Chapter 17 "Separated"

"Dusk is just an illusion because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things are there cannot be one without the other yet they cannot exist at the same time. How would it feel I remember wondering to be always together yet forever apart?" -Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

The problem with having a spouse who refuses to a divorce—is you never really get anywhere fast. This could've been a quick, painless process, but considering the fact that David happened to be a stubborn pain in the ass I should've seen it coming.

He refused to move out of the apartment—away from our children. He said he wouldn't leave until he had a documented paper in front of him saying that he had to.

I think he was just trying to piss me off…It was working.

I could still remember the day he broke the news to me. He had picked Elizabeth up from school that day—with my consent, but still. I thought it would be good for her to be around her father before things really fell apart. I knew the first few months after our separation I had been a bit off, but I realize now more than ever that our children had to come first and that was the only reason why I was even being remotely civil towards David. I had no idea that he would take the opportunity to tell her something that I had no intention of letting happen.

I had heard the front door first from Hayden's room and paused briefly before getting up deciding that my desire to see Elizabeth was much stronger than my will not to see David. I made my way out to the living room and smiled when I saw her.

Elizabeth looked up from the shoe she had just been tying and smiled.

"Momma!" She stood up and ran to me, wrapping her arms securely around my waist.

"Hey baby," I greeted her and bent down to place a kiss on her forehead. "How was your day?"

Elizabeth smiled again. "It was okay, but then Daddy picked me up and told me he's going to stay with us again. Isn't that great?"

"Wow," I answered slowly. "That is definitely something." I looked up at David, who was busy fidgeting with his hands. "Why don't you go put your stuff in your room Elizabeth?"

Once Elizabeth was in her bedroom, I stood back up, straightening myself out. I fixed my gaze on him and glared.

"I cannot believe that you would tell her something like that when I specifically told you to leave. What part of divorce do you not understand? You're not staying here David!"

He ignored me and I watched as he closed the front door behind him before coming into the house. He carried a large suitcase with him and made his way down the hallway to the bedroom.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" I asked following after him. "Did you not hear anything that I just said?"

David set the suitcase on the bed and opened the closet. He grimaced when he saw that all of his stuff had been replaced with Jason's things, but he simply shook his head and moved to the guest room.

"What does it look like Haley? I'm about to unpack." He responded nonchalantly.

I didn't really believe any of this. Had he just said he was going to be staying with us? Surely I had heard him wrong.

"You can't stay here" I said again firmly.

He looked into my eyes…in another time I probably would've been totally dazzled with the way his emerald green eyes smoldered at me, but at that moment I was really just pissed off.

"Yes I can Haley this is my home…it's under my name. Remember?" He said softly before grabbing the hangers out of the empty closet and hanging his clothes up.

I narrowed my eyes at him.

I couldn't deny what was right in front of my face I grabbed his arm forcefully and pulled him back from the closet, moving so that I was in between him and the area of terror.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" I shouted.

"Unpacking" he said again slowly as though I didn't hear him the first time.

"You are unbelievable. Who the hell do you think you are?"

David took a step closer to me and crossed his arms over his chest. He cocked an eyebrow.

"Who do I think I am? I think I'm the father of two children who need me right now." He sighed. "I know you're not happy about it, but you're just going to have to accept the fact. I am staying here Haley whether you like it or not. I'm not going anywhere until I have a paper in my hand telling me that I have to."

My head shot up at his words.

"I hate you" I said to him forcefully. His jaw tightened and he shook his head and stepped closer to me.

"That's where you're wrong Haley. I know you still love me and that it scares you, but there it is. I'm going to do everything in my power to help you see that again and until that happens you'll just have to get used to the fact that I'm going to be in the room across the hall."

I knew I had lost this one so I angrily spun on my heel and went to my bedroom and slammed the door behind me.

David moving back in didn't make me rethink my decision to get a divorce…If anything it only made me more determined to speed up the process.

The lawyer I hired was named Fiona King and she was known for being somewhat of a bad ass on her trials. I was confident that she would get me what it was that I wanted.

