I'm at work early today, here for over an hour already. Caleb wanted me to accompany him to an awards breakfast this morning downtown.
It was at the same hotel where Jacob once hijacked the ballroom and some of the band members to have a dance with me, but hey, we'll just gloss over that today because I can't go there right now.
I have more immediate fish to fry. Esoteric, mysterious, repetitive fish. Inconsequential feeder fish.
Hockey night was last night. Ben and Lochlan put on their gear and rip each other to bits. Oh, and that has nothing to do with the game. Westies won, 4-1. Easties never had a chance. My netmonkey of a husband was on fire.
I should have let them go alone but I was looking for something to do and also, I worry that at some point their blows will stop sending messages and start sending more pain. There's enough pain. So after the game when I found myself in my boots and Jake's big flannel jacket, standing between Ben and Lochlan in the net on the ice I figured all three of us had reached a new low. It took one fist to fly to get me out there and they didn't dare throw any more punches with me that close. It's much more difficult to land a proper hit wearing your gear and usually that doesn't stop them. It doesn't stop Ben, okay, fine. I'll give you that.
Since Lochlan came out here with an obvious hand to play, I turned to him, knowing full-well that blocking Ben from him was a clear message.
Why are you doing this?
Do you need to ask?
I guess I do. I don't understand you.
Bridgie, come on. You know damn well why I'm here. When everything goes to shit everyone always comes to you. I know when I walk through your door the lights are on, the house is warm, there's a fire, there's food for me and there is someone to hold. It's an escape or a comfort or a little bit of both. It's constant.
It isn't yours, Lochlan.
It could be.
No it can't.
Why not? You're wearing down. It took ten years for Jake to convince you, about ten weeks for Ben, so I figure ten days should do the trick for me.
You sound like an asshole, Lochlan, and you're not one. We're doing really good. Please don't make trouble for us now. Besides, you already made your choice and it wasn't me.
I made a mistake, princess.
Well you know what, Lochlan? I didn't. For once. I think you need to find somewhere else to spend Christmas. I can't be around you.
You're used to it, I don't plan to be difficult, I'm just telling you that I fucked up because I didn't want to compete with the caveman, so I pretended that I was bowing out first. In case you made a stupid choice, which you did and it's been a year and you're still carrying on this joke of a marriage and it's time to get back on track.
Go get your stuff and leave our house please.
He had the nerve to look over my head, waiting for the inevitable nod from Ben that I would be ignored.
It never came.
You want me out? You know damn well I'm here because there is nowhere else.
Go home and work this hard on your family. Keira's not the only one who's made mistakes.
How many times are we going to have this conversation, Bridget? You are my family. Or are you too stupid to understand that I'm here for you now?
Since we all seemed to be on a roll with trying something new, me with asking Lochlan to leave for good, and Lochlan using incredibly mean words against me, Ben decided to try something new as well. He pulled me out of the way, and I thought he was going to haul off and punch Lochlan again but he didn't. He kept going, skating and pulling me across the ice, not stopping until we were on rubber. He disappeared into the dressing room and I stayed outside, waiting, and then he came out in his clothes and took my hand and we left the rink.
Of course, this is Ben we're talking about, and he unlocked the truck for me, threw his bag in the bed, started it up, turned the heater on high and then went back inside the rink. About a minute later he came out again with the usual red knuckles, fire in his eyes.
I started to ask if Loch was okay and he cut me off.
He's going to pick his stuff up later tonight when we're out. Don't you back down now, bee.
I shook my head.
You'll back down, but for tonight this stands.
Ben am I-
-stupid? That's not fair. Naive, maybe. But only when it comes to men.
But what about-
Me included. And I'm glad for that, sometimes.
Just now in typing that I saw the double meaning, and I know that I'm where I'm supposed to be. I'm relieved, Loch did indeed take his things while we had silent coffee after the game and he's gone to stay with John, which is where he was supposed to stay from the beginning. And I don't know if I'll back down. The longer I live the more I'm beginning to understand that there is a glaring, wide-open space in between coveting someone and respecting them and being on this end of such a significant lack of respect with all the history between Lochlan and myself leaves me furious that I didn't see it sooner. I'm not what he wants, I'm just leverage to keep him where he thinks he should still be.
And I don't think I like that anymore.