To know Phoebe is to...
Part 3:Keeping it in the Family
Cole went onto the porch ahead of Phoebe. She stopped at the porch edge and he turned to her and because he was down a couple of steps he was on eye level with her.
“Are you coming back with me?“ he said, knowing the answer.
“No“ she said, “I’m pissed at you. You didn’t have a right to make those choices for me“
“You don’t have the right to make those choices for me“ he said, “I’m pissed at you.“
He smiled the smile he saved for her as he looked straight into big brown loving eyes “Phoebe you do know this is the last chance don’t you?“ he said “This time we have to stick it.“
“I’m counting on it“ she said leaning over to kiss him so he had top catch her or she would fall. She assumed he would.
He finally put he down on the steps an looked down at her “I’m still pissed at you” he said.
“I’m still pissed at you“ she said. She looked up smugly “You are going to really try to get on with my family aren’t you?“ she asked “because I can make your life hell if you don’t.“ She turned and stalked away only softening it by turning back to glance coyly over her shoulder at him.
Cole knew Phoebe. He knew she could keep her last promise.
Cole watched her run inside and slowly walked down the manor steps where he stopped and looked at the place. Strange the reality of getting what you wanted. They should have been in each other’s arms declaring undying passion and love, making for the nearest bed but there he was outside the manor again while his witch was once again away from him with her family.
He sat in the car for a while and then drove his car back to his apartment and shimmered to a beach he knew in Mexico. He sat in the dark listening to the waves and feeling the salt in the air around him. It occurred to him that disappearing to beaches in the middle of the night was not going to be a choice for a very long time and he felt some sense of regret.
Phoebe rang him and he answered it but told her he was pissed at her and finished the call. She called again and he answered very sharply that he was really pissed at her and cut the call. He listened to the waves and the noises of night birds and the crashing sound and very slowly calmed down a little. Phoebe rang back in about ten minutes. He started to say not quite as angrily that he was pissed and she cut him off saying anxiously “Cole?”
“What?“ he said.
“You are going to come on the weekend, I mean move in?“ she said without any real certainty in her voice.
He was silent for a second as he heard Phoebe draw a tight breath “You know damned well I’m going to do anything you want just to be with you” he snarled "and I’m still pissed at you“ and this time he turned the phone off
Cole mused that getting what you want could kill the fantasy. What he got was not just Phoebe but all the baggage that came with Phoebe. He didn’t just get the girl he got the family and her life and the arguments and doubts and the distrust. But he did get Phoebe.
He stared at the water and thought of the life head. Nervously. They had shared many things, he and Phoebe, fate, war between good and evil, passion, huge soul wrenching emotion and now they got to share a life as long as she had one, but he put that thought away. They got to share a small ordinary, well pretend, ordinary life.
He sat on the beach alone. And then it hit him that he would be a long time before he was alone again, that he was being forced into manege of people demanding, bickering, sharing whether he wanted to or not, part of, god forbid, a family. He laughed to himself at the expression on Phoebe’s sister‘s and Leo’s faces when he walked in. Phoebe had done a good job on screwing them as much as screwing him. It was a pleasant thought.
Phoebe went to bed that night a very happy and contented girl; a slightly sexually frustrated one but she had time ahead of her for that. She was alone in that bed for the last time. Since divorcing Cole she had wanted to get rid of that bed but somehow had never quite brought herself to do it, now she was glad she hadn’t. Poor Cole he was so bewildered about it all. She smiled happily at his expression in that fight, caught between confusion, anger and love. Because he did love her, the demon, ex had walked through hellfire for her, came back from the dead for her, was willing to put up the screwing she did to him. Because he loved her. “Well you’ve got what you wanted Mr Turner” she said out loud “and good luck to you.” She put her hand to her mouth and blew him a kiss before she went to sleep.
The next day Phoebe rang him at work. He told her he was still pissed at her and she told him to get off it.
“And did you have a pleasant chat with your family after I left?“ Cole asked nastily.
“My family know me“ Phoebe said wondering what his problem was. “They love me. They want me to be happy. There was never a problem. You should trust me. “
She ignored Cole’s derisive snort. She said she had decided they could spend the next two nights at his apartment cleaning it up and packing.
“You’ve decided have you?” he said dryly.
“Yes“ she said “I’ll meet you at the manor after work so you can swap cars with Piper. We’ll need hers to move your stuff“ Phoebe said.
“Yeah sure, swap cars with Piper got it“ he said even drier.
“And you’ll have to get a baby harness fitted in your car in case Piper needs to go out with Melinda“ Phoebe added.
“Baby harness sure thing, got it“ he said.
“Love you“ Phoebe said “and Cole stop being an arsehole.“
“Sure thing. Stop being an arsehole.“ he said “Got it“ then relented a little and added “Love you“ as she hung up.
“Things not going well with your..ah wife?“ Francesca asked.
“Why, am I being erratic again?“ he asked irritably.
