Authors Note: I am finally wanting to write some original fic again and had this one shot sitting around half-complete for ages until I decided it can be a 21st birthday present for my dear Helen (FreekyDisaster18) since I have nothing else to offer. Hope to have longer ones/chapter stories at some point in the future. Happy birthday, and to other readers, please enjoy.
It did not matter how angry he was with her right now because her legs were still the greatest distraction he knew and at that moment she was unzipping the knee-high boot she was wearing which just accentuated them even more.
After twenty-four years of marriage the little irksome things were culminating in furious arguments – the latest of which was this weekend away to Venice which their eldest son had bought for them. His darling Katherine had hoped he would refuse, she pretty much expected him to outright say no, and that was exactly why he agreed. They had only arrived that morning and she had walked out of the restaurant during dessert because he had quickly checked his mobile phone while waiting.
"You know how much that annoys me back home so what possessed you to do that tonight?"
"I don't know, maybe it was better than the alternative which was silent hostility with a side of glares."
"I am so sorry for taking you from your new tart. How many hot texts have you exchanged since the plane landed?"
Katherine hated how she and Nick had became, they once had been a popular couple to follow; guitarist in a successful band and the photographer that captured their entire beings. Now he had turned to the production end of the business and was spending an inexcusable amount of time 'working' which she interpreted as sleeping with either the clichéd secretary or one of the girl groups, and she was truly hurt even though they had hardly acted like a couple for some time.
Nick was showing his forty-plus years on his face these days but Katherine was attracted to him more for his looks instead of his personality - the opposite of how it had first started.
"Katherine , is this seriously what this is all about? You think I am screwing somebody else?!"
"I seem to remember you were quite fond of finding new conquests when I first met you guys."
He shook his head in disbelief and began to pace around the splendid room.
"I have not had any sort of sexual encounter with anyone and hey, I have had plenty of offers, but I hold on to some twisted belief that you and I should be together."
She was going out on locations for photography much more these days as her reputation for taking beautiful scenery shots increased, and she loved the tranquillity of the beaches and hills as it made her momentarily forget about her marital problems and the emptiness that the house brought out since their children had moved out. The had three – two boys and their precious daughter – who still thought the people who had brought them up were living happily in their childhood house.
Katherine had not taken professional photographs of musicians since becoming a mother because she felt as though that was for younger ones who were trying to quickly make their first steps in the industry, just like she had. When she finally got back to her career after the first years of the kids' lives editors snapped her up immediately but it slowed when they found out she did not want to do the same type of portfolio, so she had to all but restart from the bottom. It had worked out well for her and although she was freelance there were large contracts signed for which made her feel more comfortable in the current financial climate.
"Fine, check my phone, see all of these texts I apparently send and receive," he said, holding his smart-phone out for her.
"You probably delete them as soon as possible."
"Oh yeah, because the man who breaks a TV by pressing one button knows how to be that clever on a fancy device like this." Finally a hint of amusement broke through her tough exterior at the memories of all the technical disasters he had been involved in but she masked it hastily.
She took the phone from him which he had already opened his message inbox on for her and looked for any name she didn't recognise until she reached the end with nothing to prove her suspicions.
"Katherine, the reason I look at my phone so often is because it reminds me of when we were never happier than times with each other. Check the wallpaper." She pressed the home button and saw herself and Nick aged twenty-two staring back. Instantly she recognised the picture as it was from their honeymoon to Australia – it was actually his band's tour but they had married two weeks prior so they doubled the journey's reasons. It had lasted a month and during those days and the ten months afterwards they were inseparable. Then the pregnancies began and their moods depended on that of the babies.
They were standing in front of Ayers Rock and their arms were wrapped around their new spouse, looking like nothing could ever come between the smiles.
"The screensaver comes on after twenty seconds and it is the five of us when we all got together last time at Christmas. None of the three noticed that we barely spoke in the morning then the alcohol took effect and we were acting like we used to. I miss you Katherine. I know I should love my own flesh-and-blood more than anything but even now - with all the things I tell you that make you think otherwise – I love you the most."
Katherine was yet to take her eyes off the screen. They shared a bed most evenings but they had not made love in the six months since that festive period and she missed the sense of being complete that he gave her and the security of his strong arms encasing her curves. She wiped away a couple of stray tears that were dropping from her pale cheeks and tucked her dark hair back behind her ears.
"You saying all this Nick won't save everything. We cannot just erase the past few years and go back to our early twenties."
