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This is the continuation that people have been asking about for quite a while now, and it’s also the conclusion; I sincerely hope it was worth the wait.
I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to GrandTeton for his editing patience, his verbal raised eyebrow at some of the things I originally wrote, and his subsequent suggestions for changes that actually made this readable and coherent; that this is legible at all is due to his taking me by the scruff of the neck and pointing patiently at where the punctuation is supposed to go. I would also like to thank him for his continued sanity-checking of me; sometimes I really need it…
Please note that, as always, this is not the real world, it’s my world, it’s a made-up place, so things happen the way I want them to; sometimes they act like they would in the real world, and other times, well…
If you liked this please rate it, if you didn’t please tell me why.
I do answer all emails, even the death-threats, so if you want a reply, please make sure you add your contact details.
Finally, please note, this is a REPOSTED version of my original story, edited and rewritten to clarify and expand or remove some things that were a little unclear in the original posting, so this is not a plagiarised anything, it’s me putting back what I originally wrote, with a few amendments. Check with Laurel if you don’t believe me.
Have fun, and don’t take it too seriously, it’s only a story, for heaven’s sake…
Ryan was worried. Olivia hardly spoke these days; all she did was drift around the house like a ghost, mechanically caring for Jack, and sitting in silence with him at meals, barely commenting on anything he said. He asked her repeatedly what was wrong, but all he ever got in return was a distracted “nothing, I’m fine…”
It was hard to pinpoint exactly when things had started to go so wrong between them; about three months after the birth of Jack, and just about the time the pressure at work had started to ramp-up, when he’d needed her the most, Olivia had seemed to start pulling away from him; before Jack was born, Olivia had been her usual self: warm, witty, funny, concerned, interested in him, his day, everything about him.
After the birth, although she’d seemed her old self again, she’d gradually become more withdrawn, silent, almost uncomfortable in his presence, spending all her time either caring for Jack or working out almost constantly in the gym in the basement of the complex they lived in; for some reason she’d become almost obsessed with shedding the already negligible baby weight she’d gained.
More troubling to Ryan was the fact that her libido seemed to have drained-away to nothing; they’d been having incredible, mutually satisfying sex almost right up to the point she was wheeled into the delivery room, but after the eight-week period mandated by the obstetrician, while initially she’d been as receptive and enthusiastic as before, that had begun to tail-off, daily encounters slowly lessening to weekly, then monthly, and finally, nothing for several months now. Any advances he made were rebuffed, politely, but firmly; she was tired, she was busy, she a had a lot on her mind. Lots of reasons, good reasons, but they all added-up to one thing: his Livvie didn’t want him anymore, and he was at a loss to know why.
A year had passed since Jack’s birth, and for Ryan, it had become an annus horribilis, as he watched Olivia, his Livvie, the love of his life, slowly but surely cut herself away from him, and he didn’t know why…
This evening was a case in point. He’d come in from work and slid his arms around her to kiss her, only to have her turn and step away from him, avoiding his attempts to kiss her cheek and making it clear she didn’t want him touching her. Puzzled, hurt, frustrated, for once Ryan lost his cool, and took her wrists, pulling her around to face him.
“What, what have I done? If you tell me what I did, maybe I can fix it! Why are you locking me out like this? What did I do? Livvie, I love you more than anything in the whole world, I always have, why are you pushing me away like this?”
Livvie looked past him, refusing to meet his eyes, her lip quivering, and Ryan thought, even in his moment of hurt and frustration, that he’d never seen her look more beautiful or more desirable.
“Nothing, it’s nothing…” she whispered, and Ryan sighed gustily, not relaxing his hold of her wrists.
“It is something baby-girl, something’s wrong, badly wrong; you ignore me, you drift around like a ghost, you barely speak to me anymore. What’s wrong, Livvie? You’re killing us, Livvie, you’re pushing me away and out of your life. What did I do to you that was so bad you have to throw everything we had away? If you want me to go, I will. Is that what you want? Because I don’t know who you are anymore, and you don’t seem to care whether I’m here or not”
Olivia’s eyes snapped up to meet his, loss, and a momentary spark of anger, before her esenyurt escort expression solidified into that expressionless mask he’d been seeing so much lately.