“No a pain in the butt“ Francesca answered.
“Things are going to damned well“ Cole answered. He sat on the visitor’s chair. “Phoebe wants me to move back in with her“ he said.
“What’s the problem, to soon?“ Francesca asked.
“To soon, to late, just right, its doesn’t matter for a lot of reasons I’m not going into, I can’t, I won’t ask her to leave her family and it seems the only way we can live together is if I move in with them.“ he said sadly.
“Are you sure its worth it?“ Francesca asked with an air of disinterest.
Cole nodded but he was not happy.
Francesca finally asked carefully “This sudden rush to be back with your wife, I have noticed you know, you’ve been alone since I started working for you and suddenly, she’s there, telling you that to do, taking charge, making decisions. Are sure this is what you want? Look I’m trying not to interfere.“ and she ignored Cole’s incredulous expression “All you’ve done lately is wander around not sure where you are and you could just wake up and find out maybe it isn’t where you ought to be.“
He smiled “You mean I might wake up one day and find out that I’m stuck with bossy little madam who won’t understand that I might want something different to her; who thinks the solution to every problem is 4 hours of talking or sex; who takes herself to seriously or not seriously enough; who can leave you speechless because she is so guileless or because she spouts out unbelievable insight and you never know which one you are going to get. Sometimes both in the same sentence. “
“Something like that” Francesca conceded.
“I know Phoebe“ he said with a warmth in his voice that Francesca could recognise as only one thing “She demands, she holds me to account“ and the smile the one that he saved for Phoebe crossed his face “it saved me. “ Then he added “To know Phoebe is to love her, damn her. “
“The pair of you deserve each other“ said Francesca sardonically.
Phoebe made Cole spend Saturday, cleaning the apartment, getting clothes and linen laundered and packing. She happily emptied closets and drawers and made him pack up work papers and law books and return them to his office. She found the drawer full of scarves, trinkets and jewellery that he had brought back as presents for her, from all the beaches he had run to in the last year to escape his pain. She demanded to know what they were and when Cole awkwardly and uncomfortably explained, Phoebe ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. He lifted her and she planted a huge kiss on his lips and whispered I love you. She spent a happy hour trying on scarves, and earrings and bracelets and pendants while Cole spent an even happier hour, packing law papers and watching her play with the toys he bought her.
She found another box and put all the trinkets in it. She put the box beside the suitcases they had already packed. “Phoebe’s pile“ she said firmly. Cole smiled happily. He was smiling less happily when he realised by the time they finished packing, Phoebe’s pile included all his linen, half his books, all his CD’s and four of his T-shirts. He thought he was lucky she had not thought of a reason to claim ownership of his suits.
Saturday night was the last night in Cole’s apartment. Cole and Phoebe had a wild, wild party for the two of them. To much food, to much alcohol, to much sex. Their last night of being lovers, the end and the beginning.
They woke up the next morning in a tangle of arms and legs. Cole managed to disentangle himself and sit up “Oh shit“ he said falling back on the pillow “Remind me never to do that again“ he said.
“Why not“ Phoebe demanded sitting up “Oh shit“ she said falling back on the pillow.
They looked at each other and laughed and then stopped “Don’t make me laugh“ Cole bit out. Phoebe dragged herself to straddle him “Don’t "he said "I mean it. Don’t. Please. Phoebe. Be nice. Phoebe. Be good. Phoebe. Please. Be kind.“ he begged.
They showered and decided coffee was good enough for breakfast. Phoebe stripped the bed and packed the last things from the kitchen while Cole took boxes and suitcases down to the car. He came back and Phoebe took a last check to see nothing had been left behind. Cole did not bother. He just pressed the elevator button.
The elevator came and Cole picked up the last suitcase and went in. Phoebe followed him, carrying the box from the kitchen. Cole pressed the garage button and leaned against the side of the elevator. Phoebe leaned against the other.
A second a later he sighed “Going back”
Phoebe smiled gently and answered “Going forward”
“Going somewhere“ he said then with the smile he saved for her added “with you.“
“Together“ she answered stretching her free hand to him. He took it as the elevator arrived at the garage, then he picked up the suitcase and they walked to the car still holding hands. The bell on the elevator rang and the door shut but neither bothered to look back.
On a beach in Ireland so many years in the future, a man sat alone, blue eyes reflected green in the sea light, not a young face nor old face but one that carried the memory of ages. He watched the sea as he lived his memories, looking backward because he had not, thank god, been afflicted with the knowledge of the future. He only had the gift of memory.
could live off the memories of the things she had brought him, the joy and pain,
small things, games and jokes and shared moments, anger and laughter, memories
of a lifetime together, memories of how she had brought him hope, fulfilment,
peace, a never ending sense of belonging.
sighed and smiled, the smile he saved for her, the memory of love so brief, only
one small life time so many years ago, so real and as clear to him as yesterday.
The memory of love was enough to face an eternity alone.