Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?
“Stop! Just stop. Please.”
He grimaced and gently rolled away to sit on the edge of the bed. He ran his fingers through his hair. The movement caught his eye in the mirror of the dressing table.
Ignoring her, he got up and closed the bathroom door behind him.
Leaning on the counter, the mirror even bigger than the one in the room, he saw a world-weary naked man staring back at him.
A man with salt in his pepper on top. Lines over cheekbones that hadn't been there the last time he looked. A stomach not as lean and hard as it used to be.
Abruptly he turned his back.
“Are you okay?”
He ran his hand through his hair again. It wasn't her fault, but the sympathy he heard in her tone didn't sit well with his pride.
Quickly disposing of the condom, he washed his hands not looking in the mirror.
“Yeah, I am fine. Just give me a second.”
Her, “okay,” floated away from the door.
He couldn't hide in the damn bathroom the whole day, so he went back to the room and started dressing.
She touched his arm. He swallowed and looked at her. She was a lovely woman and deserved so much more. But he bit his tongue. It wasn't the time.
“Next week?” she asked with a smile, albeit a little tentatively.
He smiled back and kissed her, but didn't linger. “Yes.”
He waited a few minutes after she had left, before doing the same.
The elevator pinged a minute later, and the door slid open.
Stephanie Ross-Jackson froze and slowly dropped her hands away from fixing her hair.
Nicholas Granger blinked twice before recovering his composure and getting into the elevator on the fifth floor of the Regency Hotel.
“Annie? Is it really you? What are you...?”
He suddenly stopped talking and looked at the floor. She looked just as flustered as he felt. Fixing her hair. In a hotel elevator. Middle of the morning.
He grimaced. Just because he was, didn't mean she did.
He looked up when she shifted.
He held up his hands. “No judgement. Honest. And, it is none of my business.”
Her cheeks turned the sweetest pink, but she nodded. “Thank you.”
They stepped out into the foyer and headed towards the front door.
“Can I give you a lift?”
Stephanie smiled. It was a real one and yet he got the feeling she didn't do much of that.
“Thanks, but I have my car.”
He laid a gentle hand on her arm to prevent her from walking away.
“Do you want to grab a coffee sometime? Catch up?”
She looked surprised, and then she nodded. “I would like that.”
~ Chapter 2: Next week.