Warning: Mild nudity NSFW
Kieran sat watching Claire work behind the counter. He needed to talk to her about what happened between them the other night.
“I’m heading out, see you in the morning?”
He was brought back to the present by Emma’s voice. “Yeah, okay Emmy. See you tomorrow.”
She waved to Claire before walking out. And after she left, Kieran stepped to the door and turned the lock. He closed the blinds, silently moving from one window to the other. Yes, they had to have a little chat.
“Whatever it is you’re about to say, let me just stop you.”
He turned around to see Claire standing in front of him. He took a moment to study her expression, trying to gauge her mood. He used to be good at reading people but he’d spent more time trying to be normal than practicing his magic and like a muscle, the ability had atrophied. “But you don’t even know what I want to say.”
“If it begins with ‘I’m sorry,’ then I don’t want to hear it.”
“Well, there you go. I had no plans of apologizing.” She raised a brow at that but said nothing. “I wanted to explain why.”
Claire moved forward and took a seat at the table in front of him. “Alistair, I know why. You were grieving. I understand that. And I – I’m not sorry about what we did either. But I… You understand why we can’t ever do that again, right?”
Kieran sat down across from her, telling himself not to reach out and touch her. “I know, in my head, that it should never happen again, Claire but my heart is finding it difficult to come up with reasons to stay away. I like you and I want to get to know you.” He leaned forward, encouraged when she didn’t shut him down immediately. “I have never felt like this about anyone before. I’m drawn to you and to be completely honest, I don’t mind.”
“You should mind. You have a wife and children.” She shook her head. “I am a lot of things but a home wrecker? How could I live with myself?”
He sighed. “I won’t pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. But just know that my marriage has been over for some time now. We tried to fix things with a baby but… There’s no fixing our brokenness, Claire. Whether or not we become a thing.”
She wouldn’t look at him and he felt such a profound loss that he had to stand up and move. Pacing, he rubbed the back of his neck. There was just so much pain and frustration and Claire had been like a light in the dark. Now that light was telling him to stay away. “How does a moth stay away from the flame?”
She looked up in surprise. “What?”
Kieran stopped pacing and stared at her. “How can I stay away from you, Claire? I am drawn to you. I would say against my will but I come voluntarily, happily. I am the moth to your flame.”
“Alistair,” she murmured. “If we do this we will both get burned.”
He knelt in front of her and took her face in his hands. “I would never hurt you.”
A tear formed and fell from her eyes while he waited for a response. Brushing it away, he leaned up and kissed her softly. He wanted – needed her to say yes but he would not push. Wouldn’t take without her permission. Trembling, he pulled away and sat back across from her, giving her the space she needed to think. Except he couldn’t help but add, “Please?”
“O-okay,” she said in a whisper. She gave him a tender smile and extended her leg to nudge his when he sighed in relief. “Okay,” she repeated.
“Tell me something about you.”
Kieran opened his eyes and looked down at the top of Claire’s head. He was feeling happy and sleepy and loved the feel of her warm body on top of his. “What do you want to know,” he asked.
He felt the same way about her. He wanted to know everything, all her secrets, hopes, and fears. He could read her, he’d discovered that early on in their relationship but he hadn’t after that one time. It felt wrong to invade her privacy like that but knowing that he could, eased him. She was so different from Lorde. “Ask me and I’ll answer.”
“Start from the beginning,” she said. “What was your childhood like?”
He told her everything but the parts about magic. He wanted to talk to her about that too but didn’t know how. Could he just say, hey, I can do magic! Wanna see?
As he spoke, he realized just how much of his life had magic in it, at least before Lorde. Now, he barely used his powers. Colin was five and should have been tested to see if he had any latent abilities but he hadn’t even done that. Why did he try so hard to be normal? He wasn’t ashamed of who he was, so why?
He didn’t trust Lorde. He knew there were people out there who despised witches and all things supernatural. Look what they did to Matt. If Lorde ever decided he was a danger to her and the kids, she would leave. She would take his children and disappear. She had no reason to stay with him, not love, not loyalty, nothing.
He looked at Claire, startled from his thoughts. “Sorry. Where was I?”
“Telling me about the day you met Eden,” she prompted.
“Ah, yes. The worst and best day of my childhood.” He laughed and moved so he was on top of her. He leaned down and kissed, marveling at how right she felt, how perfectly she fit in his arms. He smiled down at her and picked up the story where he’d left off.
Being with Claire was logistically a nightmare. He couldn’t show his affections at work and he couldn’t hide his feelings from Gracie, so he stopped coming in during her shifts. It was weird to walk into the bakery and not see her smiling face. He didn’t know what it was about her but he felt closest to her out of all his family, even his mother and sister. It had always been that way. Now, he had to avoid her on purpose. She hadn’t mentioned it during their phone calls but he knew she took notice. Gracie noticed everything, whether she wanted to or not.
He couldn’t even warn Claire about it without revealing too much. She just knew that he came in late and only on Gracie’s off days. She, too, never mentioned it and for that he was grateful but he worried that their secret wouldn’t be one for much longer.
