Three weeks later……
Cole unceremoniously picked up Yasmine, and laughing, carried her into their new, fully furnished apartment in San Mushyno.
The first thing they did after he put her down was to hang their diplomas on the wall, making it their home.
Yasmine would begin her job on Monday, having landed a coveted position with one of the top advertising agencies in the country. She would be in sales and marketing, a perfect fit for her. Cole still had another week to get settled before he started with the veterinary clinic where he had found a position.
Cole looked out the window as they walked though the apartment. He had forgotten how beautiful the city was from a high rise. Now he was ready to make happy memories in San Myshuno with the woman he loved. No longer would it be where he had so horribly broken up with Laney, but where he and Yasmine began their life together.
He poured them both a glass of wine from the small bar that was setup in the dining area. “Have I told you how proud I am of you and how much I love you?”
Yasmine laughed. He loved her laugh. “Not today. Tell me again.”
“You first,” said Cole. He could never hear it enough from her.
“I love you. My blue-eyed teddy bear.”
“Teddy bear? I’ll show you teddy bear,” he growled. He put his glass on the table, then pulled her face to his and kissed her soundly. “
After they broke apart, he took her hand and started towards their bedroom. She suddenly stopped him. “Cole, we can have sex anywhere now,” she reminded him playfully, “There’s no one to walk in on us.”
Fuckkkk…yes! thought Cole. He stopped dead in his tracks and pulled off his shirt.
The last three months in San Myshuno had been amazing. Cole loved his job and his life. Yasmine was doing extremely well at the advertising agency and he was thoroughly enjoying finally being a practicing vet.
They both worked long hours so their evenings were often spent with take out, a bottle of wine and making love. She loved talking about her day as much as he loved hearing her stories. He didn’t mind fast food either, as long as Yasmine was dessert.
Cole worked on Saturdays, since the newbie had to take the weekend shift. But on Sundays, they would try to do something special. Whether it was a home cooked meal and a movie or going to the spice market for something different.
When August snuck up on Yasmine, it hit her hard. Her life had been going so well and when she realized it was Angie’s birthday, she felt physically ill. She knew she wouldn’t be able to work, so she called in sick. Cole, of course, wanted to stay with her. Yasmine had to put on a brave face and insist she was okay for him to leave her alone. She needed private time to talk to Angie. Still, he said he would come home early to spend the rest of the afternoon with her.
Cole was so good to her that it made her feel even worse, and as soon as he walked out the door, she broke down and cried.
After she regained control of herself, she took a deep breath and went inside the tiny office space that Cole had grudgingly, but sweetly allowed her to have. She lovingly pulled out Angie’s pink scrapbook from the drawer, where it was locked away. Angie would be five years-old today and already starting kindergarten. Her heart broke a little more, knowing she wasn’t the one taking her to her very first day of school.
“Angie,” she said, as she flipped through the few pictures she had of her little girl, tears freely rolling down her face, “Happy birthday baby. I hope the Bailey’s love you as much as I do, and made today special for you. If they are anything like Cole’s adopted mother, then they most assuredly did.
“You would like Cole,” she said and sighed. “I have fallen in love with him, and it frightens me. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help it. Cole must be the sweetest and most generous man alive. And I know it frustrates him because I haven’t told him about you. I just couldn’t. But now, things are different. And I think, maybe I should.
“It’s selfish of me not to. Everything I do is selfish I think. I selfishly gave you away so it wouldn’t mess up my parent’s life and by extension mine. And I keep this room so I can selfishly hide away and talk to you. Being with Cole has made me see that.”
She sighed again as she thought of Cole. “Angie, that sweet man, he asked me to marry him,” she continued through her tears, “I foolishly said yes. He planned it all out. He had a ring and got down on one knee and everything. It was so perfect. He is so kind and good. And that is why I couldn’t tell him what I did. He thinks I’m good too. But I’m not. And selfishly, I want to keep him. But if I tell him, I don’t think he will want me anymore, so I’m terrified. But, I know I have to do it. It’s not fair to him to keep you secret any longer.
“You know, I graduated magna cum laude in my class. I worked really hard for you and my parents, mostly for you. They were happy, I guess, since they sent me a nice check. I’m working now too, and I’m very good at my job. That’s why I couldn’t go to work today. I might have messed up thinking about you, and I can’t afford to mess it up. Messing that up is not an option. So, baby girl, next year it might just be you and me again after I tell him about you. But, I can’t tell him today, not on your birthday. But later, when everything is back to normal, I will.”
