Lise stood in the doorway of the bathroom, moving her left hand slightly in the light spilling out over her shoulder into the bedroom, wanting to hate herself for her “girly” fascination with the ring on her finger, but unable to stop the smile from forming on her face as she watched the facets of the sapphire glitter and glow in the soft yellow light of the bathroom fixtures.
A soft chuckle from the bed caused her to look up at Cooper, and ask “And just what are YOU laughing at, mister?”
Without missing a beat, Cooper said “I’m not laughing, I’m chuckling, and you should probably not pay me any mind.”
Her right eyebrow arched as her left eye narrowed, as she playfully asked “And why is that?”
“Because I am not ashamed to admit that I am distracted right now.”
“And what would have you so distracted that I shouldn’t pay attention to your behavior?”
He smiled broadly and replied “Because that mischievous look and that ring are the only things you’re wearing at the moment.”
She walked the few paces to the bed where she pulled the sheet back and said “Let’s see how distracted you are,” before stopping and hoping that in the low light, Cooper couldn’t see the flush she felt coming to her cheeks. “Oh,” she exclaimed, regaining some of her composure. “Now I’M distracted, and I think we should do something about that.” she said as she climbed into the bed and pulled the covers up over both of them.
An hour and half later, Lise felt sleep coming for her as she spooned Cooper’s reclining form, and was thinking that she should get a few hours sleep before waking him up again when she realized that although his breathing was measured and shallow, he was not asleep. She opened her eyes and saw that him staring into somewhere that was a million miles away from the warm bed and her warmer embrace.
“Penny for your thoughts?” she asked pensively. If he heard her, he gave no indication of it. She raised her head from his chest, and her voice with it. “Yoo hoo! Earth to Cooper!”
His eyes remained on the unseen as he almost absent-mindedly said “Sorry.” She waited for a further explanation that didn’t come, before the question in her eyes came tumbling out of her mouth. “Sorry for what?”
He turned and his eyes came into focus on her face. “Sorry, I was just thinking that I have to talk to Jake about this…about us…tomorrow.”
“Oh.” she replied. “Do you think we should do it together?”
“No,” he said. “I should do it.”
“Do you think it will be a problem?” she asked.
“I don’t know if “problem” is the right word. He likes you,probably more than even Rick, and I don’t think he’ll object to you being around a lot more. It’s just that it’s been just him and I for so long. While this…you…Rick.. have kind of “expanded” his circle, I’m just not sure what his reaction will be.”
Lise reflected on their first meeting, and how Cooper was clearly protective of the young man, but not stiflingly so, and how obviously the young man relied on Cooper in a number of unsaid ways. The surveillance footage from the few weeks prior to contact showed an unusually strong bond between the father and the son, but not one that was completely unexpected considering the life they had lived since fleeing their home.
“Is it his mother?” Lise asked.
Cooper didn’t answer right away. “I really don’t know,” he finally said. “We have never really discussed her. I suppose under other circumstances, it might be unusual that she left one morning, we never saw her again, and the issue of her has never once come up, but on the other hand, I think even he understood that she was never coming back…that nothing would bring her back. And it isn’t like you would be taking her place, at least not in any way that he would recognize. I guess I’m just afraid of the questions he might ask, because I’m not sure how I’ll answer them, or even if I want to answer them. But I have to be the one to do it. It will probably be fine, but I guess it’s more about my fears about what he might ask than how he will actually react.”
Lise climbed on top of Cooper, leaned forward, and kissed him slowly, before drawing back and saying “I think that he’s been damn lucky to have you looking out for him, and that you will find the right words to help him deal with any questions he might have.” Then she kissed him again, and again, as once more, Cooper felt the now familiar stirrings urging him to lose himself in the love of this woman whom he couldn’t imagine his life without now.
Three hours later, he slowly and gently pulled away from Lise’s slumbering body, and quietly got dressed before heading down to the kitchen, where he knew he would find Jake eating breakfast.