I woke up to see Michael sleeping softly beside me. I studied his features that I’ve never stopped loving. The natural arch in his left eyebrow, the dimple in his chin, and his defined jawline. He’s changed over the last seven years, but who hasn’t? He’s still the same person no matter what he deems change worthy.
After our talk last night, we returned to his room and slept. He feels like home. I didn’t realize how foreign it felt with Drew, but with Michael, it feels natural. Almost like the fact that I even tried to have this with Drew was abnormal. This feels safe and secure. This feels like I never want to give it up again. We’ll always have each other.
I planted soft kisses on Michael’s left hand. This simple act means throwing away everything Drew and I have. I’m giving up years of happiness gained from someone I wanted to try to grow old with. Michael watched me fall into his arms. He’s gotten upset with me for trying to make it work with Drew, but he accepted it, probably knowing that I would come back all along. And here I am.
What does he have over me? What pulls me back to him so strongly? What made him the person that I would be hopelessly devoted to? What is it about him? What makes him home? What makes me want to throw away everything I have with a phenomenal man for him?
Someone is going to come out of this heartbroken, and I hate that.
Michael’s eyes fluttered open as he focused on me, “what time is it?”
“Seven,” I watched as he carefully woke up each part of his body.
“Are the twins up yet?” I shook my head no. “Good,” he pulled me in for a kiss like we were lovers that had never parted in the first place. A reminder that this is home. My heart against his chest, lips pressed upon his like the past seven years apart didn’t even happen. I settled into him, allowing him to crawl atop me; the back of his left hand traced the outside of my right hip. His morning breath was never a delight, but I didn’t even care. Another reminder that we had become strangers in the past seven years. But now, I love his godawful breath for the first time in twenty-four years.
I turned my face to the side, so his lips planted on my cheek, “what are we doing?”
“What do you mean?” He slowly fell on top of me.
“I mean, I can’t do this to Drew. I already feel terrible enough. Once I get home, I have to break the news to him. So, what are we? What is this?”
“This…” he looked away from me. “Is the start of something new, if you want it to be.”
“Now, what do you mean?”
“I mean… If you allow me, let’s start over. Let me court you again. Let me show you how much I’ve always loved you. Let me show you how much you mean to our children and me. Let’s be a family.”
“I can’t just jump from relationship to relationship like that. It wouldn’t look right,” I shook my head.
“So, what do you suggest we do? Forgive me, love, but I don’t see you returning to Drew after this.”
“I know,” I sighed. “Can I let you know once I get everything squared away with him first?”
He rolled off of me and sat up on his elbow, “the ball’s in your court. I’ll wait for as long as you need me to.”
“I’ve been waiting this long. I think I can wait however much longer,” he shrugged.
I smiled, “you changed.”
“I don’t know. There’s just something different about you. I guess time just changes us, huh?”
He shrugged, “guess so.” He looked over me for a moment before opening his mouth to speak again, “I’m sorry for everything I did to you. You didn’t deserve it. I thought I was doing what was right, but I could have done so much better when I look back on it. From using you to just stringing you along… We should have done life together instead of me making you follow my every lead only for it to lead to destruction.”
I shook my head no, “it wasn’t just you. We both had a fault in it. I should have never done what I did to you with Roland. That is probably one of my biggest regrets. You were in your worst moment, and I had a whole emotional affair on you. That was cruel. And… I could have been a better wife after that. I withdrew, and I pushed you out after the miscarriage. That wasn’t fair to you. We both lost a child, and I felt like you were already being selfish about so much that you didn’t care about me losing the baby. So I became bitter, and we never got to get through that together. I’m sorry.”
He swallowed. When I look back on our marriage, that is one of my biggest regrets. I don’t think I ever really gave him a chance to grieve. I thought I was the only one suffering, but he was too, and I didn’t let him get that out. Because of that, we both turned on each other, which is why he cheated on me with Shana. She let him vent about whatever he may have needed to vent about. She was there for him, and I wasn’t.
We never discussed my assault on him at the VMA’s. I hate that I did that to him. He didn’t deserve that. I was acting out of emotion, which wasn’t fair to him. We were both wrong at that moment, but I should have never assaulted him. I don’t think about it often, but over the years, I’ve thought about how I could have done things a lot differently.
“I forgave you,” he finally said. “I just always hoped that you had forgiven me too.”
He nodded, “now what?”
I pressed my lips together, “now we go check on the twins.”
His eyebrows furrowed together as he looked toward the door, “I don’t hear anything.”
“That’s exactly why we should check on them,” I laughed. He’s such a Dad. “Come on,” I got up and stretched.
If something comes of this, how will the twins take it? I don’t think it’ll be strange, but they’re so used to seeing us apart that it may take a little getting used to. I don’t know. We’ll see how this goes. I opened the bedroom door and went to MJ’s room, only to find that he was still asleep. I went to check on Mimi to see the same. Yesterday must have really worn them out.
“Are they still asleep?” Michael asked me.
“Yeah. Guess I expected them to be up since they’re such early birds.”
“Not when they’re with their daddy,” he smirked. “They always sleep in late when they’re with me.”
“Yep. I tried setting a bedtime, but they always wanted to be with me. It only works when they’re in school. Other than that?” He shrugged, “they’re for sure night owls.”
“I don’t know how you managed to do that when they have an eight o’clock bedtime with me.”
“There’s always a bit more freedom with Dad. You know that.”