In normal state of affairs she had told me that there would be a revision of a pre-nup and the process would be quick, but because we had two kids that it would be make things more complicated. However, she assured me that the court was more likely to sway towards the mother as opposed to the father who can be seen as having pulled a case of abandonment due to his excessive absences in the children's life.

The first time David and I sat down with our lawyers to talk about what was going on was much harder than I could've possibly imagined.

I don't think I can put into words what it felt like sitting across a table from David with our lawyers—separated. I knew I had to be strong and in theory this was the right thing, but I had no idea how painful this would be. Every piece of me screamed to reach out to him…to take his hand…to hold him…anything that would make all of this hurt go away. Pride held me back. I didn't even know how I got through those two hours—creating the pre-nuptial. When it was done I felt drained—both emotionally and physically.

I moved out that door so quickly that if anyone had been watching they would've thought there had been a fire. There was no fire I just needed to get away from this man before my will power shattered.

He followed me and stood next to me professionally.

"So you're really serious about this—the divorce I mean. This is really what you want?"

I nodded curtly afraid that my voice would give me away. He cleared his throat and walked away without another word. When he was out of sight I stood still—placing my hand over my rapid heart and took shallow breaths. How was I going to get through this?

He wasn't making it easy on me that was for sure. He was clearly trying to make my life hell.

Not that I wasn't trying my best to do the same to him. Mostly with Jason—who was staying with me…in my bedroom. When David was around I would do things like take Jason's hand and play with his hair. It wasn't the easiest thing to do. Jason was such a child. Whenever I grabbed his hand he would start play thumb wrestle with me and he was so over the top. I think he was punishing me. He would say things like "Yes, Snicker doodles." And I would have to elbow him in the gut to stop his laughter.

At night he would really play it off making noises what he thought apparently were moans. I couldn't help but laugh.

In the mornings you could tell how badly David wanted to punch Jason in the face—but he restrained himself.

I had no idea how David didn't know Jason was gay.

Not to mention that on more than one occasion I caught Jason checking out David openly in front of him.

There was one good thing about Jason being around though…apart from the public being distracted with something other than the divorce and that was that when Jason was around David left me alone. Unfortunately though Jason was a doctor and was almost always working so David had plenty of time to harass me.

"How do you do that?" David asked me… "Be with someone who's never around?"

I looked at him. "I guess I got good at it after being married to you" I said sourly. It was a low blow, but it shut him up fast.

I guess it was just an awkward situation for everyone. Everyone except the kids of course. Hayden was too young to really understand what was going on…he wasn't even talking yet, but Elizabeth was ecstatic. She seemed to be determined to get us back together. This was probably the only thing refraining me from kicking him out on his ass.

After David had decided to be with another woman I had decided to have a game night for the kids when all of our friends and family come over and we play whatever Elizabeth wants to. I guess you could call it guilt. I was really just trying to be a good mom. A lot my actions in my life had been selfish, but I loved those kids more than anything. They were all that mattered at this point. I hated myself for what the divorce would do to them, but I was trying to protect them and myself from David. He was very obviously not what he seemed and it was up to me to be strong and take care of my family.

We still had game night every week, but now thanks to Elizabeth David took part in it as well.

I dragged Jason along to help keep my sanity. He wasn't too happy with me for being so childish, but had reluctantly agreed.

Kristy and Derek hesitated before agreeing to come over, but eventually decided to come. Derek was trying to be friendly towards his best friend while also trying not to say anything too friendly that would piss off his wife. It was rather funny to watch. Kristy completely ignored him, but made a huge effort to talk to everyone else. David pretended not to notice and put his attention towards Elizabeth and Hayden.

"Do you always have to win sweetheart?" David said, smiling down at Elizabeth after she beat him twice at checkers.

"Of course. It's what I do best." She smiled.

David laughed and looked over to me. I was sitting on the couch with Hayden watching them. Kristy and Derek were in the kitchen getting more chips and Jason was pretending to read a book and try not to make eye contact with David who he was till sure was going to kick his ass.