Once the store was closed, he and Claire would go to a hotel and spend a couple of hours there together. Those were the parts of the day that he looked forward to the most. Getting to know her, what she thought about everything, what made her laugh – what made her angry, what her favorite things to do were.
“We should go somewhere,” he said one of those evenings.
Claire was sitting up in bed, her hair in a bun, her brown skin smooth and bare. She was getting ready to dress and leave him for the night. “Go where?”
She stretched a little and Kieran watched in fascination as the small table lamp silhouetted her pert breasts, her flat stomach and her full hips and thighs. She was a goddess. Even her eyes, those crystal clear irises that were looking back at him now, added to her allure.
“Anywhere you want. We could go to France or China. Egypt is perfect this time of year. Or we could pick a place on the map randomly and travel there. What do you think?” He looked at her eagerly, hoping for a yes.
Claire bit her lip. “What about work?”
“Gracie and Steph can handle work.”
“Al,” she hesitated then said in a rush, “You can’t just go away and leave your family.”
Kieran frowned. “I’m not leaving my family. I just wanted us to go somewhere we could be together, outside of a hotel room. I want to hold your hand in public. Kiss you in public. Be with you and not feel like what we’re doing is bad.”
Claire looked away from him, her shoulders sagging a bit. “What we’re doing is bad.”
He sat up, suddenly feeling frustrated and angry. “It’s not. It feels right. We feel right. What I’m doing is bad.” He sighed, the frustration and anger gone as quickly as they’d come. “And I’m going to fix this. I don’t want to hurt you. I promised I never would. I’ll fix this.”
“I’m going to ask Lorde for a divorce.” The moment he said it, he realized it was what he should have done a long time ago. So why hadn’t he?
“Al, you can’t… What about your kids?” Claire was staring at him now, shock and maybe a bit of hope on her face.
“They’ll be alright. I’m not getting rid of them,” he said with a laugh.
“Just their mother.” She turned away from him and stood up. Silently, she gathered her things and walked into the bathroom.
His plan to sit Lorde down and talk to her took two months to achieve. She never seemed to be home and when she was, she was too tired to do anything. Finally, right when he’d resigned himself to spending another evening alone with the kids while she slept, Lorde told him it was her night off.
Suddenly, Kieran felt panicked. How was he going to tell the mother of his children that he didn’t want her anymore? That sounded harsh and fucked up even to his own ears.
She sat down on the couch next to him with a book and a glass of wine. “Lorde, can we talk for a minute?”
Lorde placed her book down, crossed her arms and nodded. “Okay.” He stalled. He didn’t know what to say. “Is something wrong,” she asked, not looking at him. Everything about her screamed aggression. How had this become his life?
“No,” he said. “I mean, yes.” Kieran took a deep breath. He could do this. It was for the best. “Lorde, I think we need to take a break.” She stared at him and then started laughing. He frowned and started to feel that familiar anger that seemed to always be just on the surface. “What’s so funny?”
“Kieran, we’re married. We can’t take ‘breaks’ like we are in high school. If you’re unhappy with me, ask for a divorce or you know, be a grown up and talk to me about whatever is making you unhappy. But don’t ask for a break.” She chuckled.
His anger grew. She was right, he knew that but he couldn’t get himself to ask for what he wanted. “Fine, then I want a separation.” That stopped her laughter and for just a second he felt pleasure at the look on her face. When had he become such an asshole?
“What’s happened to you?” She looked at him as if seeing him for the first time. “What did I do that makes you want to leave us? I keep busy and give you your space. I don’t ask for much. I thought we were in a good place?”
He winced at that. He didn’t want to leave his children but he said nothing. Lorde waited another minute, then got up and left the room.
He told himself that he was just giving her time to come to terms with everything but days turned into weeks and still Lorde would not speak to him. She found reasons to be out when he was home and would leave the room the moment he walked in. She spent every moment they had to be together with the children and that made him realize just how little alone time they actually had together. Scheduled date nights once a month were all they’d ever set aside for each other.
In seven years, they’d never gone on vacation or even stepped outside their home together without Colin or Cyn. He started to feel guilty. Had he really tried everything he could to save his marriage?
Claire, for her part, never mentioned her concerns again. She met him wherever he told her to go and seemed content just to be with him.
“What should I bring?” She was making a list of things she’d need for their trip.
Kieran laughed. He was lying on the hotel bed, listening to her scratch away at her diary and answering the bubble of excited questions that she periodically threw his way. “It’s only for a week. Bring enough clothes for a couple of outings, dinner at some nice restaurants and a swimsuit.”
She turned to look at him. “Could we go to one of the new dig sites? I’d love to see some of the historical artifacts they’ve discovered. You remember that news article I read to you last week?”
He watched her face light up and knew he wouldn’t say no. “I remember and yes, of course we can.”
“Awesome. So, pack for exploring!” She jotted something down in her notebook and then closed it. She stood, stretched and walked back towards the bed. “Al, have I thanked you yet for this trip?”
He grinned. “Can’t recall.”
“Oh?” She climbed up the bed and nestled in his arms. “Just in case then…”
Kieran couldn’t remember the last time he was this happy and finally, he’d be able to express those feelings in public. This trip was well overdue.