Three Weeks Later
Olivia struggled up the front walk with her crutches and bit her lip as she concentrated on her next step.
Jason was in front of her, taking a step backwards for every step his daughter took towards him and Elizabeth followed behind Olivia.
“You okay, baby?” Jason asked when he saw her tiny arms shake a little.
“It’s hard,” Olivia admitted in a small voice. She stopped moving. “Why can’t I walk anymore?”
“Your accident hurt your spine,” he kneeled down. “But you’re doing so much better than when you woke up. You remember being in the wheelchair?”
Olivia nodded miserably. “You and Mommy had to push me around all the time and I couldn’t go nowhere without you.” She sniffled. “Still can’t.”
“But you can use the crutches now,” Elizabeth pointed out. “And with all the therapy, you’ll be back to normal in no time.”
“Now let’s get you in the house,” Jason stood up.
Olivia shook her head. “I can’t go any further.”
Dr. Jones had told them not to push her more than she was comfortable so Jason didn’t argue. He took the crutches from her and lifted her into his arms. “Come on, honey.”
Elizabeth retrieved the crutches and shifted Olivia’s bag higher on her shoulder as she followed her husband and daughter into the house.
“Do you want something to eat? Something to drink?” Jason asked as he settled Olivia on top of the her bed and moved to take her sneakers off.
Elizabeth set the crutches by the door and started to unpack the bag, dumping most of the clothes into the hamper and setting Olivia’s stuffed animals and pictures back in their proper places.
Olivia nodded. “Could I have some apple juice? And maybe you could get my Beauty and the Beast tape from downstairs?”
Jason nodded and kissed her forehead before moving towards the door. Without thinking he kissed Elizabeth before exiting the room.
Olivia’s eyes lit up. “You really are getting back together!” she cried with glee.
Elizabeth flushed and approached the bed, tucking her hands in her back pockets. “We’re working on it, baby. I know how much you want us to be together.”
“I do,” Olivia nodded. “But…” she bit her lip. “I only want it if you guys still love each other.”
Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears and she sat on the edge of the bed. “I love your father–more than anything else in this world. The reason we’re getting back together is not solely because of you, baby. It’s because I can’t live without him and I’m tired of pretending I can.”
Olivia nodded. “But it is a little because of me, right?”
“Right.” Elizabeth ruffled her daughter’s hair. “If we hadn’t had you, we would have gotten divorced and never seen each other again. Having you in our lives has been such a blessing, honey. You know that we love you more than anything else in this world.”
“Up to the sky and around the world,” Olivia said, repeating one of her father’s favorite sayings. “And Mommy? I love you the same way and I know Daddy loves you.”
“I know it, too.”
“Mommy?” Olivia struggled to sit up a little. “What if I never walk right again?”
“Baby–” Elizabeth hesitated, not wanting to lie to her. “The doctors say that if you try hard and work at your therapy, there’s no chance you won’t walk again.”
“But what if I can’t?” Olivia’s lip trembled. “I was gonna do ballet this year, Mommy. What if I can’t do that anymore?”
“We will make sure that never happens,” Elizabeth promised. “If we have to search the whole world for a doctor, a treatment, a surgery…you’ll be okay again.”
Jason reentered the room–glass in one hand and video tape in the other. He set the tape on top of Olivia’s TV and crossed the room to hand her the apple juice.
Olivia reached for it and Jason waited as she tried to grip it. Finally, she had to use both her hands to wrap around the glass and even though it was difficult for her.
Elizabeth swallowed hard and clenched her hands in Olivia’s bedspread. After a long moment, Olivia was able to sip from the glass. She looked at her father hopefully. “Will you and Mommy watch the movie with me?”
“Sure, honey.” He got up to turn on the TV and put the tape in. He grabbed the remote and sat back on the bed, kicking his shoes off and putting his legs up. Elizabeth mimicked the motions and Olivia reveled in the idea of spending time with her parents like they were an actual family.
Olivia fell asleep during Belle and the Beast’s snowball fight so the two turned off the television and tucked her in.
“It’s good to have her home,” Elizabeth remarked as they moved downstairs. “This house didn’t feel the same without her.” She glanced at him as he followed her into the kitchen. “Are you okay with being in the guest room?”
Jason took a glass out of the cabinet and poured some iced tea from a pitcher in the fridge. “Elizabeth–we agreed three weeks ago on this arrangement. You’re not ready to go back to the bedroom.”
“It’s not that I’m not ready–it’s more that…I haven’t made love with anyone since you,” Elizabeth admitted.
