“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”– Aldous Huxley
Windenburg Lake House
After his terrible past 48 hours, and the afternoon of drinking, passing out on the couch, then sometime in the middle of the night Vivien almost literally dragged him to his bedroom for some better rest, Liam had slept in well into the next day, it was almost 3 pm when he rose.
Rubbing his eyes and yawning, dressed in some casual hoodie and sweatpants, but barefeet which seemed incredibly intimate and sexy to Vivien, Liam entered his living area, stopping as if he had run into a wall, then smirked crooked, his eyebrows arched.
“What is all this? I thought I smelled food” he chuckled, bemused.
Vivien turned to him, smiling too.
“Oh good, you’re up, I was just about to come get you out of hibernation, sleepyhead. Speaking of, how is that head of yours?”
“Surprisingly functional and only slight throbbing, but I think I am hallucinating, because this looks as if you cooked, and we both know that is not a real thing.”
“Hardee har har, aren’t you all sorts of hilarious? I used to cook for you all the time when we lived in San Myshuno. So shut up, sit down and dig in. You must be hungry.”
Both sat down, silence fell, both took tastes of the food, frowned and grimaced.
“Oh. My. GOD. Ahem, Liam. What color is your salt container?”
“None, it’s in the thingy the store sells it in. My sugar, however, is in a blue jar with a white lid.”
“Oh boy. Oops.”
“Ahem yeah … Viv, did I tell you about that awesome new Italian joint that opened in old downtown? Their pizza is to die for, and they even deliver all the way out here, quickly too, it’s still hot when it arrives.” Liam chuckled.
“You call and order, I’ll clean this train wreck up!”
“Thank you, still, this was a very sweet gesture by you. And very unexpected. In more than one way.”
Laughing, Liam gave Vivien a hug, then they went about their tasks.
After dinner both sat together in a food coma. Neither had eaten in a long time, as soon as they smelled the food, they dug in till they almost burst at the seams.
“You weren’t lying, that was delicious. I am stuffed, I don’t think I will be able to eat again this year. Sorry again for ruining dinner. Or rather lunch. Well, too late for lunch, to early for dinner. So .. linner. Anyway, whatever that was, it was terrible. So sorry. I tried.”
“It’s the thought that counts, and that was very thoughtful. Were you here all night? Last night I meant.” Liam couldn’t hide a grin.
“Yeah, on the couch. After I dragged you to your room, you’re too tall to sleep on your couch all night, and I was afraid you’d throw your back out on that thing. Didn’t expect you to sleep like a bear through winter after I tucked you in, but guess your body needed rest.”
“Funny girl, it was summer when I went to bed and it’s still summer or you really lost your mojo with dressing yourself. Why didn’t you stay in Nick’s room? Or with me … I mean, it is a double bed, and I was as safe as I will ever be, as trashed as I was. Sorry about all that, by the way. You shouldn’t have had to see me like that. On that note: wine? I am still hoarding a bottle of your favorite red.”
“No, thank you, I am good. And I think you had quite enough of that type of thing for weeks. And I think I had my fill of cleaning up my ex-husband’s drool, vomit and stale sweat like a man-sized toddler to last me a long time. You’re lucky I care about you, otherwise, you’d be laying somewhere with flies circling you.”
“Ha ha ha – jeeze woman, chill. I wasn’t suggesting getting drunk, just some after dinner sip with TV. Trust me, I am done with the getting slobberknocker myself for a good while.”
“Glad to hear. Still pass.”
“You did hear me say it’s your favorite red, right? The one you got ‘addicted’ to on our honeymoon? The one that is harder to find than a unicorn … yum yum yummm.”
“I heard you and it’s super-sweet, I am just not feeling wine right now. Come on, let’s pick a movie and shut up. Gotta pass the time somehow, because I decided I am staying with you until I am convinced you can be left unattended again without hurting yourself, you man-child. I am picking the movie, and you better like it!”
“Yikes. Sir, yes Sir. Sorry, just to make sure, we did get divorced, right, or was that part of a dream? Cos this sure feels like I am getting wifey-whipped again.”
“I’ll give you a dream and a whipping!”
Vivien jumped up, ran around the table to ‘attack’ Liam by tickling him, he retorted in kind until they were both in stitches.
Once things calmed down and they had decided on a movie, they were sitting on the couch next to one another, relaxed and comfortable.
Liam covertly glanced at the beautiful woman next to him, the international superstar vocalist, who right now just looked like his old childhood friend to him, the one who despite all their issues hadn’t abandoned him when he needed her the most – again. That alone had made all the difference in the world for Liam. Vivien was already completely engrossed in the movie plot, while he was left to wonder how she managed to make him laugh, when only yesterday he felt like he could never even smile again.
