"Is it Ginny?" she heard Rachel's voice break on her name. "Dammit Mike! Just be honest with me, with yourself. Are you in love with Ginny Baker?"
He moved to frustratingly scrub his hands over his face, wincing at the sound of Rachel uttering Ginny’s name with such an acerbic bite. It contained an intonation to it that didn’t so much end on a question, as a known fact being thrown out in hopes that the inclination was wrong, that she’d been seeing something that wasn’t actually there.
Except it was there.
“Rachel,” he tries, casting his eyes downward, not wanting to even acknowledge the accusation being thrown at him. That somehow, once again, he was being blamed for this relationship going south. He was trying, damn it. And she just…she wouldn’t let him.
Not on purpose, of course. When she’d gotten injured, he’d let the guilt consume him, letting his head fall into his hands as her future was narrated on television for all the world to see, bets being made on whether or not she’d ended her career.
But as he’d looked at her in that hospital bed, swallowed by the gown adorning her thin frame, arm tightly secured to her side, and big brown eyes pleading with him to cut the multitude of platitudes that had been paid to her from everyone else, and issue her to the truth. He’d vowed he wasn’t going to leave her.
The awkwardness from before, that night, had been pushed away, buried to the back of his mind, and the occasional sweeping flutter of his heart when he’d accidentally brush against her hand as they walked, or the stray curl that found its way tangled around his finger as she slept against him on the couch after a particularly grueling day of physical therapy, it was innocent.
He started purposely ignoring the calls of his ex-wife, the appeal of a quick fuck lost on him quite a while ago, if he were being honest with himself. They were still operating under the guise of trying, but these days the only thing he found trying was summoning the emotions to actually care anymore.
Before Ginny had shown up, he had wanted nothing more than another chance. Convinced that if he more attentive, more…something, that he could have his life back, the comfortable, the stable. But as he looked up at Rachel, red hair perfectly styled into false curls, her eyes probing him for an answer she already knew the answer to, her disappointment in him evident in every pore of her body, he realized he was over it.
Somewhere along the way, he’d come to realize that it wasn’t him. Hell, it wasn’t even Rachel. It was them. Together. It wasn’t right. Neither of them had wanted to put in the effort to make it work the first time around, the gradual fade of young love morphing into a half-assed marriage that was determined to fail way before Rachel had climbed into bed with someone else.
He’d convinced himself that that was what he had with Ginny too. Someone new that made him feel young, an alluring flame that would eventually flicker into darkness, leaving him cold and alone.
But Ginny was literal sunshine.
The beaming of her dimples dancing across her face, casting its light onto him, letting him bask in her glow. They teased and joked, argued and fought, but they also…loved.
And that was the difference.
The prickling of love had been steadily stabbing him since the moment she’d slapped his ass. The pain persisting well past the initial admiration and astonishment at her ability, filtering onto a personal level of trust, and infiltrating through his bloodstream to the heart of the matter.
He moves to open his mouth to speak, and his phone rings. Rachel’s eye flicker to the screen on the counter by them, Ginny’s dimpled smile glaring back at her.
“Answer it,” she says. “Tell her how you feel.”
And swiftly exits his house, his life.
“Hey,” he says with a sigh of relief into the phone.
“So I finally saw the episode you were talking about the other night” she says with a giggle. “And I think my message would’ve been, ‘Ginny, this is the bad place, you’re being tricked.’”
“Rookie move, you never would’ve finished writing that,” he teases, and he can hear her frustrated sigh.
“Okay, smart ass, what would you have written?”
He answers with the first thing he can think of, the only thing he would be thinking of when facing eternity.
Yep, Mike Lawson was in love with Ginny Baker.