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Milli looked over when Nathan came in, feeling a little better thankfully when he scooped up their daughter. She sighed out,
“Still sore, I took painkillers though.” She murmured quietly. She kissed Evelyn’s cheek.
“I can’t pick her up.” She confessed quietly, feeling like a disappointment or a let down. She couldn’t even pick up her own daughter! She was a touch frustrated at that but she knew there was no need to be.
“I’ll make breakfast.” Milli said to Nathan and kissed his cheek, resting her head on his shoulder as their daughter clapped and seemed to squeal a little with fits of giggles. Milli headed downstairs, starting on breakfast and it was a lot slower than usual. She eventually played up and she had to say she felt a little stiff and achey. Milli sat at the table just as Bradley came down and she hugged the boy close,
“Morning.” She said to him softly and kissed his cheek before plating him some pancakes.
She gave a soft groan as she stretched and rubbed her eyes, picking at some of her own breakfast. The painkillers really didn’t do great for her appetite as she looked Nathan and Evelyn.
“Sorry, I feel useless.” She said to Nathan with a small shrug, she didn’t know how she could help or how she could be less useless.
“A secret artist?” He repeated with a chuckle, smiling back at Milli. Things seemed as normal as could be in that moment at least. It was an interesting concept. Nathan had no intention of abandoning his art altogether of course. He would still paint; he just wasn’t sure about putting it out there. Maybe a break would do him some god, give him time to come up with something new and fresh; something exciting. He had time to think about it at least and it was nice to know that Milli was on his side and would support him through this all. She was such a strong woman; he couldn’t understand how she could even question his love for her. The women he surrounded himself were gorgeous, but they were models; isn’t that what was expected? It wasn’t anything truly captivating to him, unless he found himself working on a new piece and then – well the model kind of folded into what he needed to complete his piece. Milli was different, her beauty like the first bit of sunshine after a long week of rain.
Gently his hand brushed over her face as he noticed she drifted to sleep. Worry caused him to stay up a bit to watch her, making sure that she would be fine through the night. He’d soon fallen asleep, every now and then aware of Milli’s sight tossing and turning.
Evelyn looked up at her mother curious, a small pout as she found herself still reaching for Milli, not understanding of course in her condition it would take same time before she had the strength to pick her up. Nathan couldn’t ask for anything better than sleeping in, though he still woke up a bit cranky, not surprised Milli not in bed. He’d checked through his messages briefly, everyone concerned for Milli. The news was dying down like most gossip, but that hadn’t stopped Milli’s fans from being a bit harsh on the young model’s social media page.
After a trip to wash up in the bathroom Nathan exited the bedroom and headed downstairs, his mind on coffee. He’d paused by to see Milli in Evelyn’s room.
“My two favorite girls,” he said with a smile as he walked over and kissed Milli’s cheek, wishing her a good morning. He leaned down to pick up Evelyn then before being bombarded with wet kisses; he leaned in so that Milli could get kisses of her own.
“How’re you feeling?” He asked her, she didn’t look much better, but the crash had been recent of course.
Milli watched him, feeling his lips and it was a soft reassurance that he was still there with her. She listened to him and sighed softly,
“I thought the same about you.” She murmured, she had truly believed she had lost him in so many ways and maybe that’s why she struggled to cope and think clearly. It wasn’t his fault though, she was so high strung lately and she knew it was just Julia’s way of getting to her constantly. She watched him, furrowing her brow and knowing he hated the spotlight and the events.
“What if you become an anonymous exhibitor?” She asked him quietly shifting slightly closer to him, her damaged side guarded by the mattress as she placed a hand on his chest in the darkness, anything to feel close to him.
“You still paint, you can even still teach but you wouldn’t have to go to the events and no one would know it’s your art. Well, I would know.” She murmured and leaned up to kiss his cheek.
“A secret artist.” She said softly, “You could ask Sharon to still manage you but it would be secret, anonymous. You could paint what you like, still have exhibits but you wouldn’t have to go.” She said thoughtfully. Maybe in the years to come he would reveal himself as the artist behind some of the masterpieces.
Milli felt more comfortable being attached to him despite it not quite being the same as when she was in good health. She closed her eyes and before she could say anything else, she was asleep. Her sleep was fitful, not quite a good rest as images flashed in of the crash. She gave a sharp inhale as she woke in the morning, blinking around. It hurt. She sat up, giving a soft groan of displeasure. Painkillers, right. She slowly peeled herself from the bed and wrapped a robe around her form, heading downstairs to find her painkillers, taking two. She could hear Evelyn chattering and she headed up to see her,
“Hey.” She said and she knew she didn’t have the upper body to pick her up right then. She sighed and leaned over, trying all the same but the tug and strain on her upper body caused her to set the young girl back down again.