Though he’d figured as much since her date with Ric Lansing had been her first and only foray into post-divorce dating, it was still jarring to hear it out loud. His wife was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever met and it humbled him to know that he was the only man to be inside her bedroom.
She flushed and looked away. “How–many women…?” she trailed off.
“Just Elise,” Jason assured her, wishing he could tell her no one. Elise had been a distraction from the void his divorce left in him and nothing more. He tucked her hair behind her ear and trailed a finger down her jaw. “There have been four women in my life and two of them were before I laid eyes on you.”
She took the iced tea from him and set it on the counter before wrapping her arms around his neck. “You know…the last time we made love was in this kitchen.”
“Yeah?” He slid his arms around waist and rested his hands on the small of her back.
“Mmm-hmm.” Elizabeth stood on the tips of her toes and started planting soft kisses on her ex-husband’s jaw. “I was doing the dishes and you came up behind me and kissed my neck.”
He did that now–having missed the taste of her skin. He nipped at it and she giggled. “Mmm, yeah, just like that.”
“I turned around to get you to stop and instead, you kissed me and we made love…” she closed her eyes as his mouth moved from her neck to the curve of her jaw. “Right…against…this…counter.”
He lifted her onto the counter and kissed her hard. She wrapped her legs around his waist and clung to him, opening her mouth to deepen the kiss.
Jason slid his hands underneath her t-shirt and wrapped them around her rib cage unwilling to go further without some sort of sign from her. Elizabeth threaded her fingers through his hair, scratching his scalp with her nails.
They finally broke apart a few moments later, breathing heavily. Elizabeth rested her forehead against kiss and smiled. “I’ve missed that.”
He pulled her off the counter and kissed the top of her head. “I don’t want to do anything you’re not ready to do, Elizabeth. But I love you.”
She bit her lip and smoothed her hands down his shirt. “Maybe…you could move back into the bedroom,” she began. “We don’t–we don’t have to do anything.”
“Kind of like London?” Jason asked. “We would just hold each other at night?”
She nodded. “I know we’re older than that–I’m not some naïve virgin anymore b-but in a way, I feel like I am.”
“It’s a good idea. Sex isn’t everything,” he assured her. “You’re not ready go back there and neither am I.” He stepped away from her. “It seems to me that while things were good in the bedroom–they weren’t so good out of it and I really want to make them better here before we take this in there.”
Elizabeth nodded and smiled easily. “I agree. And I think we’re already doing better so–acting more married would be the next step.”
“Also…” Jason hesitated. “I think I’d like us to get remarried before we make love again.”
Surprised, Elizabeth blinked. “Really?”
“Maybe it’s a little–old-fashioned,” Jason admitted, “but I think it would help to make a fresh start.”
“I just…I never thought you’d make a suggestion like that.” Elizabeth shrugged. “It’s surprising.”
“Bad surprising or good surprising?”
“It’s good surprising.” She pressed a light kiss to his mouth. “And I think it’s a great idea.”
“Good.” Jason reached into his back pocket and withdrew a long velvet jewelry case. She hesitated as she took it, knowing some slinky sophisticated bracelet or necklace would be inside. He used to give her these before parties–they’d been be specifically picked out complement what she’d be wearing that night.
And somehow, it wouldn’t seem right to her now. To be given diamonds, sapphires or pearls while she wore a pair of jeans and a t-shirt that proclaimed her to be a PTA mom. She wore a pair of tennis shoes and her hair was in a messy pony tail.
The days of sophisticated party dresses, high heels and extravagant jewelry could no longer be her every day life and she was terrified Jason hadn’t accepted that yet.
So when she opened the case and saw a simple gold chain with a charm that read #1 MOM, she burst into tears.
Alarmed, Jason yanked some paper towels from the roll on the counter and handed them to her. “You don’t like it? Did you want something else? I just–”
“I love it,” Elizabeth said, holding it out of his reach when he went to take it back. “It’s perfect…I was just expecting…”
“Some horribly inappropriate diamond necklace?” Jason asked wryly.
She flushed and nodded. “Yeah–I just–it’s hard to believe that you’re really accepting this life–where we stay in and we eat hamburgers instead of caviar and where the only jewelry I wear are my rings…”
“I know–but this life appeals to me now,” Jason told her. “I like the idea that we’re a family–that I don’t have to constantly share you with everyone.”
She took the necklace out of the case and held it out to him. “Put it on?” She turned so he could drape it around her neck and fix the clasp.
“How does it look?” Elizabeth asked, turning back around.
“Perfect.” Jason kissed her forehead. “Absolutely perfect.”