He ran a hand across his face, noting the stubble that was present on his jawline, and sat down on the queen-size bed. There was silence before he took a deep intake of breath and spoke, "I know. I have to tell you why I've been so awful, this past year especially. I have no money; nobody wants their album produced by a washed-up guitarist, and the ones who do are completely shit. The company is going under and each night you assumed I was having an affair I was either trying to fix things in the studio or in a bar, drinking the terror away. I am broke and had no idea how to tell you that we're in this trouble." Neither of them noticed how much he was playing with his wedding ring, an old tell of his for when he was nervous or slightly frightened of what lay ahead.
"Do not include me in these 'trouble' stakes. And if there is one thing I have learnt it's that we can come back fighting and you can begin again at something."
Nick smirked at her ironically, "You always try to see the light at the end of the tunnel but this is darker than anything before. I have nothing to restart with! I don't know what to do Kit."
The smile that erupted on her lips was the first in a very long time and it felt incredible. "You haven't called me Kit in... it must be fifteen years. Nobody else ever has. Oh, and do you not look at our joint back accounts? I have a successful job and get paid money for it."
By this point she had knelt down in front of him and laced their fingers together tentatively. Kit, the nickname he had given her during their first meeting rolled off his tongue like he had never stopped saying it.
"I know how great your photos are, Christ I google your name every other day to see anything new because they are honestly spellbinding, but a couple of hundred here and there isn't going to do a single thing to help." She had got it spot on though about not looking at their joint balance, focussing on the business one and the one he still had personally.
He slowly ran his thumb across her cheek, remembering how perfect his skin was compared to his worn shell.
"I don't know when you got so self-absorbed but my name is one of the first companies think of for advertisement photography. There is a heck of a lot of money stored away that I have no plans for. I wish you had just told me though, I wouldn't have had to imagine you doing certain acts to someone thinner, blonder and younger. It's been bloody torture Nick and I don't know if I hate you! I do love you and will do for the remainder of my life though."
He stared at her for a long time, not quite believing what she was saying, suddenly feeling pride swell inside him at the woman he adored no matter what.
"Please try not to hate me; I hate myself enough for the both of us. I was terrified that you would see the man I had become and that you would leave."
"I wanted to leave you anyway you stupid fool! I don't care if you are poor or that you need help, I needed to know you still cared about me... about us."
Nick slowly leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her lips, the wetness from her tears transferring to his mouth, nose and cheeks but only feeling the warmth and familiarity that came with it.
"Is there any chance you have a job available for an ex-rock star who had no clue how breathtaking his wife was before this night, and knows absolutely nothing about photography outside of those disposable cameras we bought the kids?"
She laughed as she rubbed her eyes and face dry, "With no experience I think the only possibility would be someone to fetch coffee for the boss and maybe occasionally come home and snuggle with said boss for a change." He twirled a strand of her loose hair around his fingers and nodded. He would do anything she asked in order to make up for everything he had caused.
"I forgot how adorable you could be," she muttered as she nuzzled into the hollow of his neck, "I'm only kidding about that being the only requirements of your new job – along with coffee and spooning in bed I wonder if you would consider being assistant manager or co-owner? You would have absolutely no say in the actual pictures or shoots as you're awful at that and I would end up with thousands of dogs in party hats or something just as hideous. But you would be my partner and you could find any weak points in the business and help fix them. I've wanted you to take an interest in my company since day one but you were always too busy and I hope it's not too late."
She regretted saying so much so soon after the beginning of their reconciliation but she was excited at the prospect of this. Knowing it was still a long shot that he would accept since he still thought he was treading on eggshells she looked deep into his brown eyes, conveying he could say whatever he truly felt about the proposal and she would get them through this patch in another way.
"It is never too late when we are involved. I would love that Kit. And I may be naïve when it comes to the money you earn but I do search for your name online and in magazines an awful lot. I am your secret groupie."
"I like the sound of that! By the way you still call yourself an ex-rock star, bit misleading isn't it? You boys had one mediocre song and lived of those royalties until people began to realise that it was not as magical as they had first thought and they didn't like the heavy drum and bass any more."
Katherine had always mocked his band and although he knew it was a joke it had a basis in the truth. They weren't even sought after for reality TV shows or nostalgic one-off music concerts which had been the reason he had turned to the production and bankruptcy side. She saw the glimmer of how he felt flash across his features and she softly whispered reassuring comments into his ear, all the time distracting him more and more with kisses as she stood up and began to push them back, finally having something to thank their son for over this holiday.