“No, no, Ry, don’t say that! I can’t explain it, you won’t understand, I just can’t …I can’t…”
“Can’t what, Livvie?” he asked her softly.
“I can’t take this all in…all this, a baby, our life, me always alone. You’re never here. Your work is all you need and you don’t need me anymore. You say you love me but I look in your eyes and I can see you’re lying! What happened to you, Ryan? What happened to us? Is it because I’m ugly, and fat, and you don’t need me now, because you’ve got what you always wanted, so you’re done with me, is that it? I tried looking good for you, I did everything I could to make you see me, but you didn’t, it was like I wasn’t even there, you never even noticed me, you ignored me, because I know you’re going to leave me soon. Why can’t you even be honest with me? I thought I earned at least that!”
Ryan stared at her in shock as she broke down, finally beginning to grasp what had been tumbling through her mind all this time, what it was that had been making her withdraw and pull away from him. This was serious; he had to go carefully here. He pulled her in close, his hands on either side of her face, holding her immobile as he looked deep into her eyes.
“Olivia Grainne McLeod, I would never, ever lie to you. There’s only one thing I want in this world, and that’s you; you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Every time I see you, you take my breath away, and all I can think of, first thing in the morning and last thing at night, is you.”
He stroked her cheek, his heart aching at the soft, silky smoothness.
“I want to lie next to you and hold you and kiss you for the rest of our lives, I want to make love to you every chance I get, I want to make babies in you for as long as you’ll have me. All I want, Livvie, baby-girl, is you. Always remember that, the only girl for me was always you, and no-one else, and now I’ve got you, the hordes of Hell are not going to drag me away from you!”
Livvie stared into his eyes, and two big tears welled-up and rolled down her cheeks.
“I don’t believe you Ryan, I don’t believe you, and I don’t trust you!” she whispered. “One day soon you’ll do that thing I know you want to do, you’ll go, and what about me, what about Jack, what about everything you promised me? You meant them once. I believed you and everything you said about us, but now I look at you and all I feel is afraid; every night I’m afraid that’s the night you’ll come home and tell me you’re done, that we’re over, that you’re leaving us with nothing, and there’s nothing I can do to stop you. Please tell me the truth Ryan; you used to, once upon a time, a long time ago, when you still had time for me and you…”
Ryan’s heart broke for the fear and pain he heard in her voice.
“Whatever it takes, whatever it is, we’ll find out how to beat this thing; I love you so much, Livvie, I need you; you’re my world, you always will be, and I need you beside me.”
As he held her, he hugged her close to him, her body stiff and unyielding, her hands clutching at his back like a drowning man clutching a lifeline, and he could feel the tremors in her body as she cried silently. Ryan brushed her hair with his hand, savouring the feel of the silky mane of hair that had once been her pride and joy, while his other arm held her close, the distance that had grown between them echoing and clanging with her pain and feelings of abandonment.
Finally, Livvie pulled away from him, almost wrenching herself away from him, hiding her face as she did so, but Ryan was having none of that, instead gently pulling her face up to his again, and dabbing at her eyes with his handkerchief.
“No, Ry, I look a mess, don’t look at me…” she protested, but Ryan smiled gently and continued dabbing. Even with her eyes reddened and puffy from crying, she was still the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. As he held her close, the hand around her waist slipped down as he steadied himself, and came to rest on her taut, rounded buttock. Livvie’s eyes widened as he involuntarily gave a gentle squeeze, and he immediately withdrew his hand.
“Sorry…sorry, I didn’t mean…” he stuttered, but Olivia smiled at him, the first genuine smile he’d seen in months.
“It’s …OK, Ry, it felt…nice, almost like you meant it again!” she murmured, her stunning green-hazel eyes losing their lacklustre dullness for a split second, before the loss and defeat settled into them again. Ryan looked into her eyes, seeing no belief in him, no trace of the life and sparkle those beautiful eyes had once held for him, and a hollow sickness sank into the pit of his stomach; she was already checked-out, he could see that clearly now; she’d made herself believe he was done with her, and now she was making herself believe she was done with him.