San Myshuno Grand Skyview Hotel About three weeks later
Vivien fake-laughed at some unfunny joke she had barely even paid attention to, then excused herself away from the crowd, heading for the exit to the outdoor area of the rooftop hotel. Man, how she hated such elbow rubbing events with all the other VIPs and those who though they were. People were either asking uncomfortable questions Vivien was never going to answer or trying to put her into a coma with boring stories of their boring lives doing a whole lot of nothing except waste obscene amounts of money on themselves.
A waiter scurried up offering her champagne off a filled tray, but she waved him away, then stepped outside into the cool crisp air, inhaling and exhaling deeply, enjoying the silence, which after the dull roar of the fundraiser made her ears ring. She stepped close to the railing and looked over the stunning San Myshuno skyline, like an illuminated still-life painting.
“Lovely night we’re having. Do you enjoy Mozart as much as I do?” she heard a familiar male voice near her ear, her head snapped around to find Liam before her, smiling like a cat that caught the canary.
“Liam?! What are you doing here?” Vivien smiled back at him, genuinely surprised as she hugged him briefly.
“Which attorney in desperate need of rebuilding a clientele would pass up such a bonfire of vanities? If I learned one thing about VIPs, it would be that they always need good attorneys and many. Now my lips are starting to get chapped from all the ass kissing and I saw you sneak out here. I knew you would be here, even though you didn’t call. My heart is broken. How quickly they forget.”
“It was an ultra-last minute decision, I originally was scheduled to attend another event in the Valley, but that got cancelled as we all were already outside the doors because of a sewer line break, making the whole place reek of raw sewage. Already dressed up with no place to go, I remembered I hadn’t shown my face around fundraisers in too long, so I jumped on the jet and came here. I would have texted you later, I swear. How did you even get in, this is supposedly exclusive?”
“I told them I am your husband. Not really a lie, I may have just misplaced the ‘ex’ part somewhere. Oops. Not my fault that they don’t follow the tabloids.”
“Oh, you. Well, it’s nice to see you. These events are sedatives, about as pleasant as a Tabasco-sauce enema, especially when attending alone.”
“Wanna go find someplace to sit and just talk? I’ll get us some wine and then I’ll entertain ya. I try to keep the Tabasco sauce enema parts to a minimum.”
“Oh, nothing for me, thanks. I’ll wait if you want to grab something for you.”
Liam gave her a strange look, for a while there was silence between them. He didn’t move, didn’t leave. Then he took her hands in his. Vivien’s heartbeat accelerated, even more so when Liam’s eyes found hers.
“When were you planning on telling me? Or was I to find out in the breaking news marquees eventually along with everyone else?”
“Vivien, I’ve been watching you. For the past several weeks whenever alcohol was available, you passed every time. Normally you would hurdle jump people to get a refill on the champagne, yet you declined every single one of the overzealous waiters tonight and you would NEVER say no to your favorite wine. I think by now I have offered that bottle I still have a solid dozen times during all your visits at my place since my terrible meltdown after Lana, and you declined every time. So, either you think I am trying to poison you, which is refuted by the fact that you have come over for dinner a few times now in the past weeks and gobbled everything up, or … well, let’s just say you are glowing, you are gaining weight, eating healthy and regular portions, not the tiny dollops you usually only allow yourself, you are very cuddly around me despite of all. I remember those signs. Vividly. Even though it’s been almost 8 years since the last time.”
Vivien exhaled deeply, then nodded.
“You were always very perceptive.”
“Part of my job. So, I am right. How long have you known? How far along?”
“I have known for a good while, pretty much since about a week or so after it happened. Still first trimester, but most of my waistbands are already too tight, so stretchy clothing is my friend now. I have a feeling I cannot hide it much longer, unless I start wearing mumus. I already had some woman in a restroom recommend medication against menstrual bloating to me last time I wore something body hugging.”
“Were you ever gonna tell me?”
“Eventually. The timing just wasn’t right, and our situation is more than iffy. I don’t even know what we are at the moment. Friends? Amicable exes? On top of all everything that happened with Lana. I don’t know how much time is appropriate after something like that. So, I waited until the right moment presented itself. Guess that would be now. Little unexpected, I had hoped to be a little more prepared, but such is life.”
“Viv, I gotta know, whose is it? Is it mine? Please don’t say it’s Alex Montgomery’s …” Liam looked in physical pain as he tensely tried to read the answer in Vivien’s eyes.
Vivien closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, trying to find the right words.
She exhaled, opened her eyes, then smiled up at him.