“I’m sorry.” She said softly, feeling defeated.
Nathan watched as her figure slowly made its way to the dressers, shifting through the clothing before finding something suitable to war and not as bothersome or constricting. He sat up then, with every intention to help should she ask, which he knew that she wasn’t. He didn’t know if Milli would sleep with him that night or take up in the extra bed downstairs. Yet, after a painful and slow change, he watched as she got into bed beside him. He kept his hands to himself, though he did think about stroking her hair, his side cold from where she would usually be cradled against him. The lights were dim, barley a slip of moonlight entering through the window to cast an illuminating highlight against Milli’s bruises.
Was he alright?
He reached his hand out gently, his thumb brushing over her cheeks and lips before he leaned in to give her a soft kiss. It felt nothing like Saoirse – Milli didn’t taste like liquor. Lightly he rested his forehead against her forehead. “I was scared I lost you,” he said, and he was referring to more than just the car accident. “I know you want to pretend this won’t hold you back, but I just want you to take your time is all.” He admitted to her. Nathan sighed out and pulled away, laying on his side so as to watch her. with everything that had happened so far, Nathan had put into context what mattered. “I’m thinking, maybe this would be my last exhibit,” he finally said to her. He didn’t want Milli to blame herself or feel like he’d made this decision on her behalf, but in some aspects, he just wasn’t sure if he worked well in the spotlight. He wanted to take his art back, something more personal and meaningful.
Milli knew Egypt wasn’t going anywhere. She knew it was foolish to rush herself but she still felt like she would be alright. Then again she didn’t want to just sit around and watch everything roll past her. She ushered Bradley upstairs to get ready for bed and promised him a story. She knew eventually he would outgrow storytime and she hoped it never happened, secretly wanting to keep him young but she also wanted to see what kind of a man he would grow into.
“Where did we get to, Hm?” She asked as she sat on the bed and read him a chapter of his book, tucking him in and watching as he fell asleep, slipping a bookmark in to where they had gotten to. She kissed his forehead and checked in on Evelyn, content to see her falling asleep. Milli heard the shower in her and Nathan’s room, unsure if he would want her in the bed or not.
She hesitantly entered and watched him get into bed. Getting undressed and into fresh comfortable clothing proved to be a slow affair and a painful one. Her body was littered in bruises, the area around her ribs was worst affected but she got changed as quickly as she possibly could. She gasped softly as a movement stole away her breath and she sighed out. She looked to Nathan as she gingerly got into bed, looking to him. The mattress seemed to cradle her sore side as she turned and was grateful for the dim light right then, seeming to ease her sore head.
“Are you alright?” She asked Nathan quietly, the bedroom always seeming their private place to speak honestly.
“I’m just saying we don’t have to rush. Egypt isn’t going anywhere.” Nathan said to Milli. He knew what she was like. He knew that she hated sitting around and certainly didn’t think anyone should be waiting on her hand and foot. She was not going to let this beat her that was for certain. Still, Nathan didn’t see any point in her pushing herself too hard, she’d only just got out of the hospital a few hours ago not to mention the fact that she could have a concussion. Nathan looked down at her hand as it held his. He wanted to trust Milli knew what was best for her, but he just didn’t want to risk anything. If anything, he'd want to speak with her doctor before going anywhere.
Once dinner was finished, Bradley and Milli had begun to clear the dishes away. Bradley was maturing so quickly and everything in Nathan was screaming for time to slow down. He worried for the day when Bradley would be of to college or the travel the world, whatever he decided to do at that pinnacle point of adulthood.
“You stay as young as possible,” he urged Evelyn who only smiled back at him. He soon cleaned her up, placing her on the carpet to roll off her dinner as he started to clean up the books and toys from the living room. By the time he had Eve tucked under her covers, he was ready to get in bed. Though he wasn’t sure if he could fall asleep, nor wasn’t sure if he felt comfortable sleeping in bed with Milli. He wanted her to have her rest and worried about getting too close or hugging her too tight considering her injuries. Not to mention things still felt a bit off and maybe because Nathan was upset that Milli had gone off the handles before giving him a chance to explain. That said, he didn’t think that he wasn’t in the wrong for not telling her; he just wished she thought more of him and more of herself.
He soon showered, hoping it would cure the headache he had. He was running low on his prescription which he needed to renew soon. He could already feeling himself getting wound up. trying to relax he got into the bed then, hoping he could talk some sense into Milli about the trip.
