The door to Ethan’s office opened but it was the knock that made him look up.
“Hi Betty, what’s up?” he asked casually. She smiled.
“I was on my way to get coffee and I thought to come and ask you if you wanted some.”
“Oh I’m good, thanks. I’ll be out with Mike in a couple of minutes.”
“Thanks though; perhaps another time.”
“Sure; later then,” Betty said and closed the door. Ethan went back to his work.
“So we have to meet up with this guy. He’s a potential powerful witness to the case,” Lisa said, jotting his name down.
“Uh huh,” Sue said, biting the tip of her pen. After a pause, she added, “You know you’d have to go out of state for this, right?”
Lisa looked up at her from the paper she was writing on.
“Yes?” Lisa followed Sue’s brief glance at Jeremy who was soundly sleeping on the sofa.
“You think Jeremy would be coming along? Of course not!” Lisa answered her.
“So what would you do? Leave him with Ethan?”
“Well, I could ask my mum to look after him at our house, of course.”
“You think Ethan would be cool with that?”
“Well, he married a lawyer so yeah, he has to deal with it. Come to think of it, we already have someone we need to contact outside too…”
“So how long would this trip be?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Well, just to know how to put things in place before I leave,” Sue said.
Ethan entered the shower as Lisa was brushing her teeth. When she was done, she turned around and leaned against the sink.
“Honey….there’s something I need to tell you.”
“Okay….something happened at work?”
“Yeah, sort of. There are some key witnesses we need to talk to if I really want to win the case I’m working on.”
“Okay so what’s wrong?
“Well….they are out of town…”
“That means I’d have to travel.” There was a pause and a moment later, the shower door opened.
“I know but I really need to do this.”
“And Jeremy? You’re not taking him along, are you?”
“Oh no; I was thinking that my mum could help…”
“How long are we talking about?”
“Well, it depends on how long we can convince them…”
“How long, Lisa?”
“Two weeks…at most.”
“I know it sounds very long but it’d all be over before you know it.”
“Hell no, Liz. You’re not abandoning your family for 2 weeks!”
“I’m not, I’d be working. It’s really important, Ethan. You knew I’d have a tight schedule this year….”
“You’re a mother now, Lisa and you have to always remember that.”
“I know that but I’m a lawyer too and travelling sometimes is part of the job.”
“And the baby?”
“Well, it’s not my fault that Jer came ahead of schedule…I told you I’d be caught up a lot with my cases.”
“What are you driving at, Lisa?”
“I’m saying that you moved this family-making timetable forward when you made me conceive Jeremy so please don’t make it look like I’m being irresponsible here. I’ve to make this trip,” Lisa said.
“Jer came ahead of schedule?” Ethan asked in disbelief.
“Listen, I’ve told you what I wanted to and I don’t want to go down this path so goodnight,” Lisa said and left the bathroom. Ethan shut the shower door.
Ethan came out of the bathroom and walked to Lisa’s side of the bed.
“Did you just say that Jer came ahead of schedule?”
“Ethan please, I’m trying to catch some sleep here.”
“Yeah right; you know what, you’re so selfish sometimes, Lisa. You make everything about you and your career. You should have left that mentality behind at the altar when you said ‘I do.’” Lisa sat up.
“Did you just call me selfish? After everything I’ve been through this past year, you call me selfish?”
“Tell me one thing you’ve sacrificed for the sake of this family,” Ethan demanded.
“I can’t believe this; what have you sacrificed?”
“This is not about me, Liz.”
“Oh yeah? Okay, I can say for the past year or so, I’ve had less than half the sleep I used to have and that has been affecting my work at the chambers, if you care to know,” Lisa informed him. Ethan crossed his arms.
“It hasn’t been easy, Ethan; combining taking care of Jeremy and my mum and then you…”
“There we go….you’re the mother first, the daughter second and the wife third. You forget that you were a wife before you became a mother.”
“And don’t you forget that I was a daughter before I became your wife,” Lisa blew back.
