It was a lame reply, but what else could I say? It would be pointless to ask if he wanted to talk about it. He never did.
“I’m having them a lot lately,” he said wearily. “Every time I fall asleep.”
My heart hurt a little more. It seemed impossible that it could take so much pain, but there was always more. I’d learned that long ago.
“You’re stressed, Gideon. I’m not sleeping well, either.” And then, because it had to be said, “I miss you.”
“Eva . . .”
“Sorry.” I scrubbed at my eyes. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that.”
Maybe it was a mixed signal that would only make things worse for him. I felt guilty for staying away, even though I knew I had good reason to.
“No, I need to hear it. I’m scared, Eva. I’ve never felt fear like this. I’m afraid you won’t come back . . . that you won’t give me another chance.”
“I dreamed about my father at first. We were walking on the beach and he was holding my hand. I’ve been dreaming about the beach a lot lately.”
I swallowed hard, my chest aching. “Maybe that means something.”
“Maybe. I was little in the dream. I had to look up a long way to see my dad’s face. He was smiling, but then I always remember him smiling. Even though I heard him fighting with my mom a lot toward the end, I can’t remember any other expression on his face but a smile.”
“I’m sure you made him happy. And proud. He probably always smiled when he looked at you.”
He was quiet for a minute, and I thought maybe that was it. Then he went on. “I saw you up ahead on the beach, walking away from us.”
I rolled onto my side, listening intently.
“Your hair was blowing in the breeze and the sun lit it up. I thought it was beautiful. I pointed you out to my dad. I wanted you to turn your head so we could see your face. I knew you were gorgeous. I wanted him to see you.”
Tears welled in my eyes and slid down to wet my pillow.
“I tried to run after you. I was pulling at his hand and he was holding me back, laughing about chasing pretty girls at my age.”
I could picture the scene so clearly in my mind. I could almost feel the brisk breeze whipping through my hair and hear the seagulls calling. I could see the young Gideon in the picture he’d given me and the handsome, charismatic Geoffrey Cross.
I wanted a future like that. With Gideon walking down the beach with our son who looked just like him, my husband laughing because our troubles were behind us and a bright, happy future lay ahead of us.
But he’d called it a nightmare, so I knew that future I envisioned wasn’t one he saw.
“I was tugging so hard on his hand,” he continued, “digging my bare feet into the sand for traction. But he was so much stronger than me. You were walking farther and farther away. He laughed again. Only this time, it wasn’t his laugh. It was Hugh’s. And when I looked up again, it wasn’t my father anymore.”
“Oh, Gideon.” I sobbed his name, unable to hold back the sympathy and grief. And the relief that he was talking to me at last.
“He told me you didn’t want me, that you were going away because you knew everything and it made you sick. That you couldn’t get away fast enough.”
“That’s not true!” I sat up in bed. “You know that’s not true. I love you. It’s because I love you so much that I’m thinking so hard about this. Us.”
“I’m trying to give you space. But I feel like it would be so easy for us to drift apart. A day goes by, then another. You’ll find a new routine without me in it . . . Christ, Eva, I don’t want you to get over me.”
I spoke in a rush, my thoughts tumbling out of my mouth. “There’s a way to get through this, Gideon, I know there is. But when I’m with you I lose myself in you. I just want to be with you and to be happy, so I let things ride and put them off. We make love and I think we’ll be okay, because we have that and it’s perfect.”
“It is perfect. It’s everything.”
“When you’re inside me, looking at me, I feel like we can conquer anything. But we’ve really got to work on this! We can’t be afraid to deal with our baggage because we don’t want to lose each other.”
He growled softly. “I just want us to spend time together not dealing with all this other shit!”
“I know.” I rubbed at the pain in my chest. “But we have to earn it, I think. We can’t manufacture it by running away for a weekend or a week.”
“How do we earn it?”
I swiped at the tears drying on my cheeks. “Tonight was good. You calling me, telling me about your dream. It’s a good step, Gideon.”
“We’ll keep making steps, then. We have to keep moving together or we’re going to end up moving apart. Don’t let that happen! I’m fighting here, with everything I’ve got. Fight for me, too.”
My eyes stung with fresh tears. I sat for a while, crying, knowing he could hear me and that it was hurting him.
Finally, I swallowed the pain down and made a snap decision. “I’m going to that all-night café on Broadway and Eighty-fifth for coffee and a croissant.”
He was silent for a long minute. “What? Now?”
“Right now.” I tossed back the covers on the bed and slid to the floor.
Then he got it. “Okay.”