They made no attempt at further intimacy that avrupa yakası escort night, even though he’d held her close; Ryan could see she wasn’t able to respond to him in that way anymore, and to push it any further might push her even further away, and he might never be able to recover what little he had.
For the moment, he was happy to simply hold her, inhaling her scent and revelling in the warmth of her against him, treasuring the feel of her even though he knew now he’d lost her somewhere, and he didn’t know how or why, only that Livvie was gone, and he was holding a stranger.
Over the next few days, going by things she said, and did, it became more and more obvious that nothing had changed or was going to change; the walls she’d built were her best defence, and she was keeping them high and strong, protecting herself against the further hurt she knew with rock-solid certainty and without a shadow of a doubt was coming her way; her loss of faith, of vision and trust in Ryan was almost complete now, and they were continuing to fragment almost by the hour.
Ryan mentally sobbed in agony and loss as his world splintered and fell away, each jagged moment another rent in his heart. She was still clinging to all the misgivings and feelings of loss and betrayal. She still couldn’t let that go, and he didn’t know how to get through to her anymore.
Maybe some of her alienation had been his fault. Maybe she was right. Maybe he had spent too much time at work, but he had only done it for her, he rationalised, done it to make a better life for Livvie and Jack, and now that he was trying to reach out to her, she wouldn’t, couldn’t respond, because she was convinced his single-minded quest to reach the top was all that mattered to him; she was just collateral damage, as far as she was concerned.
With a sinking heart, and a dull stab of despair, he accepted that she didn’t believe in him anymore, and because of that, she didn’t believe in herself either. Livvie truly was losing herself in this, and losing him in the process. Her heart had convinced her this was so, that she’d been used, and now was about to be cast aside, and so she was pre-empting that loss, pushing him away before he did that to her, no longer able to connect with him, and unwilling to try, because it only meant more hurt.
Ryan spent the next few days in a haze, unable to concentrate on his work, thoughts of Livvie and the resigned acceptance of the pain she’d convinced herself was her lot, the pain he’d seen so clearly in her eyes uppermost in his mind; her comment that he was always working had struck home, and he began to question his own ways, his life outside the family, his reasons for coming to this place in the first place.
Granted, his job was important, and a major part of who he was, but was it worth sacrificing his life with the woman he loved, was it worth his family? Was he in fact destroying their present because he was only looking to their future?
Perhaps Livvie had been right to feel lost and used, bred by him to get the family he so desperately wanted, then abandoned, her part complete. Maybe she was right, she had been abandoned to endlessly lonely, dragging days, her life consisting of nothing but the baby and loneliness while he worked punishingly long hours miles from her, hardly a word passing between them for days on end, because he was too tired to listen to her, and too tightly focussed on bringing in his latest pet project on time and within budget.
Luckily his latest project, an advanced new weapon system code-named “Devastator”, was off the drawing boards and the prototype was away being tested. He was proud of his part in designing the autonomous RADAR-controlled, quad 30mm cannon array co-axial with a 30mm Phalanx-type CIWS and intelligent LASER Designator, designed to deliver an awesome close-range, missile-killing punch and be easily integrated into existing fire-control systems. It was a new weapon for the new century, designed to augment and support the changing role of the new, slimmer, more readily deployable Royal Navy.
The system was now at the Acceptance-Testing stage and was currently being put through its paces by the Royal Navy at Faslane in Scotland, so his desk was now clear; his part of the project, managing the design & build, was at an end pending the successful testing of the system, so his focus had inevitably shifted away from his role, and he had begun to prepare the specifications for the next major project.
Was that where he’d gone so wrong? Instead of decompressing, taking a little family time, maybe a long holiday, just the three of them, had his mistake been in leaping right back in to the punishing schedule he’d devised for himself? How in God’s name was he going to undo this knot he’d tied himself in, or was it already too late? Was their life together already over?
That thought alone jolted him like nothing ever had in his life; he’d done this, he’d anadolu yakası escort taken that beautiful, sparkling girl, who’d loved him deliriously, and hammered her flat under the weight of his ego, crushed the spirit and belief out of her with his neglect, and now look what was left…
He drifted like this for several days, running the things she’d said, and the things she’d left unsaid, through his mind over and over again. Now he understood what had brought this all into being, now it all made sense, and now it was probably already too late to salvage anything from the God-awful mess he’d made of their lives together.
