Derek and I both arrived home at the same time, and the moment I stepped into the main hall, I realized how much I had actually missed this place.
I guessed I had finally grown to love its ridiculously large size and luxurious interior. After all, Derek's house had been my home, too, for quite some time now.
"Hey, I'm gonna head to the gym for a bit. I'll be back for dinner," my husband announced.
"Alright. Oh, and how come you were able to leave work early today?"
"I didn't have that many things to do," he replied.
I was about to go upstairs when I noticed an empty bottle of vodka lying on the ground in the living room out of the corner of my eye. I went to grab it then quickly caught up to Derek as he was about to leave the house.
"Derek!", I called out.
"What?", he asked, turning around to face me.
"Have you been drinking?"
"No." He cocked his head to one side and gave me a weird look.
"Then what's this?", I demanded, holding up the bottle of vodka.
"Oh, that. Yeah, I had it yesterday night. You know, to try and make myself forget about you," he said nonchalantly.
"The whole thing?! Oh my god Derek, you could've blacked out! Or maybe even worse!"
"Hey, relax. It wasn't even that bad. I'm fine, see?", he reassured, placing his hands on my shoulders.
"Promise me you will never drink like that ever again," I stated in a stern tone.
"I promise, but only if you never run away ever again."
"We'll see about that," I said defiantly, stabbing my finger at his hard chest.
Derek smirked and then I turned around, heading upstairs to my room so that I could unpack my suitcase.
When I walked in, I was surprised to see that my bed wasn't neatly made like how I had left it last Saturday. The pillows were scattered everywhere, and the blanket was all wrinkled.
Who possibly could've slept in it while I was gone?
I made a mental note to myself to ask Derek about it once he got back. As I was putting my clean clothes back into the closet, my phone rang and I dug it out of my purse to see who was calling.
And boy, did I need to have a word with her.
"Hello?", I answered.
"Hey, girlie! Are you back home yet?", she asked.
"Yeah, I am. So, what's the deal between you and Derek? He told me that you gave him Dustin's address so he could find me."
"Trust me, Claire, I was not easy on him like you think. You should've heard the things I said to your husband. I made him drown in his own guilt and taught him a damn good lesson, too," she explained.
"Oh, really?", I remarked in amusement.
"You bet I did. I wasn't even going to let Derek know where you were staying because that's how angry I was. But then, I saw the desperate look in his eyes, and he kept saying how much he'd missed you. He was totally beating himself up over everything.
"I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. So in the end, I gave him Dustin's address. Claire, I know Derek will become a better man for you. Just give it some time," Charlotte finished.
"Wow, who knew my best friend was secretly a marriage counselor?", I said teasingly. She laughed.
"I just want you and Derek to be happy together."
"I understand. Well, I have to go make dinner now. See you next week."
Charlotte had just recently bought tickets to the Padres' game next Friday, and she'd wanted me to go with her.
I personally wasn't a fan of baseball, but I did enjoy sitting out in the sun with thousands of other people. The atmosphere was fun, not necessarily the game itself. Well, at least for me.
Since it was a beautiful evening, I decided to set up dinner outside in the backyard. As I was preparing the steak, Derek walked into the kitchen, wearing a pair of gray sweatpants that hung low on his hips and a white tshirt that emphasized his toned upper body.
Ugh, why couldn't he be less of a hunk?
"Oh, you're back," I said, giving him a smile.
"Yup. God, I can't wait to finally eat some real food again."
"What have you had the past week?", I asked him.
"Let's see. I ordered takeout most days and had a pizza on Wednesday. Oh, and I even tried to cook my own dinner twice."
"How did that go?"
"Horrible," he replied, pretending to gag. I laughed.
"Well, that's unfortunate. Oh, and since you're already here, can you check on the French onion soup for me real quick?"
"What do I have to do?", he asked with a slight edge to his voice.
"Just make sure that the cheese doesn't burn."
"Sounds easy enough," he said, breathing a sigh of relief before heading towards the oven.
Oh, Derek and his cooking fears, I thought to myself, smiling.
It was seven, and we were eating dinner under the gazebo on a small table in our backyard. The sky was a magnificent shade of pinkish-orange in preparation for the sunset- which had always been my favorite time of the day.
"This steak is so good," Derek complimented before putting another large piece into his mouth.
"Thank you. Oh, and by the way, did anyone sleep in my bedroom while I was gone?"
"Crap, I was afraid you'd notice. I was in a hurry this morning and forgot to make the bed."
"Wait, so you were the one who slept in my room?"
"Yeah. I guess I just missed you so much," he confessed with a sheepish grin.
I felt my cheeks flush and then pretended to clear my throat before speaking.
"So, how did the auction go?"
"It was good," Derek replied. I suddenly thought of his secretary and decided to bring her up also.
"Was Ashley there?"
"Yeah, she was," he responded, narrowing his eyes. "You know, you're always asking about her."
