The come down was hard and exhausting. We had what seemed like a constant barrage of questions and procedures, I don’t know about Taryn, but personally I was fed up of having to speak to officer after officer over the mess that had become our lives. On the nights when the buzz had died down, I would catch glimpses of her and I knew she felt guilty, she had kept to herself a lot and I didn’t want to push because I knew she was internalizing a lot. We made small, simple conversation with each other, choosing to be distracted by films and our own thoughts, but this particular night she seemed different.
“What are you thinking about?”, I break her reverie.
Startled, she takes a deep breath, but recovers quickly, almost as if she was expecting this question, meeting my eyes, tears soon begin to form, “I really don’t know Jon, is this really for you? All of this? I can’t help but feel like I’ve just thrown sand in your cereal. You…you built up your practice, only to have your best friend embezzle money from you, you meet me only to have my psycho e-boyfriend murder your beloved cat and uproot us…,” she sighs. “Is it all worth it?” She throws her hands up in the air.
Without hesitation, I scurry my way past some boxes and over to her, “I don’t like that you feel this way, none of this is your fault, Greg was embezzling money way before you came into the picture. Please, please don’t blame yourself. I love you more than I have ever loved anyone. I’m all in, ex boyfriend drama or not, I am ALL in. Before I met you, I wasn’t alive- I didn’t stop to look up and maybe I would have found you sooner if I had. That is my regret, that we hadn’t met each other sooner. The only reason I would back away is if you were to tell me your feelings weren’t the same. Have your feelings changed? You can tell me, I will completely respect that. We have been through something none of us could have predicted, so I don’t blame you for trying to re-think it all- I just want you to know that I am here.” I reach out and take her chin between my fingers. She lets out a breath and allows herself a small smile.
“No, I have no doubt in my love for you too, I just worry that my past will end up ruining our future. I don’t want to be so blinded and consumed that I make a selfish decision which costs us. I’m just scared, what if we have children and he comes after them? I don’t know how I’ll cope with that! How will you? I could never forgive myself.”
“Babe, listen to me- he won’t and cannot touch us, I’ll see to it- if it means I have to hire private security for the rest of our lives, I will. I lost my family once and I won’t let it happen again. Our move to the Brownstone will be the start of something new for us- it’s the much needed change we need.”
“But that’s some of the problem Jon, he’s affected so much of our lives already, it’s shocked me, I thought I was safe and got complacent. I forgot how dangerous he was and it cost us Mabel, I was just beginning to tolerate her. And I’m sure in some sick way he thought he was doing me a favour because he knew I don’t like cats. I just never thought it would come to this,” she gestures at the hotel room. “Having to move yet again because he’s got some twisted grip on reality, having to somewhat start all over again, it’s just depressing. It’s been years, I would just like to put roots down and feel secure. Feel like I can actually live…”
“Maybe so, but we’re not alone- we are starting over but this time together,” I take her over to the massive expanse that is our window on the top floor of the hotel and wrap my arms around her, “I mean how can you complain about this view? If starting over entails a view with you in my arms, I’ll take it, no matter the circumstances that got us there.” I kiss the top of her shoulder.
