On Saturday morning, I wake up and immediately want to groan. We’re leaving today, our perfect tropical vacation is over.
This week has been incredible. I’ve gone hiking through the tropical forest, snorkeling around a beautiful coral reef, deep sea fishing on an amazing luxury yacht, ridden jet skis, had a massage on a pristine white beach, and even, with the gentle encouragement of Christian, gone parasailing. Flying a thousand feet over the water with Christian by my side was just extraordinary. I’m usually so terrified of heights I can hardly handle climbing a ladder, but the comfort of his hand in mine and the obscenely beautiful view of French Polynesia from the sky was too much to pass up, and I loved every second of it.
Christian has been amazing this week, loving and attentive as always but also extremely understanding. As much as I loved experiencing all these new things with him, I also wanted to spend a good deal of time with my Mom. This vacation has really made me see how much I feel the need to have family around after these last few months, and, though I’ll always be grateful to the Greys for their welcoming acceptance of me and will always hold love for them deep in my heart, there just isn’t a replacement for your own mother.
So, while I spent time exploring the little town on the island and relaxing at the spa with my mom, Christian took Mia swimming, or out on the jet skis, or surfing, something I tried once and failed at immediately, devastatingly, in a way that I will never stand on a surf board ever again. I did, however, love laying out on our back deck with my mom, Kate, and Grace, sipping tropical drinks and watching Christian dedicate time to his little sister. He’s always so light with her, like the worries of not getting his business started in the time frame he created for himself, or school, or any of the drama we seem to be constantly facing is lifted off his shoulders and, for a few minutes, he can just be nineteen and have fun.
There were times when we were able to get away just the two of us, much to Elliot’s chagrin. We’ve taken walks on the beach at sunset, had dinner alone at a different resort on the other side of the island, and even one full afternoon just a ways down our own beach, laying out on the sand and swimming together in the water. It’s been perfect, and the sex… The sex has never been better. He told me when we first arrived that he wanted to indulge in me over and over again, and he has. Sometimes hard and rough, other times slow and sensual, but every time completely mind altering. I keep waiting for the time to come when we settle into our routines as a couple and our sex life starts to fizzle a little, not flaming out entirely, but also not burning with the fiery red passion that it has since New Year’s. That hasn’t happened though. Months into our relationship and still, every time, I want him as badly as I did the very first time he ever kissed me.
I take a deep breath and stretch as best I can wrapped tightly in Christian’s arms. My movement stirs him awake and he makes a low, appreciative sound, and squeezes me tighter.
“Mmm,” He moans. “Good morning.”
“Good Morning,” I tell him, turning around and giving him a kiss. “Do we really have to go back today? Can’t we just stay here forever?”
“As tempting as that is, I don’t think you’d get a lot of homework done if there were beach massages and pina coladas available every day.”
“Who needs a degree when you have paradise?” I shrug, and he laughs.
“You do,” He says, and he stretches once and then rolls out of bed. “Come on, get up. Let’s go get breakfast so we can enjoy the water one last time before we have to pack.”
“Okay,” I say mournfully and I roll out of bed, put on a bikini, and wrap a sarong around my waist. It’s my last day here and I want to soak up as much of the warm sun as I can before returning to the chilly spring air of Cambridge.
When Christian and I head down stairs, we find that Kate and Mia have already left to meet the rest of the Greys and only Elliot is left in the house. He’s having trouble finding his shoe and when I get a peak of his room, I see why. Apparently Kate isn’t the only messy one and the two of them together, over the course of an entire week, have left their room a disaster. Christian stares at the mess disapprovingly, but waits for Elliot to find his sandal, which was somehow on the small table across from the bed underneath a t-shirt. Together we walk down the dock to the resort on the beach and find the rest of the family sitting on an outdoor patio, a spread of fresh fruit, pastries, and different juices laid out in front of them.
“Good morning,” Grace says, smiling at us. She seems to be the only one in a good mood. The faces of everyone around us reflect the same mourning I feel for this dream vacation coming to a close. We eat in silence, picking at our food and staring longingly out at the ocean view. I want to have this view permanently burned into my memory.
“Mr. Grey,” A hotel employee asks, coming up to stand next to Carrick. “This has just arrived for you.”
“Thank you,” Carrick replies, taking the thick manila envelope from the employee.
