Rick walked in. He came to stand with Christopher and me. He half-smiled at me, but looked at Christopher apologetically.
‘My dove,’ Christopher began, but Rick interrupted.
“Why don’t we all talk aloud? It’ll be less effort then.”
I said, “Why don’t we sit down?” There really was no point in remaining standing. I sat on the couch with Christopher and Rick sat in what I thought of as ‘Harry’s armchair’.
Christopher frowned. Rick still looked apologetic. I thought that was odd. What was he sorry for? I didn’t know what to say. Silence reigned for a long time.
Finally, I broke it along with the tension. “I’m sorry.”
Christopher didn’t look up. He looked very thoughtful. “For what?” he asked. His enchanting voice was confused.
“For enjoying the kiss with Rick, for even kissing Rick.”
Rick looked sad when I said this.
“My dove, you can’t control what you like or dislike.” Christopher looked at me. “If you want him, I suppose it wouldn’t be fair for me to stop you.”
“What?” I asked, confused, unsure whether I’d heard him correctly.
“If you love Rick, you can have him. I won’t stop you.”
“Christopher, I love you too. And that’s where I’m stuck.”
“My dove, that’s a decision I can’t help you with. I’m naturally biased, but I care more that you get what you want.”
“I’m no good for you, though.” Rick startled us both. I’d quite forgotten he was there.
“You’ve changed, Rick, “I observed.
“Yeah. It was that kiss. I suddenly felt I could never be nasty or self-centred again because the warmth and love was more satisfying than anything I’d ever felt before. Unfortunately, it can’t change what I used to be. But thank you, Terri. Even though I’ll never be good enough for you, you’ve shown me a way of life that will give me more pleasure.”
Christopher chuckled. “Rick, that’s exactly what would make Terri choose you.” He then turned to me. “My dove it’s your choice,” he told me gently.
“Can I use my own way of choosing?”
Christopher chuckled. “Of course. My dove, we aren’t policemen or prison guards.”
I took a deep breath and then started to talk. Discussing things would make them clearer and point out other things to consider. It would generally make life easier too.
“Right. To start things off, I want to apologise to both of you.”
The boys looked confused. I ignored their looks.
“Christopher, I’m sorry for: loving you more than Charlie [Here, he waved a hand dismissively] and kissing Rick.” Christopher rolled his eyes. I turned to face Rick. “Rick, I’m sorry for kissing you. It was wrong to encourage your affections and it put you in an awkward situation with Charlie.”
I then directed my next words at both of them, looking at each of them in turn. “Both of you, I’m sorry for loving you. Someone’s going to end up upset tonight and it’s my fault.” They both shook their heads in wonder.
“Frankly, I doubt I’m good enough for either of you. How can you ever hope to trust me?”
The boys looked at each other and grinned. They turned to me.
“Easily,” they replied.
I groaned. “You are too good for me.”
Christopher responded, “We both want you though.”
Rick smiled. “Kind, good-natured Terri.”
Christopher grinned. “Extremely suggestible Terri.” He winked mischievously.
I was flattered. “Right. Now, it’s time to think about considerations for this very significant decision,” I continued, knowing that I had to make this decision correctly. “I’m not going to talk about the way you make me feel because I love you both.”
I turned to Christopher. “Christopher, we were already in a relationship. You’re willing to give me a second chance and you’ve done little to provoke negative feelings towards you. There’s also Charlie to consider. He’s willing to give me another chance too and he’d be heartbroken if I ended what we have. On the other hand, I prefer you. I have to think about whether it would be unfair on Charlie if I continued this relationship.”
I turned to Rick. “Rick, I didn’t realise I loved you until I kissed you. You annoyed me a lot before then, but you seem to have changed a lot.”
Rick frowned. “I’d rather you chose Christopher. I don’t know what I’d do if I split you two up.”
“Enjoy Terri, of course.” Christopher chuckled.
“Oh, both of you are fantastic guys,” I said. “I’m going to prove now that I love you both, okay? It’s also a leaving memory for whoever I don’t choose.”
I turned next to me to kiss Christopher. For a glorious few moments, we were holding hands and just enjoying the moment of love. I broke away. Christopher smiled. I then got up and walked over to Rick. I sat on his lap and kissed him.
There were similar feelings to the ones I’d experienced just over a week ago: calm, contentment and a feeling of being in the night place, but also a new sensation of wonder at kissing him intentionally.
‘It is an amazing feeling,’ I told him with my thoughts.
‘Yes,’ he agreed.
When I broke away, he was looking awed, as he had done last time, as if this was still a new experience for him. He looked captivated by me and couldn’t tear his eyes away.
I stood up and looked at both of them. I felt a pang as I made my decision.
“Rick,” I started, “your captivated look and awestruck face are so incredibly flattering.”
To Christopher I said, “Christopher, each time we kiss, the passion can’t be ignored. I’ve loved you since I kissed you to stop you from hypnotising me to forget you.”
I looked at the faces of the boys I loved. “You’ll always be special, invaluable friends, but from tonight, my heart belongs to...” I paused for dramatic effect and also to confirm in my mind that this was the right decision. The boys grinned. “Christopher,” I murmured softly.
Christopher stood up and came over to hug me. Tears welled up in my eyes. He stood back as Rick came to hug me too.
“Thank you, Terri,” he said. “You’ve changed me and I’m extremely grateful.”
The next thing I did was a massive surprise. Even I wasn’t sure I heard myself correctly as I said, “Now, Christopher, could you give Rick and me some space? I’ll see you whenever I see you next.”
Totally bemused, he stood up and replied, “Okay.”
Before he left, he kissed my forehead and said, in his most enchanting voice. “Goodnight, my dove. I love you.”
Rick looked bewildered. I smiled.
“That could’ve so easily gone the other way,” I told him. “I want you to feel like you had a chance of being in Christopher’s place right now. I also want some nice memories for us to relive when we might be feeling low. I’m here till 11.” I glanced at a nearby clock. “It’s ten o’clock now and I want you to treat me how you would’ve done if you’d been the one I’d chosen.”
He stared at me in surprise for a moment. Then, convinced that I was serious, he hugged me and lifted me off the floor.
“I love you!” he told me. He span me around. “Oh, I love you!”
He then proceeded to kiss me. On the forehead, on the cheeks and, of course, on the lips. I kissed back wherever I could, almost believing that I had picked Rick.
His mental voice came into my head. ‘You’re really okay with this?’
He sounded incredulous but elated.
‘Of course,’ I replied.
What about Christopher?
Christopher’s voice entered my mind. Mischievously, he thought ‘You’d better hope I do.’
‘Go away,’ I laughed. ‘This is Rick’s hour.’
‘A whole hour?’ Christopher pretended to sound shocked. ‘I don’t get that long with you!’
Well, come over tomorrow and bug me about it, then. Just let Rick enjoy the moment.
‘Okay, my dove.’ Christopher’s voice resumed its usual gentle tones. ‘See you then.’
I felt Rick tug me down so we were sitting on the sofa. We continued to kiss and a part of me knew I’d have similar feelings if I’d chosen Rick over Christopher.