“But you’re married now…that’s what marriage does…you leave your parents and cleave to your spouse. That’s how it works.”
“Your point being what exactly, that I haven’t cleaved completely to you?”
“Have you?” Lisa was dumbfounded.
“I can’t believe this. Is it because I’m insisting on going for this trip?”
“When is this trip?”
“I’m sorry but you can’t.”
“Because I’ve a trip to go myself,” Ethan said flatly.
“What? So what, your trip comes first?”
“It’s an important conference for all neurosurgeons. I can’t miss it.”
“I can’t miss mine too; my mum can take care of Jer.”
“Without any supervision? No way!”
“What do you mean without any supervision? She took care of me enough for you to want me as your wife, Ethan!”
“She’s not that woman anymore, Lisa. She has amnesia, now.” Lisa chuckled.
“Sometimes you make me wonder how you made it through medical school with lame thoughts like that, Ethan. The fact that she’s forgotten some things doesn’t mean she doesn’t know when to change a baby’s diaper!”
“You’re not going, that’s it,” he said firmly and got into bed. Lisa shook her head in disbelief and lay down.
For the next few days, Lisa and Ethan barely talked. Lisa was mostly preoccupied with her case and Ethan came back home late most of the time. This put some strain on their relationship but none had time to actually deal with it.
The door to the study room opened.
“Hey…” Ethan greeted. Lisa raised her head.
“Oh hi, your food is in the microwave,” Lisa said and buried her face back in the pile of papers she was working on.
“Yeah, I know; I was hoping that we could sit together at the table…”
“I’ve already had my dinner. You go ahead.”
“Lisa….can we talk?”
“I’m busy here, Ethan.”
“Sure; I’ll excuse you then,” he said and closed the door.
Lisa was smearing lotion over her hands when Ethan entered the bathroom.
“You know I’m leaving tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah I do,” she said as she started to walk out. Ethan stopped her by blocking her.
“What’s going on here, Liz? We haven’t had a decent conversation for three days now. Is it because you wouldn’t be able to go on your trip?” Ethan asked.
“Oh I’m going…right after you come back. I’d have left by now if it weren’t for Jeremy,” she said and attempted again to walk past him. He stopped her.
“Are you angry with me?”
“No, Ethan, I’m not.”
“So what is it?”
“I’m tired, Ethan! I need some sleep.”
“It’s amazing you always call me by my name and not by any of the hubby-lovey names anymore….”
“Well, I guess there’s a time for everything.”
“Okay…so if you get to go and I stay, will we be okay?”
“And what makes you think we’re not?” Lisa asked back.
“Everything shows we’re not. You wouldn’t even look at me anymore.”
“I really want to sleep, Ethan.”
“Stop calling me that! I’m not just Ethan to you, Liz!”
“Whatever,” she said and walked past him. He held her arm and pulled her back gently.
“I know we may not agree on all things but I hope we won’t forget that no matter what, we’ll continue to be in love with each other.” There was a pause.
“Listen, we both have hectic jobs and all that we have to heal ourselves is each other. If we turn against each other now, what happens to us?” Lisa was about to protest but his hold on her waist made her lose her words.
“I miss you, Liz…” He pulled her to him and bent his head towards hers. Jer’s dramatic cry echoed through the room. Ethan silently swore. Lisa pulled away.
Lisa entered Jeremy’s room and picked him from the cradle. She rocked him gently. Jeremy was wide awake. Lisa lay him down on the bed and lay beside him. Before she knew it, she was asleep.
She woke up early in the morning and headed to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for Ethan. When she was done with that, she went to the bedroom.
“Slept by Jeremy, I presume,” Ethan said.
“Yes; it took a while to get him to sleep. Your breakfast is ready.”
“Okay; thanks,” he said as he closed up his suitcase. He turned to face her and opened up his arms. She walked into his embrace and he held her tightly.
“I love you sweetie,” he confessed. “I love you too.”