As we embrace, the past month flashes by me; after discovering Mabel’s body it all became somewhat of a blur. Our house went from being our sanctuary to a crime scene, with what seemed like an endless stream of investigators and officers treading through it. And with every official who entered our home, so did the dreams we had for ourselves. The hotel had become our home away from home and with the clinic shut for the past two weeks, we have only taken calls from Mother and our liaison officer; opting to keep some semblance of relaxation and low stress on ourselves but also on our relationship, both of us aware that nothing and everything had changed for us all at once. We weren’t much different with each other, at least not on the surface, but if there was one thing I learnt from being with Isabelle, it was to never assume everything was fine. I knew that I couldn’t make Taryn feel any less guilty, no matter how much I tried to reassure her, she would need to get there on her very own and I would just have to hold steady. I had given up on a relationship because I was far too wrapped up in my own feelings, I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
To say Mother was overjoyed we were moving into the Brownstone was an understatement, she was beside herself and would have refurbished every room if it wasn’t for the fact that she wanted Taryn to put her own stamp on the place. She arranged to have fresh peonies throughout the house every morning, windows were kept open, gusting fresh summer air through the halls. The curtains, linens and cushions in every room was updated and refreshed, rooms that are never usually opened up had their doors unlocked in decades. I don’t know how many people or things she was expecting, but the Brownstone was essentially awakened. Mother did things I never thought of or wouldn’t have thought of, so I was very appreciative for her enthusiasm. From having bread delivered from Taryn’s favourite bakery, to making sure all of her cherished items were moved into our room before we arrived, we were really taken care of. For that, I was eternally grateful to Mother, because after a few weeks, we could tell it was having the desired effect and the Taryn we both loved began to reemerge. The Brownstone has that effect, there were so many places for her to take walks and sort her thoughts out, we gave her the space to do so, not having to worry about her safety and fully knowing she would come back, especially when it came to food. Meals at The Brownstone weren’t to be missed and I’m sure Pierre was itching to cook for more people other than my picky Mother. He had trained with some of the best chefs in Paris and earned himself a Michelin star when he met Father at a banquet and instantly became friends. Somehow, within weeks of meeting; my father had managed to convince him to leave Paris and become his personal chef. It has been 25 plus years, so I suppose you could say it was a great decision for us and Pierre.
I could tell that Taryn and I were entering a new phase in our relationship, life at the Brownstone was like a dream, we woke up late mornings, took long strolls discussing our plans with the practice and just let life pass by at its own pace. Christian was remanded in prison and we would have to face him again in court, but that was a long way off. Greg had plead guilty to his charge of embezzlement and had agreed to pay what he stole back over 5 years; things were beginning to fall into place. We knew we couldn’t keep hiding at the Brownstone forever and we would need to return to the practice at some point, it was just so torn on how I wanted to proceed. Something had shifted in our lives, we no longer wanted to spend endless hours at the office, enjoying each other and slowing life down made us realise what mattered and it was us, our love. I embraced this new calm with both hands, aware that it may not last forever, but assured that we could always tap back into it. I had always frowned upon people who rushed a wedding and the same for people who dragged out long over drawn engagements and never thought I’d fall into either category, but after several weeks settling into the Brownstone and it beginning to feel like a home for Taryn and I, I looked over at her one Wednesday evening during our walk and said,
“Should we get married soon? Like sooner rather than later?”
“You…want to do that? Mr. Plan-ahead-and-eliminate-any-possibilities-of-things-you-can’t-control? You, want a quick wedding?”
“Yes. I have wanted us to be Mr & Mrs from the moment I met you and with all the shifts and changes, it’s just made it even more important to me. I don’t want to overwhelm you- just wanted to let you know how I felt.”
“OMG. Definitely, I don’t want a massive, over drawn wedding anyways, if anything I want it to be as intimate as possible. After Christian, I want to draw the people we love the most closer. Let’s get married in 6-8 weeks, we can do it here, in the vineyard and have the reception in the barn. It would be beautiful with the sunset and can we have fireworks? And can the barn be filled with white and light pink peonies?”
“Oh wow, so I see you’ve been thinking about this then? Most definitely, whatever you’d like- it’s a yes from me.”
She paused for what seemed like a minute, “Yes, let’s do this. Mrs. Jonathan Pierce. Is it about time we have that convo about my name?,” she says winking.
“As long as you’re my wife, I’m not bothered what your name is. But now that we’re on the subject of our future, when do we get to start making babies?,” I tease.
“Having real ones, I don’t know, practicing your technique…,” she says as she plants a kiss on my neck, “How does now sound?”
“Mmm…how can I say no to that?” Lifting her up into my arms, I cradle her as we tumble towards the bed.