"She's defiantly your daughter." David said.

I grimaced at him and he sighed regrettably and turned back to Elizabeth.

The rest of the night dragged sluggishly by like this. With all of us trying to make Elizabeth happy while trying to ignore the overall awkwardness of the situation.

"Mommy, can we just have one more round before bed? Please?"

I shook my head and stood up.

"No, baby. You've used that face and those words three times tonight, and it's not working again. Go brush your teeth."

After a dramatic sigh, Elizabeth told everyone goodnight and went to brush her teeth and get her pajamas on.

David and I followed her. He kissed her forehead and he shut her door securely.

"I still can't believe you're even contemplating taking my family away from me."

"It's the right thing to do." I breathed not sure if he was still talking about the divorce or if he knew that I had decided to fight for full custody of the kids.

"For you maybe" He said just as quietly.

He walked out into the living room and I followed after him.

"Let us adults play a game now" Kristy said after putting Hayden down for bed.

I shook my head.

"Kristy game night is over when Hayden and Elizabeth go to bed, we've doing this for six months now…it's kind of just a thing"

"We're playing" she said again stubbornly. I rolled my eyes in defeat knowing there was no changing her mind once she had set it on something.

"No drinking, swearing or sex" I said sitting down next to Jason. David stood in the corner of the room and Derek handed him a beer.

"Of course not" Kristy smiled before grabbing a chunk of paper and tearing it into slips of paper. "We're going to play a word game."

"I'm down" Jason said immediately grabbing a few slips. Kristy smiled and David was the next to consent. I rolled my eyes and agreed to.

"This better not be some weird cult game Kristy" I grimaced. She laughed.

"It's not…I just think there has been so awkwardness tonight…" she said glancing between David and I. To say that there was awkwardness would be a totally insane understatement.

"I'd say that's the understatement of the year" David said speaking the words for me. I grimaced; displeased with the idea that he could still do that. Kristy ignored him.

"This should clear everything up…there's obviously a lot not being said so I've constructed a little game to get things out in the open. I'm going to give you three words and you have to write the first thing that pops into your head." She glared at everyone in the room briefly. "And you have to be honest."

"Whatever" I mumbled snatching three sheets of paper from her hands. I looked around the room as everyone sat around with their paper.

"Okay" Kristy began once we were all situated "the first word is pain"

Everyone scribbled something down quickly. I wrote loss…because for me that was pain. Whether it was losing a friend or a family member or a lover…loss had always taken everything from me and left only pain in its way.

Kristy waited what seemed like an eternity before going on to the next word.

"Love" she smiled at Derek and then jotted something down.

This one was easy for me though I'm not sure if I broke the rules by writing both Elizabeth and Hayden's names on the paper. However she did say to write the first thing that came to mind and they were exactly that—the definition of love for me. I simply could not have one without the other—I loved both of them equally in limit and would do anything for them. I suppose I didn't really care of broke her stupid rules…she'd just have to deal with it.

"Last, but not least…sex" she said.

I took a deep breath and then closed my eyes. I didn't think anyone would see this so why did it matter if I was being honest. I wrote David's name…surprisingly considering how much hated him and how many people I had to choose from, but in a lot of ways David was my first…not my first roll in the sack, but it felt that way. He was the most important one anyways and I suppose I would always think of him that way, even long after we were no longer together.

We all folded our three answers and I started to get up thinking that was the end of the game…I guess I should've known better.

"Time to read them out loud" Kristy sang grabbing her papers. My eyes widened.

"What? I thought this was some weird girly self-reflection thing. You never said that we had to do that!" I said hurriedly. Everyone looked at me, curious by my outburst probably trying to figure out what I had written that I didn't want anyone to see.

"Well I'm saying it now" she said smiling. "Derek will go first"

He looked at her and smirked, obviously knowing that he would be the first to be targeted.

"For pain I said boat"

We all stared at him incredulously and he shrugged.