“So let’s stop fighting, shall we?” he pleaded as he looked into her eyes. She nodded. He kissed her.
“Let me help you with that,” Lisa offered as she took the suitcase.
“Thanks honey.” They went downstairs.
After breakfast, Ethan went to Jer’s room to say goodbye. He kissed his baby boy and then came back downstairs. Lisa walked him to his car. He put the suitcase at the boot and closed it.
“I’m going to miss you,” Lisa admitted.
“Same here, dear; you have no idea how much.” They hugged.
“Take care of yourself for me, will you?” Ethan asked softly.
“I will.” They pulled out of the hug. They kissed. He got into his car. They blew each other kisses and he drove off. Lisa sighed as tears threatened to fall. She went back into the house.
Lisa was doing the dishes when her phone rang. It was Sue.
“What’s up, Sue?”
“You need to come to the office immediately, Lisa.”
“Why, what happened?
She gasped after some moments. “Oh no…”
Sue entered Lisa’s office to find Lisa’s phone ringing. Lisa was in her seat facing the window with her back towards her.
“Lisa….why aren’t you answering your phone?” Sue asked as she took the phone.
“Leave it alone,” Lisa said quietly.
“But it’s Ethan; didn’t you say he was travelling today? Maybe he wants you to know he has arrived.”
“Yeah, message well received. Put it down.” She put the phone down.
“I know you’re upset that it’s more likely than not that we’ve already lost the case…”
Lisa swirled around in her seat to face her.
“And that wouldn’t happen if we had gone on that trip, Sue. We would have enough witnesses and evidence to nail this case down without sweat.”
“But we can chat with them online….”
“I tried but they are being reluctant. I need to see them personally. And I can’t be there because Ethan too needs to travel and he wouldn’t let me leave Jer in my mum’s care. Because of him, I might lose this case when I’ve promised Linda that I’d fight for her to win what’s hers,” Lisa said.
“I understand how you feel Liz but…”
“No you don’t, Sue! You have no idea having to put your career on the line because of your family. When you have to sacrifice something important to you so your partner can have his. You don’t know.”
“We can do this, Lisa. I know we can.” Lisa nodded and swirled around again so her back was facing her.
“I’ll be at my desk. Call me whenever you want anything,” Sue said and left the office.
“She’s still not answering?” Mike asked Ethan as he put the phone down.
“No, she’s not and I don’t know why. I thought we were past the silent fight when we kind of made up this morning so I don’t know whether I should be worried if something’s wrong,” Ethan said.
“You can try again later, buddy. How about we go out and grab some lunch?” Mike suggested. “Sure.”
Lisa was in the kitchen at her mother’s home when her mum entered.
“Hi mum….need something?”
“There’s a baby crying in the parlor. Whose child is it?”
“Oh mother…it’s mine…why don’t you get him and try to calm him down?”
“You got yourself pregnant without getting married? Your father won’t be pleased at all, Liz.”
“No mother; I’m married now and dad is dead,” Lisa said as she wiped her hands with a napkin and left the kitchen. She took Jeremy into her arms and kissed him.
“Why are you crying, honey? You miss daddy? He’ll be back today, okay?” She said sweetly as she rocked him. Annie came in.
“What is that you’re preparing in the kitchen, dear?”
“I’m stir-frying vegetables for you, mum.”
“I think they are getting over-cooked.”
“Could you please hold him for a minute,” Lisa asked, giving Jer to her. She rushed to the kitchen. Annie looked at Jer intently who only smiled at his granny.
“You do look like my daughter….for a second, I thought she was only babysitting you…let’s see if your grandfather would be happy to see you, huh?” Annie said.
Lisa’s phone beeped. It was a message alert from Ethan. She read it and put the phone down. She put out the fire and sighed.
She sent Sue a voicemail. “Hey…we leave tomorrow so get ready. I’ll call you later.”