“Is that the bill?” Grace asks, only half interested and she drains the last of her grapefruit juice.
“No, it’s for work,” Carrick says. He lifts the tab on the envelope but merely peaks inside instead of pulling the contents out.
“Carrick, we’ll be back home tomorrow. Couldn’t this have waited?” Grace asks.
“No, I needed Christian for this part,” He replies distractedly, and as he flips through the contents of the envelope, he gets to something that he seems to find unsettling and his eyes close and his lips purse together as if he’s taking a moment to prepare himself. When he finally opens his eyes again, he looks directly at Grace.
“Sweetheart, why don’t you start getting packed, and make sure the kids are ready to go. We can all swim one last time before we leave, maybe even take another ride on the jet skis.”
“What is that?” Grace asks, now looking suspiciously at the envelope in Mr. Grey’s hands.
“It’s nothing, really.”
“It’s about Elena, isn’t it?” Grace asks, and Carrick’s change in facial expression gives him away. “I want to see it.”
“No, you really don’t,” Carrick argues.
“Yes, I do!” Grace retorts.
“No, Grace. You really don’t,” Carrick says with finality. “Trust me. There are some things in here I need to go over with Christian, some… pictures, and you really, really don’t want to see them.”
I feel Christian tense next to me.
“Pictures?” He asks, the trepidation in his voice clear.
“Yes,” Carrick says, and he turns back to his wife. “Please Grace, just take the kids back to their rooms and get packed. I’ll be there to help shortly.”
Grace hesitates for a moment, looking as though she’s trying to decide if she really wants to face what’s in that envelope, but eventually, she nods and asks Elliot and Mia to come with her. Everyone stands from the table and I don’t blame them. The atmosphere around the table is already uncomfortable as I’m sure everyone, despite their best efforts, is imagining what’s in that envelope.
I too stand up, but Christian reaches out to grab my hand.
“Where are you going?” He asks, and I hesitate at the worried look in his eyes. Does he want me to stay? I told him I’d be here for him during all of this but… can I really face this?
“Christian, I don’t think I can handle pictures,” I tell him. “Hearing about it is difficult enough, but seeing it is a different thing entirely.”
He frowns, but nods, and releases my hand. I lean down and kiss him on the cheek. As I walk away, I hear his dad pull the papers out of the envelope and pass them to Christian. When I get back to the bungalow I have to take a brief moment to stop at the door and catch my breath. All sorts of horrible images were running through my mind the entire way back from the restaurant and it takes me a second to clear my head.
One more month. I tell myself. One more month and she’ll be behind bars and out of our lives forever.
These words center me enough that I can take a deep breath, relax, and head up the stairs to pack. I put everything back into my suitcase except a wet bag, a change of clothes, and a hair brush so that I can join the others in one last swim and have a shower before we have to leave for the airport. Once I’m finished packing, Christian still hasn’t returned. I can hear Kate, Elliot, and Mia splashing around outside and I debate whether to join them or wait for Christian to get back. Ultimately, I decide Christian may want me here when he gets back so instead of joining the others, I move to the other side of the bed, pull out his suitcase and begin packing for him.
I leave the same things out of his suitcase that I did mine, feeling a heartwarming kind of thrill that I’m picking out what he’ll be wearing for the rest of the day. Finally, as I pull the zipper on his suitcase closed, I hear his footsteps thudding up the stairs.
“Hey,” I say, turning to look at him, examining his face for signs of distress.
“Hey,” He replies, and he immediately wraps me tightly in his arms.
“How was it?” I ask.
“What uh… What were the pictures of?” I continue, not really sure I want to know the answer, but also wanting to give him the opportunity to talk if he needs it.
“Mr. Lincoln sent Dad some pictures of Elena’s playroom and he wanted me to confirm everything in the photographs belonged to her and had been used before he sent them off to the prosecutor’s office.”
“What’s a playroom?”
“It’s uh… a room with implements for practicing BDSM sex.” He says awkwardly.
“Oh,” I reply, cringing slightly. “I’m sorry. That must have been really awkward.”
“Awkward? No, I’ve always dreamed of having an intimate sit down conversation with my father to discuss the differences between whips and floggers and the exact purpose of a Queening Bench,” He says sarcastically. I blanch slightly at his reaction, not because of his tone but because of the images whips and floggers bring back to the front of my mind: Christian, handcuffed to a wooden post while Elena hits him again and again, the room echoing the loud crack of her whip.