Milli looked at dinner and honestly, she knew she was hungry but the effort of eating was a real block. Bradley watched her before reaching over and cutting her chicken for her in silence snd Milli smiled at him, he was such a sweet boy. She looked up at Nathan as he spoke.
“We’re not changing anything.” She remarked. She knew right then she looked a mess. The bruises would start to fade soon enough. She did notice Nathan struggled to look at her properly.
Milli reaches out and took his hand,
“I’ll recover, we’re still going to Egypt.” She promised and thought about Julia’s wedding. She knew that the woman only wanted them there for the press. She paused and seemed to lose track of what she was thinking about as she ate a little. She would phone the hospital and doctors for advice tomorrow, they’d be able to help surely.
Milli finished up most of her dinner, thanks to Bradley helping and encouraging her. She got to her feet and shuffled over to the sink. Dishes, she could do. It was a lot slower than normal, but she wanted to help. She d I don’t want to sit around useless and leave everything to everyone else. She wanted to recover and there was nothing to be done for broken ribs and so keeping active wasn’t a bad idea. It was the concussion that proved the tricky factor.
“I know,” he whispered as she pulled away. Nathan didn’t need to hear it but was glad that Milli explained. How could anyone think that she would have any reason to end her life? Of course, you could never be sure what anyone was going through, but he lived with Milli. He watched her wipe away tears after every negative pregnancy test and how she looked to Bradley fondly and with so much love – how she looked at Nathan that way. He didn’t and couldn’t ever believe that she would’ve attempted to take her own life. He watched as she made her way to the table to have a seat. Bradley had begun to help by setting the table. He’d explained the crash and Bradley seemed to comprehend it. His biggest worry had been if Milli would stay alive and while jarring to hear his eleven year old son ask that question, Nathan still went ahead and answered.
Dinner finally finished, he made everyone’s plates, being careful about Milli’s portions, knowing she probably wasn’t up to eating a lot, but she had to eat something. He sighed out and took a seat at the table. He’d mashed up some carrots and sweet potatoes for Evelyn was a growing girl. She had such a fun personality, her eyes always swimming around. She was curious about everything and had this effect on him that Milli often did; nothing mattered when he looked into those eyes.
“I’ll figure out getting the tickets uh changed or refunded,” he said then, knowing their vacation was put on hold. “And I think it best of course we don’t attend Julia’s wedding.” It was interesting then how she still could pique into their life. They’d decent savings, but Milli would be out of work for a while. Nathan figured he could hold off on working on the teaching gig for the next few weeks. His eyes looked to Milli, though not for long. Maybe things would be easier when the bruises faded, and the bandages were gone.
Milli wanted to help, something to not be useless. She watched Nathan she felt vulnerable, stupid even.
“I didn’t do it deliberately.” Milli said as he held her to him, knowing full well what rumours had stated. This hadn’t been an attempt to end everything. She wouldn’t have ever been able to do that, not to Nathan d sad bed not to the kids. Nathan had changed, he didn’t drink anymore and although Milli could tell when he was angry, he never gave into it.
Milli gently untangled urself from him, not to reject him but because she felt sore all over. She sat in the chair and managed to at least pour out some water and juice for everyone.
“I’m sorry.” She murmured and looked to Nathan. She meant it. His explanation made sense. Saiorse was new to the Industry and of course all of them made mistakes. Nathan didn’t have to forgive her right away. Milli just wanted for things to go well between them.
Bradley cane over, looking at dinner curiously and Milli smiled at him a little. He looked just like Nathan and she kissed the boys cheek,
“Think you can help us out for a while?” Milli asked. She was glad Bradley wasn’t afraid of her appearance and he was growing up into a fine young man. Milli wanted to stay awake until the night, which proved difficult when all she wanted was to sleep away the pain.
His arms were crossed over his chest. Nathan was shaking some from fury. Everything he’d done these last few months had been for Milli and the children, they had become his life – easily overpowering his passion for art. Had he some regret about stepping out of the contract with Saoirse and had he resented Milli? Yes, but that resentment faded, and he would do it over and over again if it would somehow make Milli happy – somehow keep their marriage intact.
“You’re more than good enough – Milli you’re [I everything]. I wasn’t always this man, you made me into this man and every day I try my hardest to be the man that you deserve to be with.” She didn’t deserve a drunk or a man with an anger problem – he’d changed those things about him. He’d grown as a father and now he was trying to be the best husband he could be for her. Yes, there would be a hiccup – that was his life, things were constantly spun to from small truths to big lies.
