The Husbands Secret Page 106

She closed her eyes and rolled on to her side, facing away from Will.

Maybe Mum was right, she thought hazily. It\s all about our egos. She felt she was on the edge of understanding something important. They could fall in love with fresh new people, or they could have the courage and humility to tear off some essential layer of themselves and reveal to each other a whole new level of \otherness\, a level far beyond what sort of music they liked. It seemed to her everyone had too much self-protective pride to truly strip off down to their souls in front of their long-term partners. It was easier to pretend there was nothing more to know, to fall into an easygoing companionship. It was almost embarrassing to be truly intimate with your spouse;because how could you watch someone floss one minute, and the next minute share your deepest passion or tritest of fears? It was almost easier to talk about that sort of thing before you\d shared a bathroom and a bank account and argued over the packing of the dishwasher. But now that this had happened, she and Will had no choice;otherwise they\d hate each other for what they were sacrificing for Liam.

And maybe they\d already begun when they shared their stories last night about bald spots and school trivia nights. She felt equal parts hilarity and tenderness at the thought of Will\s face dropping when the hairdresser held up the mirror to show him the back of his head.

The compass her father had sent her was sitting on the bedside table. She wondered what would have happened to her parents\ marriage if they\d decided to stay together for her. If they\d really tried, out of love for her, could they have done it? Probably not. But she was convinced that Liam\s happiness was the most valid reason in the world for her and Will to be here right now.

She remembered how Will had said that he wanted to squash her spider. He wanted to kill it.

Maybe he wasn\ here entirely for Liam\s sake.

Maybe she wasn\ either.

The wind howled and the glass of her bedroom window rattled. The temperature in the room seemed to plunge and Tess felt all at once violently cold. Thank God Liam was wearing his warm pyjamas and she\d put that extra blanket on him;otherwise she\d have to get up in the cold and go check on him. She rolled towards Will and pressed the length of her body against his back. The warmth was an exquisite relief, and she felt herself begin to slide back into sleep, but at the same time she pressed her lips to the back of his neck, accidentally, reflexively. She felt Will stir, and put his hand back to caress her hip, and without either of them making a decision, or asking the question, they found themselves making love, quiet, sleepy, married love, and every move felt sweet and simple and familiar, except that they didn\ usually cry.

Chapter fifty-five

\Grandma! Grandma!\

Rachel emerged slowly from a deep, dreamless sleep. It was the first time in years that she\d slept without the lights on. Jacob\s room had heavy dark drapes across the window, like a hotel, and Rachel had fallen asleep almost instantly on the sofa bed pulled out next to his toddler bed. Lauren was right: the sofa bed was surprisingly comfy. She couldn\ remember the last time she\d slept so deeply;it felt like a skill from her past that she\d assumed she\d lost forever, like turning a cartwheel.

\Hello,\ she said. She could just make out the shape of Jacob\s little body standing next to her bed. His face was level with hers, his eyes shining in the darkness.

\You here!\ He was amazed.

\I know,\ she said. She was amazed herself. Lauren and Rob had offered for her to stay the night so many times, and she\d always refused instantly and adamantly, as if she had a religious objection to the idea.

\Raining,\ said Jacob solemnly, and she registered the sound of heavy, settled rain.

There was no clock in the room, but it felt like it was about six o\clock: too early to start the day. She remembered with a slight sinking of the heart that she\d said she\d go to Lauren\s family\s house for Easter lunch. Perhaps she\d feign illness. She\d stayed the night after all;they would have had enough of her by lunchtime, and she would have had enough of them.

\Do you want to hop in with me?\ she said to Jacob.

Jacob chortled, as if she was one crazy grandma, and hauled himself up into the bed. He climbed on top of her and buried his face in her neck. His little body was warm and heavy. She pressed her lips against the silken skin of his cheek.

\I wonder if . . .\ She caught herself just in time before she said, I wonder if the Easter Bunny has been. He would have hurled himself from the bed and run through the house searching for eggs, waking up Rob and Lauren, and Rachel would have been the annoying house guest and mother-in-law who reminded the child it was Easter.

\I wonder if we should go back to sleep,\ she said instead, thinking it highly unlikely, for both of them.

\Nah,\ he said. Rachel felt the soft flutter of his eyelashes against her neck.

\Do you know how much I\ll miss you when you\ e in New York?\ she said in his ear. It made no sense to him, of course. He ignored the question and wriggled himself into a more comfortable position.

\Grandma,\ he said happily.

\Oof,\ she said as he dug his knee into her stomach.

The rain got harder and the room felt suddenly colder. She pulled the blankets tighter around their bodies and held Jacob closer, and sang into his ear, \It\s raining, it\s pouring, the old man is snoring, went to bed and bumped his head, and couldn\ get up in the morning.\


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