“I’m sorry,” Christian says quickly. I look up at him and he’s running his hands through his hair, something I’ve noticed he does when he’s stressed or frustrated. “You were right to leave back there. I shouldn’t be talking about these things with you.”
“No, it’s fine. I want to be there for you,” I tell him, but even I don’t feel the conviction of my words with how weak my voice is. Christian looks around the room for something distracting and his eyes fall on the bed behind me.
“You packed for me?” He asks.
“Yeah, everyone’s already out there and it was taking you a while to get back so I thought it would be faster if I just got your stuff together for you.”
He smiles down at me. “Thank-you.”
“Do you want to go swimming?” He asks, and I smile up at him and nod, glad the BDSM tension has dissipated from the room. I cross back over to my side of the bed, pull out a bottle of sunscreen, and begin rubbing the lotion on my skin while Christian pretends not to watch me as he changes into a swimsuit. I’m wearing the dreaded yellow bikini, which I thought was all wrong for my skin tone. It doesn’t look bad now though as I’ve definitely darkened a few shades since we’ve arrived. Christian pulls up his trunks and begins doing the fly, and I bite down on my lip trying to stop the question I know I don’t really want to ask but that has been nagging at me since he brought it up.
“What’s a Queening Bench?” I ask, not looking at him as the words come out of my mouth.
“Uh… You said you had to explain the purpose of a Queening Bench. I don’t know what that is.”
“It’s a ben… You know, we really don’t have to talk about it anymore. I’m fine,” He promises me.
“Oh, okay,” I say, taking a towel off the hook by the bathroom door, but the nagging curiosity is still there. I close my eyes, curse my apparent proclivity to masochism, and turn to Christian again. “Except, well… It’s bugging me now, the Queening Bench thing, and if you don’t tell me, I’m probably going to Google it when we get home and the internet might not be as… discreet as you would be.”
“Well…” He hesitates.
“If you really don’t want to tell me, if it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to. Forget about it,” I say, shaking my head and feeling embarrassed by my inquisition.
“No, it’s um… Well it’s a bench about 2 ½ or 3 feet tall and it’s shaped like a ‘T’. You lay down on it so that your, uh… partner can, um… settle themselves down on your face,” He says awkwardly.
“Oh,” I reply, immediately feeling the regret. Maybe the pictures that would’ve surely popped up on the internet would have been better than the images my brain automatically conjures up of Elena and Christian. No, those would have come anyway. I should have just let it go.
“Ready?” Christian asks, trying desperately to move on from the subject.
“Yeah,” I reply, shaking away the queasiness that is beginning to grip my stomach. I reach out for his hand, and he leads me down the stairs and to the back deck.
I discovered my second day here that the deck is a lot higher off the water than I anticipated and the clear water below makes it very difficult to tell where the water level is, which of course makes it look even higher than it is when looking down. So the very first time I tried to leap from the deck like Kate, Elliot, Christian, and even Mia, my stomach seized with panic and I had to climb down the ladder and ease myself in. Elliot has been hounding me about being able to parasail, but not jump off the back deck, but I don’t know if he understands the difference between simply being up high, and having to force yourself to jump off of something. I’ve tried to do it twice more since that first time, but my fear of heights is insurmountable in this case, so I gave up. Now, as we head out to join Kate and Christian’s siblings for one last swim, I walk over to the ladder while Christian performs a graceful swan dive, managing to splash both Kate and Elliot as he hits the water.
We spend about an hour swimming around the deck. I watch, fascinated, as Christian and Kate compete for most impressive dive, while Elliot preforms cannonball after cannonball, seemingly with the sole intention of nearly drowning both Mia and I. After Christian challenges Kate with a backflip off the deck, she climbs the ladder, and with the grace of an Olympic diver, leaps into the air and folds her body into an inward 1 1/2 somersault pike dive. Her body is straight as an arrow when she enters the water and the splash is so subtle, you would think a fish had simply come to the surface and plunged back down again.
“Really?” Christian asks with disbelief when she reemerges with a smug smile on her face.
“Oh, did I forget to mention that I was on the diving team in high school?” She asks innocently, and Christian rolls his eyes.