“She was drunk and alone. I took her home and she kissed me. That’s all there is to it.” He said. She looked like she could barely stand, and her shoulders sagged with wait. He knew she had to be tired and all this talking certainly was not making it any easier. “Yes, you can sit down. Please Milli.” Nathan had placed his hand gently at her back, but it felt numb – with what was going on between the two of them, things just seemed so strange. If this continued, would they be able to get through it> Could they deal with having this same fight over and over?
His grip tightened as he saw her face scrunch some at a sudden ache and he felt terrible. He could’ve lost her and here they were talking about some woman. Nathan didn’t say anything, his heart tight and his throat burning then. He just held her against him – willing the love they had for one another to come afloat and remind them both why they said I do in the place.
Milli flinched a little at his words about other girls and it had nothing to do with the pain she felt, this was a different pain, a more deep rooted one that had taken up home in her heart and she didn’t know how to get rid of it. She dint know what she wanted to hear from him. She wasn’t sure anything he could say would help her in trying to break away the thick chains she had managed to get tangled in somehow. Milli was silent for a while but she watched Nathan, resisting the urge to stand and wrap her arms around him, mostly because she knew that would hurt like a bitch.
“I just-“ She started but couldn’t finish, afraid almost of what she might say.
“I want to know I’m enough.” She murmured finally and realised how lame that sounded and how empty. Nathan had become her everything, her entire life was her husband and the children and she didn’t want it any other way.
“I’m sorry, I’m not.... myself.” She mumbled and feebly gestured to the bandages. Food smelled enticing, mostly because she could remember the last time she had eaten before the accident and since the accident had taken nothing but water and some juice at the hospital. She felt useless.
“Can I help?” She asked quietly. She knew there wasn’t much she could do, not in her state and she knew things were frosty between them.
Milli shut her eyes because everything seemed too bright and too demanding right then, the ache behind her eyes that seemed to seep straight to her head was agonising.
He could hear Milli coming down the stairs, her breathing a bit ragged and the sound of her feet against the wooden stairs slow and heavy, though probably not intentionally. He’d managed to get the blood to stop in the meantime. It wasn’t that deep, and he had nothing to really paint in the meantime, wouldn’t hurt so bad to give his hand a wrist. He ushered Bradley not the living room, giving Milli more space to move about the kitchen. He couldn’t meet her eye, though it did feel good to know that she cared enough to make sure his hand was alright. Lately what Bradley was and wasn’t willing to eat was becoming a longer lost – chicken being his prime favorite right now. He had his back to Milli preparing it, pausing to close his eyes at the sharp intake of air. His shoulders sagged then, he hated that she was in pain. Not to mention the news wasn’t making it any better. He’d already seen the shots; he’d heard the flustered phone call from the pedestrian that’d reported the accident and all. These were memories of Milli he didn’t want to keep and certainly not ones that he wanted to risk the kids seeing. Fortunately, Bradley was playing his game, none the wiser when Milli had changed the channel.
Julia. Of course, she had a hand in this. Nathan had thought Milli was beyond letting her venomous dialogue seep into her mind and yet somehow Julia’s name came up every time it seemed.
“I don’t know hat you want me to say Milli,” Nathan said as he finished placing the chicken in the oven. He washed his hands, turning around to face her. “Every last one of them, every girl I’ve ever painted I’ve gone to bed with them. Is that what you want to hear?” It was a lie of course. “You make it seem like you’re just some girl – some model when you’re not. You’re Milli, my Milli. My wife!” Nathan calmed down some, his hands running through his hair.
Milli looked up as she heard voices and smiled to Bradley, motioning she was coming down. She got to her feet, hoping the second time would be the charm with her attempts. Going down the stairs was much easier than going up, which made sense as Milli grabbed the handrail, a limp to her features and she thanked Bradley for the water as he handed it to her. She looked to Nathan and frowned a little at his curse, usually she would playfully remind him that the kids were like sponges but there was no playfulness right then.
Foggy memories washed over her for a moment of the beeping of the paramedics radios, the voices. She shook it off. The painkillers seemed to keep the worst pain at bay and she set her glass down, eyeing Nathan’s hand. Had she been hasty? It didn’t matter either way because she still cared for the man, she still loved him truly and she knew that wouldn’t ever go away.
