting near the breaking point. It had been so long since I’d had direct contact with you. I had no idea whether you were getting my emails or texts. I only knew how you were through Nick. I told them I wouldn’t take new cases, and I’d started to transfer and outsource the ones I knew would take a while. I was probably going to come back within the next month or two.”
“Sean, why did it take you so long?” I said. He started to say something, and I stopped him, “No, look, why did you assume that if it came down to me having some choice between you and Nick, that I’d end up choosing him? Why wouldn’t I choose you?”
Sean blinked at me, and then looked down. “I…I don’t know. I mean, I guess because…he was your first choice.”
“At a time when I didn’t realize you were a possibility. And why would I? You were just….so different from me. I was a boring, prudish librarian. At first, I thought you were dating a friend—so you were off limits. Then I find out that you are the fieldwork guy for a private investigations firm, with ties to international detective agencies. Bond flirts with Moneypenny, but he’d never date her. So when you pursued me—it was the biggest shock of my life that someone like you would find me desirable. That you could fall in love with me. So do you honestly believe that I felt like I was settling for you?”
He was quiet for a few moments, before he said, “Maybe.”
“Ed, I thought Paige loved me, and it didn’t take much for her to sleep with Armand—and Armand is an asshole. So if someone like Nick is in the running, why would I believe I stood a chance? That you wouldn’t eventually leave me for him?”
“Because Paige wasn’t in love with you. Huge difference.”
Sean regarded me quietly for a few moments, then said, “Do you still love me?”
I considered making him wait. Moments before, I couldn’t utter the words because I felt like he didn’t deserve them, and he still didn’t. But I didn’t feel like playing games. I didn’t want to lie to him or conceal my feelings. He didn’t deserve my love, but it didn’t make sense to me to hurt myself in an attempt to hurt him.
Before I could do or say anything else, he kissed me. It was the type of kiss we would have shared if we had been a normal couple, greeting each other after a long time apart. It expressed love more than lust. Sweet, and certain of the reception. No burning desire or clutching at the clothes, just relief and comfort.
And then it changed to something different. It was not sweet.
It was months of longing, despair, and uncertainty. It had been months. The better part of a year. It had been a very long time for both of us.
When we finally pulled apart, he smoothed my hair.
“I love you, Eddie. I won’t leave again. I promise.”
I nodded, not sure if I really believed him.
“I know it will take time for you to trust me again, and I know that is all my fault. So, right now, I think we need to get back to satisfying some basic needs.”
I raised an eyebrow. Does he seriously think this is the time to ask for sex–
“What would you like for breakfast?” he asked, smiling sweetly.
I laughed, and he grinned at me before turning to the kitchen.
It felt both odd and familiar to have Sean back in my life. It was overwhelming, but we were afforded a break from each other due to ordinary life necessities. Sean needed sleep and time to take care of the myriad issues that arise when you come back home from a long stay outside the country. And I had to work. Nick had called to let me know that we, along with Connor, had a meeting this afternoon with the wife of the journalist that had gone missing when my brother disappeared.
Around 3 PM, we were walking up the sidewalk to Kevin Tremaine’s house, to meet his wife, Patricia.
“I heard the story on the news about the remains. No one from the police department has contacted me to discuss the possibility that it might be Kevin, but I know it could be. No trace of him has ever been found, so anytime they discover anything like that, I wonder if they’ll be calling me to tell me they’ve found him.” Patricia said.
“I know the feeling.” I said. I had already explained that we’d stumbled on Kevin’s disappearance while investigating my brother’s.
“Then you know that at this point…well, I have little hope. I just want to know what happened.” Patricia said.
“We will do our best to find out what happened, especially if his disappearance is related to Scott’s. What can you tell us?” Nick said.
“Kevin was…jumpy, just before he disappeared. He said he was working on a big story, and that he was trying to figure out how to keep us safe.” Patricia said.
“Safe?” Nick said.
“Yes. He kept telling me that we couldn’t trust the police in this town. That’s why I’m not surprised that they never found any leads on his disappearance. I’ve always wondered if the police were somehow behind it—that he might have been working on a story about police corruption or something.”
“We know that shortly before he disappeared, he’d covered the dock project. Did he ever talk about that with you?” Connor said.
Patricia was silent, considering, for several moments. “The only thing I can remember is that he told me that Donald Price was being funded by some guy….that…Delgado? Dor-something. Dorantes. He wasn’t sure what his stake was in Price’s politics, but he thought they were connected in some way.”
“Do you think his big story was connected with that?” I asked.
“It is possible, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. He wouldn’t give me details. I think he was worried that if I knew, I would be in danger.”
“Patricia, do you have any of Kevin’s notes or anything that he may have taken notes on? A home computer he did work on?”
“Oh, sure—he kept a small home office here. The police looked at some of it soon after he disappeared, but they never found anything they thought was important. I searched through everything, and I never found anything, either. But I’ll take you up there right now.”
The office was pretty small, but orderly. Nick glanced at the file cabinets, and I looked around at the different awards and posters on the walls as Connor talked to Patricia about files kept on disks and hard drives.
The desk drawers were locked, and I asked Patricia if she had the key.
“Oh, yes—here, come with me and I’ll get it for you.”
I walked with Patricia into her bedroom, and she pulled open the top dresser drawer.
“Here we go.” She said, handing me a set of keys.
“Were these Kevin’s keys?” I said.
“Not all of them—I mean, he had some keys with him when he disappeared. These were keys for things around the house, mostly copies. There is one key here—I don’t know what it goes to. Probably some old locks we replaced or a padlock we stopped using.”
“Do you mind if I take a picture of it? Maybe it is to a safe-deposit box or something?” I said.
“Sure—I never thought of that. We bank at Sunset Trust, if that helps at all.” Patricia said. I snapped a few pictures, and then we went back to Kevin’s office.
As small as the office was, it didn’t take long to finish our search. There really wasn’t much. We said goodbye to Patricia, and that we would be in touch if we discovered anything new.
“It’s looking like the office was a bust for notes, though I do have some disks to look through.” Connor said.
“I have a feeling about that key.” I said.
Nick smiled at me. “I do, too. We’ll canvas the local banks, right now, starting with Sunset Trust.”
Authorial Interjection: I said in a response to a comment that I would get the next chapter up before the end of October, and I managed to do it, though I certainly cut it close. I had the scenes with Sean and Ed for weeks, but I couldn’t get the rest of the pictures until recently. It took me a while to figure out exactly how the end of Sean and Ed’s scene would play out. I tried a few different ideas, and finally settled on this one.