“Kids!” Grace calls from somewhere up above. “I’ve got drinks and snacks up here if you want. We’re going to start taking the jet skis back.”
We swim over to the ladder and Elliot and Mia fight over who gets to climb up first. Elliot tries to use brute strength to peel his sister away, but she grips onto the metal handles so tightly, Elliot isn’t able to budge her. Christian swims forward, grips Elliot tightly, and heaves him backwards into the water so that Mia can go first and they both continue to wrestle around and force each other under water as Kate and I make our way up to the deck.
“Enough, boys!” Grace calls, laying out a few sandwiches and bottles of water on the back table for us.
“How long do we have?” Mia asks.
“About another hour and a half,” Grace says. Christian and Elliot come up the ladder laughing as they continue to playfully shove one another and Grace turns her attention to them. “Where are the keys to your jet skis?”
“On the table in the living room,” Elliot says, reaching down and taking a huge bite out of one of the sandwiches. She smiles and nods, and then disappears back into the house while we settle down and for lunch.
“We’ve got an hour left.” Mia says, wiping her mouth with a napkin and forcing her last bite down before running back to the edge of the deck.
“Shouldn’t you wait a few minutes before you go swimming?” Kate calls after her, but the only answer she receives is the splashing noise of Mia hitting the water.
“Waiting is for sissies.” Elliot says, draining his water bottle. “Let’s go.”
Kate rolls her eyes but can’t keep the smile off her face as she stands from her chair and walks purposefully to the end of the deck and performs another spectacular dive.
“Do you want to keep swimming?” I ask, turning to Christian but he’s already standing.
“Oh, uh… yeah. For a while. Do you?” He responds.
“Yeah, but only for another twenty minutes or so. I want to take a shower before we leave.”
“Okay,” He says, brushing my cheek affectionately before sprinting to the edge of the dock and disappearing below.
“You coming?” I ask Elliot, but he’s already half way through another sandwich.
“Two seconds,” He replies, his words garbled by too much food in his mouth. I get up from my seat and make my way over to the ladder but pause once more to look over the side of the deck. Nope, it doesn’t look any lower than it did a few days ago. I hesitate for a minute. I want to try it, just once, but I’m terrified. I don’t know if I’d be able to move my body off the edge even if I tried.
“Come on, Ana!” Kate yells from below. “Just try it!”
“Yeah, Ana, jump!” Mia encourages me.
“It’s really not that high,” Kate continues. “Maybe 15 feet, and the water is deep. You’ll be fine. It’s fun!”
“I can’t!” I call back regretfully.
“Alright, leave her alone,” Christian says defensively. “If she doesn’t want to do it, she doesn’t have to.”
“I’ll be the judge of that!” Elliot says behind me and I feel his arms wrap around me and lift me into the air. I scream as adrenaline courses through me and I realize what he’s going to do, and I both try and escape from his hold on me and grip tightly to his neck to prevent him from throwing me over the edge.
“Don’t! Elliot, Don’t!” I scream.
“Put her down, Elliot!” Christian yells angrily, but Elliot just chuckles.
“Getting closer to the edge…” He taunts me.
“Please, Elliot, No!” I cry.
“Elliot, I swear to God, I’ll kick your fucking ass. Put her down, now!” Christian snarls. Elliot stops at the edge of the deck and I grip to him, locking my hands together and holding on as tightly as I can. He pauses and I wait, feeling pure terror as the few seconds he hesitates drag on forever. Eventually though, he sighs, takes a few steps back and places me back down on the deck. The moment I touch the ground, the adrenaline overwhelms me, and I begin crying and gasping for air. Christian appears on the deck a few seconds later and wraps his arms around me.
“Are you okay?” He asks.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine,” I tell him. “I just need a second to calm down. I don’t know why I’m crying, this is so stupid.”
He rubs his hand over my shoulder for a second and then stands up and storms over to his brother.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” He demands.
“Whoa, take it easy, Christian. It was just a joke,” Elliot says.
“Do we look like we’re laughing?”
“No. Jesus, calm down. I’m sorry, alright. I wasn’t really going to do it,” Elliot says. I’m finally gaining my composure again and I turn to look at them. Christian is glaring at Elliot so intensely, I’m worried he’ll make good on his promise and hit him.
“I’m fine, Christian,” I say, attempting to placate him. “I’m fine, really.”