She gently closed the book and rubbed the top of it with love. “Happy Birthday baby girl.”
She tucked the scrapbook away in the drawer and felt sick. Sicker than she had in a long time. Maybe it was because she had said yes to Cole, and now she knew she had to tell him. She didn’t really deserve his love, not with this horrible secret. She would tell him. Just not today.
Yasmine decided to lie down on the couch and try to nap until Cole got home. She was exhausted from crying. Maybe if she slept she wouldn’t cry the rest of the day away. Only a few more hours until he was there, and maybe he would help take away her pain.
Cole got home at lunchtime. When he found Yasmine still in her night shirt, lying on the couch, his worry kicked up a notch. He leaned over and smoothed her hair. “I’m home babe. How are you doing?” he asked softly.
She sat up on the couch and sighed. “I’ve been better,” she said sounding bitter. Cole sat next to her. “Yasmine,” he said softly, “please tell me what I can do to help you. Tell me what is wrong.”
She looked at him and smiled a sad little smile. “You can take me out,” she suggested, “Let’s go dancing. That will help. Distract me, please.”
Cole reluctantly agreed to go out. He would rather have stayed home and talked it out. But at least it would get her out of her pajama’s. And maybe, if she had a drink or two and relaxed, then she would feel more comfortable talking to him about whatever had happened that tears her up inside.
At the bar, Yasmine was starting to get drunk. That’s not what Cole had hoped she would do. Finally, when she ordered a fourth drink in a short amount of time, he’d had enough. He insisted that they leave, upsetting her, but she went with him anyway.
She was silent all the way home, sulking in her seat. When they walked into the apartment, she didn’t go to their bed like he expected. Instead, without saying a word, she went into her tiny office and closed the door, shutting him out once again.
Cole sat alone in the living room, dumbfounded, waiting for her to come out. He decided since they hadn’t really lived together before, maybe he hadn’t really understood the gravity of her problem.
She had never left him alone like this before. But maybe, he just didn’t see it, and she had spent time in her room and then come to him afterwards. Regardless, it was getting harder and harder to accept that she wouldn’t trust him.
Fortunately, after only 30 minutes, she came out. She let out a little squeal when she saw him sitting there in the dark. “I thought you would be in bed,” she said, “You frightened me.”
Cole flipped on the light and turned to face her. She had obviously been crying. He didn’t care. He was angry and hurt that she wouldn’t let him help her. “I was waiting for you!” he said, his words harsh, filled with anger and pain. “You were trying to get drunk, then went in there, without even a single word to me. You shut me out and I was worried about you!”
“I’m not drunk!” she yelled.
“No, but you were well on your way. If I hadn’t made you leave, I would have had to carry you home!” retorted Cole.
His anger only seemed to fuel hers. “What’s wrong with you? You never act like this! Especially today! Please, just – don’t!”
Cole was beyond frustrated. “Why won’t you trust me enough to let me in?” he ground out through gritted teeth, “What’s so damn special about today Yasmine? Wanna clue me in?”
She sucked in a deep breath. “None of your business. It’s my cross to bear. So just fucking leave it alone. I thought you understood!” Yasmine had began to cry again as she turned and went back into her tiny office and slammed the door.
Cole didn’t know what to do. She was being so unreasonable. He knew he probably shouldn’t have challenged her, especially after she had so much to drink.
He sighed deeply before he walked to the door and knocked on it. “Yasmine. Sweetheart. I’m sorry. Please – come out.”
“Go away,” came the choked response from the other side of the door.
Cole leaned into the door in frustration. “No! I’m staying here all night if I have to, so DEAL with it!” he yelled back through the door.
The door opened and Yasmine fell into his arms crying. “You would, wouldn’t you? Stay here all night?”
“Of course I would,” he said gently as he stroked her hair, “I love you and I’m sorry. I just want to make it easier for you is all.”
She looked up at him, her big brown eyes sad and still tinged red from crying. “You do make it easier,” she said, her words so soft he almost didn’t hear them. She swallowed hard before continuing. “You help by just being here. You make me feel normal and loved. I’m so sorry for getting angry. Please, Cole. Please forgive me.”