"It was the first thing that popped into my head. For love I said Kristy and for sex I said Kristy"

Kristy beamed obviously pleased with that answer and kissed him. She pulled back and straightened her paper slips.

"I'll go next…For pain, I wrote blood…for love I put Derek and for sex I put Derek." She said smiling He wagged his eye brows at her and I looked away. I could no longer stomach their marital affection towards each other.

Jason was the next to go… "For pain I put death…sorry I'm doctor…for love I put vacation and for sex I put a hard di—"

I coughed and cut him off before he could finish that statement and totally blow his cover. He winked at me and I shook my head. I threw my pencil at David indicating for him to go.

He raised his eye brow and took a deep breath for continuing. "For pain I put love…for love I put Hayden and Elizabeth…I'm sorry I know that's against the rules, but I simply cannot pick between the two…I love them both equally with all my heart"

I looked at my hands for a moment feeling guilty for trying to taking them away from him. It was in their best interest though wasn't it?

"And for sex I put Haley" he said meeting my eyes. I grimaced and looked away immediately, but didn't make any kind of reply.

"You're turning Haley" Kristy said knowingly. I glanced at her. Why was she doing this to me? I took a deep breath and read the slip of papers.

Pain it was something every one of them knew about me and they all nodded in understands. Love was something both David and I had agreed on, but the sex was something I hesitated before saying out loud. I knew David was watching me intently to see if I had written his name too. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction, but I knew he would know if I lied and said Jason's name so I said David. Our eyes locked for a fraction of a second and everyone stared awkwardly at different points of the room.

So much for trying to make things less awkward…

When I witnessed the smug grin that spread across his face, I wanted to be sick. Secretly, I had been anxious to see his reaction, but the one he had given me was not one I was happy about. I stood up and began to stalk down the hallway.

Before I could shut my bedroom door, he stepped in and then closed it quickly.

"David, get out." I said forcefully.

"No," he answered firmly. "I'm not going anywhere. And the sooner you realize that, the better. I'm here for good, and I'm committed to you and the kids."

"What part of divorce do you not understand?" I scoffed. "Is it not enough of a wake-up call to sit with lawyers every day? Get it through your head; I will never be with you again."

He stepped closer to me and looked into my eyes.

"Are you sleeping with him?"

Of all the things I thought he would ask me this was nowhere on the list. His eyes looked haunted, almost as if all of the things that were bothering him at the moment this was the highest on the list.

"Excuse me?" I seethed. "That is none of your damn business. I can have sex with whoever the hell I want whenever the hell I want, and there is not a damn thing you can do about it."

"It is my damn business!" He shouted. "It will always be my damn business." He paused. "He could never love you like I do."

Those words hurt, and I wasn't fully aware of the reasons. He was such a hypocrite. I didn't believe for a minute after I saw him with Tallulah that this man loved me. I hated him so much for making me think that he ever did.

I shook my head.

"We're not together anymore…and soon we we'll be divorced and I'll be free."

"I never meant to hurt you Haley." He said, shaking his head. "I really wish you'd let me explain."

"Don't bother. You didn't hurt me David…In case you didn't notice I'm better off without you and so are Elizabeth and Hayden."

He visibly flinched and I had to stand my ground so I subside to the instinct that made me want to comfort him.

"I love you." He said again helplessly.

"Do not say that to me." My eyes were filled to the brim with tears. "You do not love me." I shook her head defiantly. "And you need to go."

He attempted to step closer to her, but I moved away. "I don't want to."

I stepped around him and to the door, opening it quietly. "Leave, David."

He stared at me for a moment or two, trying to search for any hidden emotions behind my eyes, but all he saw was anger. He walked out the door silently.

The next day Jason asked me about it at lunch. I had agreed that David could spend time with Hayden seeing that he barely knew his son…he didn't know the bewildered face he got when we passed over a speed bump or that the sound of the laundry machine is the only thing to get him to stop crying in the middle of the night…I wanted him to know these thing. I wanted him to prove to me that I was wrong to ask for full custody. I just wanted a sign that he wouldn't disappear again…there was no way I'd ever be with him, but I wanted the kids to have him in their lives.