They slept in the same bed, they lived in the same house, but they’d stopped communicating at even the most fundamental levels; she’d cut all ties with him, and the longer it went on, the deeper the hurt and the loss cut. There was nothing that seemed capable of breaching that barrier; he was losing her, maybe already had, and there seemed to be no solution.
The solution, when it finally came, literally came out of the blue. Chloë, Ryan’s secretary, had noticed the changes in him, and had increasingly seen less and less of Olivia over the last few months. She could feel that something was very wrong with Ryan and his beautiful wife, and, as she considered herself a friend of theirs, she could finally hold her silence no longer.
Her chance came when she found Ryan sitting alone in the staff restaurant, moodily picking at his lunch and staring blankly at the wall. She slid into the seat opposite him and tapped his hand, watching him start as he came back to reality with a bump. She leaned closer, so she was almost nose to nose with him.
“What’s going on, Ryan? Really?” she whispered. “I haven’t heard a word out of you in days; I haven’t seen Livvie in weeks; you roam around the halls like a lost soul; what the hell’s going on? Is it you and Livvie? Talk to me, Ryan!”
Ryan looked straight at her. She was shocked to see tears glittering in the corners of his eyes.
“It’s Livvie. She thinks we’re done. I made her think we were done. I don’t know how I managed to cock it all so completely, and now that’s all she thinks, and I don’t know how to get her back! What am I going to do, Chloë, without Livvie I have nothing, nothing!”‘
He looked directly at her and Chloë recoiled from the desperate, resigned, pain-filled stare.
“That was a lie, Chloë; even now I’m lying to myself, because I know exactly what’s wrong, and I don’t know how I could have done this…God, why was I so stupid!?”
Chloë’s own eyes filled in sympathy at his obvious distress; she knew just how much Ryan adored his wife, and she remembered Livvie as being almost as besotted with him; they could barely keep their hands off each other; what had gone so wrong?
She probed gently, asking questions about Livvie, about their home life, about her attitude towards Jack, and towards Ryan himself. Ryan, finally having someone to unburden himself to, found himself telling her more and more, the whole story coming out in a rush. Because she was a friend, and she was a good person, and he trusted her, he found himself telling her how he’d finally seduced Livvie and made her his, how he’d acted out her deepest fantasy for her, finally revealing himself and asking her to marry him.
Chloë was intrigued, not just by what he told her, but also by what he wasn’t telling her; there were gaps in the narrative that just didn’t make sense, so she probed deeper, reasoning that the only way she could help her friends was if she knew what was missing, what he wasn’t telling her, and how it had led to this.
There was no denying the fact that Ryan was a mess; this business between him and Livvie was eating him up inside. He’d lost track of what was going on around him; he moped around, he barely spoke, he drifted along like a lost soul, his eyes and mind far away and unfocussed, he signed anything that was put in front of him; if she hadn’t been bird-dogging him he’d be up on embezzlement charges right now as he’d innocently, unheedingly, signed requisitions and invoice approvals that people tried to slip past him, his concentration shot to pieces by whatever was going on in his life.
As she dug deeper, she began to put the pieces together. Ryan never spoke of his past life, before the Royal Navy; he seemed to have no past, no old friends, other than former naval colleagues, prior to coming to work at Northstar Naval Systems; he never spoke of his childhood, where he grew up, nothing, and neither did Livvie; she’d always deftly sidestepped questions asked by her few girlfriends here in Gosport about where and when she’d met such a gorgeous guy, and she too seemed to have no past and no life prior to coming to Gosport.
While they talked, the cafeteria slowly emptied, until at last they were alone, tucked away out of sight in the far corner, safe from prying eyes and twitching ears. Chloë decided to grasp the nettle.
“Ryan, you’re a man of mystery here; no-one knows anything about you; you share nothing, say even less, and Livvie’s exactly the same. Talk to me, Ryan! Who’s Livvie, Ryan? Where did you meet her? It’s only me here now, you can tell me. I can’t help you unless you tell me everything. We can’t fix this unless you’re completely honest with me, so tell me, Ryan, we’re friends, you can trust me.”
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