“Oh gosh,” I shook my head. “Whole time, I thought they just had a long day.”
“That too, but they’re accustomed to waking up late with me. Between that and the time difference,” he looked at the nearest clock that displayed seven thirty-two a.m. “Don’t expect them to be up until at least eleven or twelve.”
“What have you done to my babies?”
“Our babies? Nothin’,” he shrugged.
I couldn’t do anything but laugh. I take it back. It will be strange if we parent together, but staying up late and sleeping late will not fly with me. We’re gonna have to agree on a happy medium.
“Can I ask you somethin’?” Michael asked as he sat on the couch.
“What’s up?” I sat beside him.
“If you don’t mind me asking, if all of this is occurring right now, did you ever really love Drew?”
I inhaled deeply, “yes… But I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone else as much as I love you.”
“I mean, you were gonna marry the guy. Now you have to tell him you’re not all in like you thought. You weren’t tryna-”
“Me being with Drew was never about me getting back at you,” I finished his sentence. I already knew that he was thinking it long ago. “I guess I just see now that I wasn’t giving all of me like I thought. It felt like I was, but with so much that has happened within the past two years with you and me, I guess I finally realize it.”
“What happened between us that made you not give your all to someone you claimed to love?”
I swallowed, “9/11, first and foremost. I could have lost you that night, and my last words to you were that you wouldn’t have seen your children again. Sometimes I still feel like I’m dreaming. I still can’t believe that that happened and that you would have been gone in the blink of an eye,” I shook my head. That still haunts me to this day. I think that’s another reason I’ve not had an issue helping out Michael as much as I have recently. I’ve been making up for that day that rocked our nation to its core and showing him that I’ll always care about him no matter the circumstance. “And then that thing with Bashir. I couldn’t let you do that alone. I’m glad I helped you with it, even though it backfired. Then I’ve been helping you with the rebuttal and the private home videos. You and I have had plenty of time to heal. All that pulled me away from Drew and slowly back to you.”
He nodded, “I see.”
“What about you and Nina?” I wondered. I couldn’t not ask.
He chuckled to himself, “Nina was just someone to pass the time with. She wanted more. I didn’t. I feel like she kind of forced me into wanting more. She meant nothing.”
“Really. I think that’s what hurt her most. She knew that nothing substantial would come of this. And the more you and I did things together, the more she saw that it would never happen. I think she was just trying to become the next ‘Mrs. Michael Jackson,’ but that was never gonna happen. Even if I never got married again, there would only be one ‘Mrs. Michael Jackson.’ The last thing I need is two.” We both laughed.
“I really did think she was for the long run.”
“You and her both,” he shook his head.
I’ve never fully believed that if someone leaves and comes back, they’re meant to be in your life. Sometimes, if someone comes back, they may think you’re an easy target. It may be a test to see if you’ve learned your lesson the first time. But I’m not getting that feeling from Michael. I think we just really needed time apart. We practically grew up together. We’re totally different people than who we were in our twenties and thirties. We’ve evolved and may have clashed with each other during those evolutions.
If we get back together, am I settling? Why am I talking about getting back together? I’m rushing things. I need to focus on what I’m going to say to Drew before thinking about what could transpire between Michael and me. I guess I’m just hoping that something will come of it. I don’t see myself trying to date someone else after Drew. I just want to raise my children and have a good life. That’s it. Is that too much to ask?
“May I?” Michael caressed my cheek. I nodded. He leaned forward and pulled me in to kiss me again. I closed my eyes as I took in everything that I was feeling. The fireworks that had died out when we were married came rushing back. If we do this again, I want to start with a clean slate. I don’t want to talk about what happened in the past anymore. I want to move on into our new season of raising our children together.
“Daddy- Eww!!!!” We turned around to see Mimi with the most disgusted look on her face.
I couldn’t help but laugh. This is her first time seeing us like this. I don’t think it’ll be the last, but it’s definitely a first. I hope my poor baby isn’t scarred.
“What are you doing with Mommy?!” She gagged as she hurried over to sit in her father’s lap. “That’s only for Mommy and Drew and you and Nina.”
“Well,” Michael raised his eyebrows. “Nina and Daddy aren’t friends anymore.”
“Since a while ago.”
Mimi turned to look at me, “is Drew gonna be upset when he finds out you kissed Daddy?”
How do I explain such a confusing moment to my daughter? She’s only known me and Drew, not me and her father. I mean, she knew enough to know that Michael didn’t do right by me, and that’s why we aren’t together and why our family is different from others. But she’s never seen her father and me in a romantic light.
“Drew and I are gonna have a long talk about it,” I assured her. She had grown to love Drew as a future stepfather, so I know this is a shock to her.
She looked between her father and me suspiciously, “do you two love each other?”
“Yes, we do,” Michael nodded.
“Like Drew and Mommy love each other?”
He took a deep breath, “no. Like only we can love each other.”
“What’s the difference?”
“It’s a huge difference and one that your tiny little brain won’t understand right now,” I tapped her nose playfully. “We’ll explain it to you when you’re much older. Until then, go get ready for breakfast. We have a long day ahead of us.”
“Want me to get Mikey up?” She asked as she walked back to her room.
“Nope. Let him sleep,” I told her.
Michael and I waited until she was out of earshot before we began speaking again.
“You do realize this is going to be tough to explain, right?” He asked me.
“I’m way ahead of you,” I stood up.