The steam from the shower created a dense fog in the bathroom, covering the mirror with a layer of moisture. Deacon used his hand and made a slow swipe across the reflecting surface, revealing his broad shoulders and splash of dark curls, both damp. A towel fit snugly around his waist, and he stood for a moment studying his features, noticing a few more grey hairs at his temples and soft, barely noticeable wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. He knew immediately what had triggered these small changes.
It had been weeks since Sara had given him any notice. The would stay up most nights lying awake in bed and talk in the darkness of their room, making plans for their future. Now, it had seemed like weeks since their last real conversation. Any time Deacon tried to talk to his wife, she feigned a more important task that needed her attention.
He dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, his attire of choice for a lazy weekend and exited the bathroom to find Sara. He had to figure out what was wrong and make it right.
Deacon found her curled up on the couch, quietly reading in front of the large brick fireplace.
“Good morning, babe,” Deacon announced, softly kissing the top of her head.
“Mm-hmm,” replied Sara.
Deacon sighed internally. Not today, he thought.
“So what’s the plan for today? Maybe we could go for a hike at the mountain?” Deacon offered, rounding the corner of the couch and sitting where Sara had her feet tucked under a blanket.
Sara quickly pulled her feet in, avoiding contact with Deacon’s thigh. Her chestnut eyes went slightly wide at the suggestion of the hike.
“A hike? Today?” Sara stammered.
“Yeah, why not? The weather is perfect and getting out of the house might do us both some good.”
“What is that supposed to mean… some good?” Sara’s defensiveness was not lost on Deacon.
“I think we need some time together, just the two of us.” Deacon explained.
“We’re together now, isn’t that enough?”
Deacon leaned in, a look of concern crossed his face. Sara sat straight up and leaned back, slightly lifting her chin in an offensive stance.
“Sara, what is going on?” His concern sounding more like a plea for understanding.
“Nothing.” Her brows furrowed and a subtle shake of her head told Deacon that this was not going to be easy.
“We barely talk, we are never intimate, and you avoid me like I’m infectious. Something is going on. Did I do something wrong?”
Sara sat very still, her coppery waves cast shadows across her face from the morning sun streaming through the bay window. He could tell she had something to say, something to confess, but she sat quietly only staring into the two emeralds staring back at her. He wanted answers, and she was not ready to give them or not willing, which one, she wasn’t sure. If she told him the truth, he may never forgive her, but if she denied everything all together, he would eventually break.
It had been eleven years and they had spent those years growing together, making friends, and building a life together. But eleven years was far too long to live this lie. Sara was finding it harder to hold up her end of the bargain. She was ready to leave this life and live the life she had always dreamed of; it was her turn. But a promise was a promise and Deacon… well, he was Deacon. He had provided for them and he took care of her, loving her unconditionally despite her recent behavior. He was her best friend and she loved him.
Ellie had promised her that she would learn to love Deacon, but she just wasn’t in love with him and never would be. Yet, here he was, searching her eyes, looking for reassurance that they were going to be okay, that whatever the issue was, they would get through it.
Ellie had loved Deacon too. She loved him so much that she could not break his heart, but she also could not spend her life with him. And Sara loved her sister and would do anything to make her happy, after all, they were identical twins. Switching places with her was the only way to ensure her happiness and save Deacon’s feelings. He had time and time again confessed his love for Ellie (and Sara) to the point that he was convinced that his life would be nothing without her. How could she leave him, how could she break his heart? What would happen if she left?
“Sara, please talk to me. What can I do to help?” Deacon’s pleas pulled at her heart.
A dull ache started in her chest and the air seemed almost too thick to breathe making her lungs heavy. A small smile found its way to her lips and she set the book down and took Deacon’s face in her hands. She had to ease this pain, not only for him but for her as well.
“We’re fine. I promise.” She touched her soft, full lips to his and smiled. “We’re going to be fine. I just need some time. Work has had me stressed and maybe I just need a change.”
Deacon’s face relaxed in her hands and relief washed across his features.
“Whatever you need.” He promised.
“I know, thank you.” The ache in her heart grew as she realized nothing was going to change.
She could not reveal the truth, it had gone on too long, and she had to protect Ellie. The heaviness in her chest slowly released and gave way to emptiness at the realization that this was the life she chose.
She took a slow, quiet inhale and said, “Let’s go take that hike. It will do us both some good.”
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