Lisa drove home and prepared dinner. As she set the table, Ethan arrived. Jeremy’s face lighted up when he saw his dad.
“How’s my boy doing?” He said and he took him in his hand and kissed him.
“I missed you…” He turned to find Lisa setting the table. He put Jeremy down who squirmed in disapproval.
“Hi love…I tried calling so many times…you didn’t return any of my calls. Was something wrong?” he asked as he approached her.
“Oh no; not exactly; I was pretty much preoccupied.” She turned towards the kitchen. Ethan caught her hand and stopped her. She faced him.
“What is wrong? I was worried the whole time not hearing from you.”
“I’m sorry…I was caught up with my work…”
“Is everything okay?”
“There’s a fat chance I might lose my case because I couldn’t talk to my potential witnesses.”
“I’m sorry about that…I’d have let you go if not…”
“Oh I’m going…early tomorrow morning.”
“What? And Jeremy?”
“Well, you’re here now, right? He’ll have the needed supervision,” she said and walked off to the kitchen. At the table, Lisa was quiet.
“You blame me for the outcome of your case, don’t you?” Ethan asked his wife.
“No, I don’t.”
“So why are you being so cold towards me?”
“Ethan, I don’t want to talk about this.”
“But we should. We can’t go on like this. I miss the times when we could talk about anything at any time. I need you now, Lisa.”
“I don’t think I’ve much appetite tonight. Are you done?” Lisa asked. Ethan stared at her.
“Are you?” He answered quietly, “Yes.” She got up and took the plates to the kitchen. Ethan helped clear the table.
“I’ll take care of the dishes. I prepared the tub for you so you can take a luxury bath…you look like you need it,” Lisa said.
“I’ll have it only if you join me.”
“I’ll see….you go ahead.” Ethan kissed her cheek and went upstairs.
Ethan came out of the bathroom to find Lisa packing up a traveling bag.
“So you really are going…” Ethan remarked.
“Right after I’ve returned?”
“I need to do this, Ethan.” She zipped up the bag. She stood up and turned to face him. Before she could blink, Ethan’s lips were upon hers. She blinked hard when he paused.
“What…was that for?”
“To tell you that I miss you and I love you.”
“Okay…message well taken. I’ll go and take my shower now.”
“Okay; let’s do this,” Ethan said and surprisingly carried Lisa. She screamed.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m taking you to the tub.”
“What? Haven’t you taken your bath already?”
“I said I’d only do that if you joined me so I’m taking you to it.”
“No Ethan; I just want to have a shower tonight.”
“Call it my welcome back home gift,” he said with a smile. He took her into the bathroom.
They kissed and looked into each other’s eyes. Lisa touched his face.
“I seemed to have forgotten how good it feels to be with you, honey. I really missed you.”
“Yeah I know; that is why I had to make you remember,” he said and kissed her again.
“Gosh, I feel I’m going to conceive again,” Lisa said.
“Do you want to?”
“Oh hell no! I’m still not done with Jer…. I just feel…”
“Satisfied,” Ethan said. “Yeah, I do. I feel healed and de-stressed. Thanks for coming back to me.”
“Yeah and you’re leaving tomorrow. That is why I had to spend this night with you so you don’t forget me when you leave. How long will you be gone?”
“Four days at most.”
“Wow…how will I manage?”
“I called Sandra…she’ll be here tomorrow morning.”
“She wouldn’t be sleeping over, will she?”
“Oh no…or do you want her to?”
“No, of course not. I don’t want to be tempted.”
“It’s not that I find her appealing; it’s just that I don’t want to give myself the chance to find her as such.”
“Yeah, I understand. You’re the best,” Lisa said and kissed him.
“I’ll miss you…”
“Who knows, maybe I’ll pay you a surprise visit over there…” Ethan said with a wink.
“Uh huh…like what you did when we were dating?”
“Yeah…I think I finally broke down what was left of the wall you had put up around your heart when I did that.”
“Yes you did and I loved it.” They kissed again.