"Where's Hayden?" Jason asked me as soon I saw him. I smiled.

"With his dad" I replied.

He nodded and waited for me to sit down before continuing.

"Speaking of the soon to be ex-husband, last night was pretty weird, huh? What went on with you two after the game?" Jason said.

I shook her head. "Nothing went on. We just argued; it's nothing new."

"Really? I didn't want to say anything, Hales, but you could've cut the sexual tension with a knife. It's obvious that the boy still wants you."

"And that's irrelevant," I shot back. "If he really wanted me, he wouldn't have hooked up with his x-fiancé. And if he really loved me so much, he wouldn't have been able to sleep with anyone else while he was London. I know, because I haven't been able to."

"Do you really know that he had sex with this girl?"

I cast him an evil glare. He held his hands up defensively.

"Hear me out, all I'm saying is that from what I hear he doesn't seem like the cheating type. And the way he looks at you only confirms it."

He sighed slowly.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is how do you know that he slept with those other girls? Magazines lie all the time to get buyers. It doesn't make any of that fabricated shit true. Are you sure it's not just pride that's standing in your way?"

"I know what I saw and I love you, but I would appreciate it if you stay out of my marriage."

He sighed.

"Alright"

I was silent for a moment before I picked up my pen again. "It doesn't matter anyways. His sex life is no longer any of my business, just like mine isn't any of his."

"If you say so Haley, but I wanted to give you bit of heads up" he said.

"Heads up about what?" I asked him.

"Well, first I'm going to be gone for a few weeks I've got an interview about a job…details later oh and a bunch of photographers saw me making out with a guy"

I winced. It wasn't that it bothered me that he was gay. I thought it was great that he found someone new, but I knew the public were going to cast our relationship as a mistake and start focusing on David's reaction when he found out Jason was gay.

"I'll miss you" I said instead. He smiled.

"I'll be back and hopefully you and that hot" I glared at him "Person-I'm-not-going-to-name-because-the-look-on-your-face-actually-scares will work out that sexual tension" he winked.

"I'm not sleeping with my x" I told him "I'm pretty sure people who are getting divorced are not supposed to do that"

He shrugged.

"You're probably right. What do I know?" he said and then changed the subject fast to other things.

We spent the rest of the lunch talking about his date. According to him it was just a one-night stand type deal, but I had a feeling that it was a little more than that. I just wanted him to be happy. At the end of lunch I started to leave and Jason looked at me.

"Hales, I'm sorry I screwed up your plan…the whole fake up boyfriend thing" he said.

I shook my head.

"Don't be…I never should've lied to him. I hate him still, but I know now I should've been honest with him a long time ago…I never should've hid the fact that you were gay from him. It was wrong."

He hugged me.

"I'm proud of you Haley"

After lunch I picked Elizabeth up from school and took her home to where I'm sure David was still hiding from the press with our son. I thought it was weird that of all places he thought would be safe to stay was with me. All things considered it was an overall awkward situation. I didn't quite believe that he was trying to win me back because he would've done so much sooner. His career was more important to him than his family. Perhaps that was why he was trying so hard. He was on the brink of losing everything…and the only thing that could help is to let the world know he's still a family man. He'd play the sympathy card and then toss us away like yesterday's trash when he had what he needed. I wasn't going to let him do that. I would protect my own first before I ever really let that man back into our lives or my heart.

"Come on, Elizabeth." I sighed opening the taxi door to go into our building.

She stepped into the apartment and threw her backpack on the floor by the chair.

I turned around. "Excuse me, missy. Where does that go?" I raised my eyebrows at my daughter until she got the message and picked up her backpack, beginning the short walk to her bedroom. I sighed again and turned around to face David.

I started to shut the front door, David put his hand out and stopped it as gently as possible.

"Where's your boyfriend?" he asked carefully. I couldn't believe how weird that sounded coming from his mouth. Never, in a million years, did I think he'd be saying those words to me. They weren't even true either…not that I planned to explain that one to him.