“I’m sorry, Ana,” Elliot says, walking away from Christian and over to me. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t realize you’d freak out so much.”
“It’s fine,” I tell him again. He reaches his hand down and pulls me to my feet. I smile at him so he knows he’s been forgiven, and he smiles back at me briefly before turning around and running over the edge of the dock himself.
“Do you want to go take a shower?” Christian asks. I nod and he wraps an arm around my shoulder to lead me inside. When we get to the sliding glass door though, I stop. Is this how I really want to end this trip, as a terrified mess huddled up on the deck? No. No, I don’t.
I turn around and before I even have time to thing, I sprint towards the end of the deck, too fast for me to stop if I change my mind at the last second. I hear Christian call my name behind me but it’s too late, I take the final step without looking down at the water and launch myself off the deck. I feel the gut wrenching feeling of falling for a second, maybe less, and then splash into the water below. Elation fills me as I realize that I did it, I overcame my fear, and I did it. I kick my legs hard to propel myself upward and the moment I break the surface, I’m laughing with glee.
“Ana!” Kate says, swimming towards me. “Are you okay?”
“I’m great,” I tell her. “I’m really great.”
I turn away from her and swim back to the ladder, climbing upwards to where Christian is waiting, staring down at me with a half confused/half amused expression on his face.
“What was that?” He asks, holding out a towel and wrapping it around me.
“I wanted to do it, and I didn’t want to leave with any regrets,” I tell him. He chuckles slightly, gives me a quick kiss on the lips, and whisks me off to the shower.
A few hours later, we’re all sitting sullenly in the waiting area outside our gate at Faa’a International Airport. No one wants to go home, no one wants this vacation to end. This week has been absolutely perfect.
Christian is sitting in the seat next to me, reading some book on market trends and fluctuations that doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I have a book packed in my bag for myself but instead of reading, I spend the hour we have to wait for our plane’s departure talking with my mom, spending as much time with her as I can before we have to part ways. Part of me feels like I should tell her now that I won’t be coming home for the summer, but I also don’t want to ruin the time we have left with the heartbreak I know that revelation will elicit.
It’s another late flight, so I spend most of the journey back to LA sleeping, but when we land at LAX, we have a last, quick family breakfast before we all have to disperse to our separate gates.
“I’ll be popping in and out of Cambridge over the next few weeks, son,” Carrick tells Christian. We’ve only got a few more weeks until the trial and I want to be absolutely sure we’ve got everything covered before then.”
“Okay, Dad,” Christian says.
“I’ll try to fly up in the next few weeks,” Elliot says to Kate. “This month is kind of busy though, with final projects coming due. I have a lot of research to finish before the trial, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to see you from now until then.”
“Okay,” Kate says sullenly.
I turn to my Mom, who has started crying, and hug her goodbye, promising I’ll call her every day, while Christian says goodbye to Mia. When my mom finally releases me, I give hugs to Bob, the Kavanaghs, and each member of Christian’s family, before taking Christian’s hand and walking with him towards our departure gate, Kate trailing in our wake.
We only have to sit and wait a few minutes before our flight begins boarding and, as we sit in our seats, waiting for the other passengers to file in around us, Kate and I begin looking through the pictures on our respective cameras, laughing as we recall memories from what feels like our very first vacation as members of the Grey family.
It’s late Sunday afternoon when we finally touchdown in Boston. Christian has ordered another town car to take us all back to Cambridge and by the time I reach my dorm in Grays Hall, I’m exhausted.
“You’re staying with me tonight?” Christian asks, as Kate opens our door.
“Yeah, I think I’m going to do some laundry but I’ll come over before I have to go to bed.”
“Alright, I love you,” Christian says.
“I love you too,” I tell him, and he leans over to kiss me before he disappears into his room.
When Kate finally gets the door unlocked, I drag my suitcase into our room behind me and drop it on my bed. We’re both quiet as we move morosely around the room to put our things away. Most of what’s in here isn’t appropriate for the weather in Cambridge, so I debate whether or not I really need to do my laundry tonight. I decide though, that I’m not going to want to do it anymore later than I do now, so I pull my laundry basket out of the bottom of my closet and take the clothes directly out of my suitcase and pile them into the basket.
“You’re going to go do laundry?” Kate asks.
“Might as well,” I tell her.