"Are you jealous of her or something?", he asked, raising an eyebrow. I nearly choked on my soup.
"Of course not!"
Derek crossed his arms in front of his chest, leaning back in his chair as he stared at me, his eyes lit up in amusement.
"She didn't have to kiss you right in front of my face that one time, though," I muttered quietly, looking down at my plate.
"You still remember that?"
"How could I possibly forget? You should've seen her that night. She wouldn't stop talking about the two of you. It was almost like she'd forgotten that I was your wife."
"Wait, was Ashley the reason you had been so quiet in the car?"
I slowly nodded my head in response and then my face grew sad. Derek reached out to touch my hand, causing a mixture of different sensations to burst throughout my entire body.
"Hey, what's wrong?", he asked with genuine concern.
"Nothing. I was just thinking about how happy you looked when you were dancing with her. And I don't know, I guessed it just kind of made me feel upset that night."
"Why is that?"
"Because I knew that you and I could never be like that. I mean, you're still in love with Ashley, right?"
"No. We just dated for a couple of years, and I had feelings for her back then. But I never actually loved her. And I certainly hadn't planned on marrying her like my mother had told you." Derek explained.
"So...you've never been in love before?"
"Nope. What about you?", he asked, his eyes gleaming with interest.
"I'd rather not talk about it," I murmured, stirring the remains of the soup in my bowl.
God knows I would never tell anyone about Nick- especially my husband.
Derek raised his eyebrow questioningly but then decided to just leave it at that. We both finished the rest of our dinner in silence, and I was about to stand up when he began to speak.
"So, I was talking to my mother awhile ago, and she said that she's expecting us to have kids soon."
My body immediately froze, and I felt as if I was going to throw up. He'd better be joking. But judging from the blank look on his face, he wasn't.
"Are you serious? I'd rather live the rest of my life blind than have children with you! Honestly, what's the point? You're just going to treat our kids the way you treated me. I'd pity them for having a father like you," I said coldly.
"I thought you've already forgiven me," Derek mumbled as he rubbed the back of his neck, sounding hurt.
"Just because I forgave you doesn't mean that I'm ready to let you in completely. You know, it's going to take a lot more than 'sorry' to fix our relationship- not like we ever even had one to begin with. I mean, for heaven's sake, you and I don't even sleep in the same bed.
"And as for your mother, I don't care what she wants. I absolutely hate her."
"Why?", Derek asked.
"She made me feel like shit compared to that beloved secretary of yours that night at dinner," I spat.
My husband was at a loss for words, and I took it as an opportunity to continue exposing the hatred I felt towards his mother that I'd kept to myself for so long.
"Do you not remember the things she told me? She said that you would've been 'so lucky' to have married Ashley.
"And what am I to your mother? Just some undereducated, former hockey player that doesn't deserve you. Do you have any idea how hurt I was that night?"
I was fighting the urge to cry, but I just couldn't control it. Tears began to roll down my cheeks and I sat there, waiting for my husband to say something.
"I didn't know. I thought everything she said had been accurate," he finally spoke.
"Well, you did know that you didn't have feelings for Ashley anymore and that you had never planned on marrying her.
"So, why didn't you tell your mom that instead of just sit there, making it look as if I had ruined your precious relationship with Ashley?!", I demanded, raising my voice. I was beyond furious right now.
Once again, Derek was totally silent.
"See? I knew it. You didn't care about me then, and you never will in the future either," I said bitterly, wiping away my tears with my thumb.
"Or, you just won't admit that you still have feelings for Ashley," I blurted.
"I don't," Derek said sternly.
"Why not? According to your mother, Ashley is 'far more beautiful than me'," I snapped.
"She was wrong about that," he mumbled.
"Oh, really?", I challenged.
"Believe me, Claire, you are the most beautiful woman I'd ever laid eyes on. I'm not kidding when I say that. I mean it.
"And I made a huge mistake in not defending you that night at my parents'. It's just- my mother is really sensitive, and I was afraid that if I objected to something that she had said, then she'd feel hurt."
Derek had a solemn look on his face as he briefly glanced at me before staring off into the distance.
"What do you mean, she's sensitive?", I asked, not quite understanding.
"I don't know how to explain it. She just...Look, I don't wanna talk about it," he said wearily.
Derek got up and grabbed his plate, walking towards the sliding door that led to the kitchen. Before stepping inside, he turned around to look at me.
"I'm gonna go to bed now. My head still kind of hurts from yesterday. I'll see you in the morning."
"Alright." I sighed.
I decided to stay outside for a while longer as I began to get lost in my own thoughts. I'd found out quite a lot about my husband tonight, and although our conversation had cleared up some misunderstandings between the both of us, it had also led to a bunch of unanswered questions that were currently brewing in my head.
Like what on earth Derek had meant when he'd said that his mother was 'sensitive'.
A/N- Remember to favorite and comment!