“Here.” She murmured, hesitantly. There was a definite fear of touching him, as if he might turn her away or reject her. She pulled out a small towel and inspected his hand. He’d bandaged it and she sighed softly,
“Sorry.” She murmured, not meaning to betray the worry she felt. He was still the father of her child. Milli made to turn and hissed out, discovering that sharp movements only served for a world of pain and agony as she cradled her side. Bad idea, she made a note to remember and breathed through it. Her eyes went to the television, it hurt to watch with her head the way it was but she could make out the fuzzy images of the car accident. The car was wrecked, the side Milli had been driving with crushed inwards.
A passerby has snapped some photos of the emergency services and Milli slumped over the wheel with the airbags deployed. Milli didn’t remember it, and the photos only served to cause white hot pain when she tried to remember it. She switched it over after fumbling with the remote to something the kids could watch. Milli watched empty space for a while before bumping back to reality.
“Julia told me.” She said quietly, remembering the exhibition.
“Described you perfectly when you paint women.” She murmured softly. “Called it bed eyes and described how you move their hair.” She whispered as she played with the rim of the glass of water.
The kiss from Saoirse had made him realize just how much he loved Milli. Of course, he had been stimulated by the model’s kiss, but it only further proved to Nathan that there was no one else for him but Emilia. Of course, Saoirse was beautiful and when he saw her, did the testosterone in him drive Nathan to have slight feelings for her? Yes, but on a physical level that soon disappeared the minute he put his brush to canvas. It didn’t last long, a simple lucid wet dream if you would. Milli was real though, a constant source of love and lust that he got to go home to every night. He sighed out in frustration that they were talking about this, that they both were actually considering taking a break from one another. She was shutting him out and Nathan, as stubborn and petty as he could be, was allowing her to out of hurt
He watched as she silently left the room, to looking back and not backing down from her decision. What could he do? He couldn’t lash out. He had the kids to watch over and he certainly couldn’t drink. Could he? What did it matter to be loyal to his word if his own wife didn’t seem to care what he did? Nathan had sat at the table alone, staring into nothing as though trying to collect his own thoughts.
It wasn’t hard to keep busy with the kids there at least. He was numb in a sense but trying his hardest to put on a brave face. This was not how he saw his life turning out – his marriage. How had one single night managed to destroy all they had built? In all honesty, like a little boy he wanted badly to run away. The kids weren’t all too pleased that Milli wasn’t around and Bradley was checking on her throughout her nap. Nathan had a long conversation with Michael who was trying to convince him to just take it slow and work it out. He knew the two loved one another and if they made a permanent decision from a temporary situation, they would regret it. He had to see it from Milli’s standpoint, Michael instructed.
It was nearing the evening and Nathan tried to busy his mind with making dinner, Bradley in the kitchen helping him.
“I’ll check on mum,” he said as the timer Nathan set for him went off. Of course, he cared about her health – of course he wanted to help her through this, but if Milli didn’t want him around how could he fight it without hurting her and himself?
“Shit,” he muttered, not paying attention and knocking himself good with the knife. Nathan quickly bandaged it up, Bradley soon running into the kitchen for water.
Milli watched Nathan as he spoke, an arm loosely wrapped around her own waist as if to shield it from further hurt. His words stung and honestly she didn’t know what to believe anymore right that moment. Her mind wasn’t processing information right then, at least not properly.
“I knew there was something different last night-“ She cut off and sighed, keeping her voice quiet mostly because she couldn’t get any louder given everything felt like it was robbing strength.
“I’m the ghost?” She asked him as she shakily got to her feet. That was a lie and a low blow. Milli hadn’t even looked at another man since meeting Nathan. He had been the only man to ever make her feel beautiful, to pull her from Julia’s shadows and she watched him. It wasn’t worth the fight anymore, and that terrified her.
“I need to lie down, you do what you want.” She murmured as she could feel everything was starting to hurt. She checked the time and figured a couple of painkillers would steal away some of the pain. Maybe she had changed, and maybe it wasn’t for the better but she wasn’t going to feel guilty this time.
Milli headed upstairs, painfully slowly because the stairs proved to be a mountain of a task. Thankfully there was a spare bed in Evelyn’s room from when she was newborn and first moving into the cot. Milli hugged a pillow gingerly to herself and she would have wept if she had the energy. The painkillers had fallen on an empty stomach which seemed to help her sleep, at least for an hour or so.
She awoke, mouth dry as she figured she should get water. Milli used a crutch to lever herself up and winced, taking a moment to get her breath together. This was a disaster. Milli sank back onto the bed and tilted her head back. She felt like shit, everything hurt and her marriage hung in the balance, teetering. She loved Nathan with every fibre of her being but she wasn’t sure she could get past this.
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