Although I felt the natural instinct to, I couldn't muster up a good sarcastic or bitchy reply.

"Jason is working" I mumbled. "And Kristy wants to take the kids tonight…I don't have plans so I hope you plan on making yourself scarce seeing as I'd really rather not spend the night with you alone"

He raised his eyebrows at the idea and I brushed past him so I could pick up Hayden.

I was going to tell him about Jason—I really was, but I couldn't get myself to. I knew eventually when the story in the shelves he'd find out the truth, but in my defense I never actually did tell him that Jason and I were couple. Jason wasn't going to be happy about it, but I just couldn't do it. My thoughts and reasons from earlier that afternoon had disappeared.

David didn't make himself scarce after Kristy picked up the kids. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable by the circumstances she was leaving me in, but I told her it was fine. I'd figure out something to do.

I decided to go to Club Star for a bit and get a drink so I wouldn't have to think about my life. I didn't tell David where I was going. I didn't even tell him that I was leaving…I just did. He didn't say anything because he knew it was none of his business and I wasn't exactly in the mood to reopen old wounds.

It's strange how slow time passes when your avoiding something…or in my case someone. I was just angry and scared. I didn't like that he still had power over me. I didn't like it at all.

I downed shots like they were glasses of water and I was in the middle of the desert. The bartended had to cut me off after a while and Sam told me to wait for him to get me a cab. I was just sitting there in the stool by the bar minding my own business when I felt two hands grab arms roughly. I drunkenly tried to move out of the way. It was kind of pitiful actually. I was so drunk I could barely move let alone run away from the stranger who had grabbed me.

It was man with blue eyes and rough dangerous features. He must've been almost fifty. His skin was dark and his face looked like it was pulled down in a permanent frown.

"Rebbeca" he said. The music was so loud that I couldn't be sure this is what he said, but I found it to be more disturbing then the fact that he was clinging on to me.

Rebecca was my mother's name…and I was the spinning image of her. I stumbled back.

"I think you have my confused with someone else" I attempted to say, but things were getting fuzzy and the man was starting to pull me outside. Nobody seemed to notice this exchange. I began to panic, but my body wasn't connected to my mind and my initial instincts to runaway wouldn't catch up with me.

In the next moment I felt myself being yanked away from the man by another pair of hands—strong, safe, familiar hands. I let myself fall into them and the darker more brooding man ran away.

I looked up at David's scared stricken face and glowered.

"What are you stocking me now?" I slurred loudly. I knew now wasn't the time to be bitchy seeing as how he probably just saved my life, but I couldn't help it.

He glared at me, grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards the front exit. The next thing I knew he was putting us both in a cab and sending us back to the apartment.

"You didn't have to do that you know" I said, trying to suppress my drunken behavior so he wouldn't know how messed up I was.

"Clearly…you go out for one night, get wasted and almost kidnapped and lord knows what else could've happened if I hadn't scared that creep away"

"I can take care of myself" I said sourly. This is clearly wasn't true and I was thankful that he had showed up to save me, but I wasn't ready to let him know that.

"Well excuse me for caring" he growled, looking out the window.

I wasn't sure if it was the drinks or just the exhaustion and fear of what had just happened, but I let my guard down for a second.

"He called me Rebbecca" I whispered.

David looked at me knowingly.

"You think he knew your mother?" he asked.

"I can't imagine that she ever would've associated herself with someone like that, but yeah…and there was something familiar about him…I think…I think I've seen him before."

David's eyes narrowed protectively and I looked away. What was I doing bringing him into this?

"Haley has anything like this happened before?" he asked.

I thought for a minute back to that night when someone had chased me down an alley…I didn't want to tell him about this so I shook my head.

"You're lying" he said

"How do you know?" I asked bitterly.

"Because you're not good at it" he rolled his eyes.

"Fine…that night when you stood me up…when we were supposed to go to dinner and you left to help your girlfriend I walked home and someone started chasing me."

His eyes widened.