“I’ll go with you,” She says, pulling her own laundry basket out. I pick up the sundress in my suitcase, but once I pull it out, something heavy falls to the floor and rolls across the room.
“What is this?” Kate asks as she leans down to pick it up.
“I don’t know,” I say, placing the dress in the laundry basket and crossing the room to check it out. It’s a small glass bottle with a cork stopper and it’s filled with white sand. There is a tag around the neck of the bottle and when I turn it around to read what it says, I recognize Christian’s handwriting immediately.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia. March 26th 2008.
“Awh, that’s cute,” Kate says. “You guys could do something like this for every vacation you go on together. Think of how great that would be to have.”
“Yeah,” I say, smiling as I reach out and take the bottle. This is such a wonderful gesture, something for me to keep and remember this amazing vacation. Just a small bottle of sand and the thoughtfulness behind it means more to me than any of the diamonds he’s ever bought for me.
“Christian’s really great.” Kate says, smiling over at me. “That’s really romantic and it’s great that you have a guy who thinks of stuff like that. Elliot never would,” She adds, rolling her eyes.
“I know. I’m lucky,” I reply.
“I was really hoping he was going to propose,” Kate says. “I mean, sunset on the beach in Bora Bora! Could you imagine a more romantic proposal?”
“He’s not going to propose, Kate. Not for a while anyway. He knows I want to wait until I graduate.”
“Whatever you say…” She says, though the high pitch of her voice leads me to think she doesn’t believe me. “Can I ask one question though?”
“What?” I ask, as I open the door and we head out into the hallway.
“What color bridesmaids dress are you going to choose? Because I don’t look great in pastels.” I laugh, and push her playfully with my basket as I follow her downstairs to the laundry room.
Luckily, bikinis don’t take up much space in the washing machine so we get away with only two loads each, colors and whites. While we wait for them to finish in the dryer, we sit on the folding table in the back corner of the room and play cards. Time goes by fairly quickly and we have everything folded and ready to put away by dinner time. I’m surprised though, as we leave the laundry room, and run into Ros at the staircase. Especially since she doesn’t look very happy.
“Hey Ros, what’s up?” I ask, and her expression changes into a smile when she sees me.
“Hi, Ana. Kate. How was your vacation?” She asks.
“It was great! We really had a wonderful time. Is everything okay?” I ask again.
“Your boyfriend,” She sighs, shaking her head. “He got an investment offer today.”
“What?” I ask, suddenly alarmed. Shit, maybe I read the last few weeks wrong. Oh my god, are they leaving?
“Oh, don’t worry. It was a terrible offer. I don’t even know why he brought it up to me. He’s grasping at straws, I think. This was his last option and it’s not going to work. I think he’s just going to stop looking for a while, and honestly, it’s a relief to me, but not so much to him.”
I feel my body relax. He’s giving up? Oh thank God.
“You guys heading to dinner?” Ros asks.
“Sure,” Kate says. “We’ll meet you there. We just have to drop off this laundry first.”
“Okay, see you there!” She says, and she waves back at us as she leaves the building. I’m shocked once we make it back to our own room that Kate actually puts her newly folded clothes away instead of leaving them in the basket like she always does. Perhaps I’m finally having a good influence on her.
“Ready?” Kate asks when we’ve finished.
“I’ll catch up with you,” I tell her. “I’m gonna grab Christian real quick.”
She nods and we leave together, but she continues on down the hallway while I let myself into Christian’s room.
“Hey,” I say, once I’ve stepped through the door. He’s sitting at his desk scowling at the computer screen.
“Hey,” He half-heartedly replies.
“You wanna get some dinner?” I ask.
“I suppose,” He says, sighing as he closes the screen of his laptop.
“I’m sorry about your business deal,” I tell him, and he looks up at me confused.
“How did you know about that?”
“I ran into Ros downstairs,” I reply, and he shakes his head exasperatedly.
“Ros has a big mouth,” He says. I laugh, and he leans over in front of me to pick up his keys, so I take advantage and give him a swift peck on the cheek.
“What was that for?” He asks, the earlier frustration in his eyes now replaced by warm affection.
I can’t tell him it’s because I’m secretly happy that I now know he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, so I settle for, “Because I love you.”
He smiles down at me, kisses me on the lips, and takes my hand to lead me down to Annenberg.