"Why didn't you ever tell me?" he demanded. "And what the hell were you thinking walking home in the middle of the night?"

I shrugged.

"Don't worry about it…as far as I'm concerned that's not your concern anymore."

His jaw clamped down firmly and he shook his head.

"Fine Haley, pretend like you hate me. I see that really works for you, but don't be an idiot and get yourself killed in the process."

"Look let's just pretend it never happened okay."

He scoffed and shook his head some more.

"What are you referring to exactly…what happened tonight with that man or our entire relationship."

I looked away from him, out the window.

"All of it" I whispered.

We didn't say anything else to each other for the rest of the night.

We were right next to each other…so close together and yet I never felt more separated from him.

The next morning the hangover kind of increased the feelings of stupidity and anger towards myself and towards David. I wasn't sure if he would really pretend that nothing happened last night, but I hoped for it.

He was fine though. He handed me a glass of water and Advil and then sat down at the table and read the paper. It was so routine and it was weird having him here without the children as a barrier.

"Haley…I"

I shook my head. I couldn't let last night change things between us. We were going to be divorced soon; he'd be out of my life. I shouldn't give him any hope that that was going to change.

"David if you're planning on sticking your nose into something that's none of your business again, and then I've got better things to do." I paused "In fact, no matter what you have to say I've got better things to be doing."

He rolled his eyes.

"Relax. I just want to apologize for the other night. I shouldn't have asked you about Jason like that. It was insensitive of me."

I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly, but thankful that he didn't bring up last night.

"It's really not that big of a deal. There's no need for our conversations to involve anything but the kids at this point, so I'll just try to block out everything else you say from now on." I shook my head. "Although I do find the fact that you've hooked up with God only knows how many women over the last year and still find it imperative to check up on my sex life to be a bit hypocritical."

David sighed. "You don't know anything about the last year of my life, Haley and I get that that's my fault; I do. I don't know about how yours was either, and I'm trying to make up for that now." He shook his head. "Just please stop pretending that you don't care about me."

"Don't tell me how I feel about you David. I actually don't care about you." I shot back.

The whole "strictly kids" plan wasn't panning out the way I'd hoped, but I knew it was because I always let myself get caught up in the moment when I was around David. I couldn't help myself. He'd always brought out the best and worst in me, and right now it was nothing but frustrating.

"That's not why I'm here." He began slowly.

"Then why are you here?"

The volumes of our voices rose considerably, and apparently Kristy had come home with the kids in the middle of it. Elizabeth came slowly into the living room to see what we were doing.

"Mommy?"

David and my eyes remained locked on one another. It was almost as if I was daring him to fabricate another question.

"Mommy?" Elizabeth said again, a bit louder.

My head snapped to my right. I sighed heavily. "Hey, baby."

"Good morning, Lizzie." David threw in.

"Do you have your stuff, Elizabeth? We've got to get you to school." I gave her a gentle push back towards the hallway and then stepped closer to the door, hoping she would move quickly.

Once she was out of the room, David spoke.

"I already told you why I'm here, Haley. And you don't believe me. That's okay though, because I will continue to tell you. I'll tell you every day for the rest of my life if I have to. I'm here because I love you, and I love our family. I made a huge mistake that I regret. And I don't think its right for you to dedicate the rest of your life to penalizing me for that mistake."

I rolled my eyes. "You really are self-centered. Not everything is about you, you know."

"Oh, drop the act," David answered, making sure to keep his voice down low. "Acting like a bitch is not going to make me go away; nothing is. And it certainly isn't going to succeed in convincing yourself that you don't love me anymore because I know you do. And so do you."

I narrowed my eyes at him. I was just about to come back with some smartass comment when Elizabeth returned with her backpack. I scoffed once at David and then opened the door so that Elizabeth, Landon and I could leave.

"Bye, Daddy." Elizabeth gave David a long hug and told him she'd see him soon.

"I love you, Lizzie," David called as we walked out the door.

Elizabeth turned around and smiled. "I love you, too, Daddy. And I'm really glad you're back. This is where you belong."