Danny wrapped his arms around Laura as she wept. “Laura, why didn’t you tell me this a long time ago? So much damn pain could have been avoided.”
“Because I was ashamed, trapped and isolated.” She pulled away from him, embarrassed at losing control of her feelings in front of him. “It was my problem, not yours and I should never have involved you in my life as much as I did. I’m sorry Danny, I didn’t intend to fall in love with you or to hurt you.”
They both stood but when he tried to hold her she turned away. “I have to get hold of myself Danny. I’ll be back in a minute, let me wash this misery off my face and we can talk some more. I just need a few minutes alone.”
“Okay Laura Jane, I’ll be here for as long as it takes. We have some things we need to decide.”
He watched her climb the stairs and wondered how many times she had done this, washed her tears away as if they didn’t really matter but the thought made him feel helpless and angry. The more he thought of Laura’s endless days and nights, living without love or hope, the more enraged he became. The thought of that man even touching Laura made his blood run hot and he wasn’t sure how long he could tolerate knowing the truth of her life without paying a long overdue visit to Michael. In fact, he knew they would cross paths very soon.
When she came back a few minutes later, she stood in front of him and caressed his jawline, like she did so many tiems that summer they became lost in each other. “I do love you so much. You know this don’t you?” She reached in and kissed his lips gently.
Danny felt his heart flutter, the same way it had that day in Nutty’s barn when she walked in with the apples and looked in his eyes. There was something about her honesty, a vulnerability that flooded every dark area of his soul with a light so bright it made everything else disappear. Nothing mattered or existed when they were together. Nothing. “I know you do and if I have to say it a thousand times I love you too, forever, undying and true Laura Jane. I need you, you need me and we have to solve this problem we have. I’m not leaving here again without you, do you understand?” He held her head in his hands, kissing her deeply, lingering as long as it took to become breathless.
For the first time she didn’t protest or fight her desire, she simply wrapped her arms around him, whispering words they had both wanted her to say for so long. “Yes, Danny, I do. I’ll go away with you anywhere you want to go.”
“Good.” He said softly in her ear. “I’ve missed you so damn much I ache.”
“Me too baby, me too.”
They stayed that way for a long time, embracing each other tightly in the dying light of the day. It wasn’t until baby Colin’s cries broke the spell that they kissed again and parted, promising to meet the next day at the river to make talk and plans.
After watching his car disappear Laura tended to the baby, changing and feeding him before sitting with him once again in the front window overlooking her flower garden. After today, nothing would be the same in her life and the prospect terrified her but this time she was going to do be brave and do what her heart wanted, not her head. It was time to walk away from her prison. It was time to be with the only man she had ever loved.
When Danny got back to the motel Maria was waiting and she wasn’t happy. “Where the hell have you been Daniel? I called you seven damn times and you wouldn’t pick up your cell! I have a buyer for that sculpture you have down at Loony Grovers farm.”
“His name is Nutty Glover, not Loony Grover and that sculpture isn’t for sale, it’s a gift for someone.”
“What!? You have got to be kidding me Daniel. I’ve already promised it to an buyer from Belgium and he’s offering you two hundred and fifty thousand for it! You are not going to blow this deal over some stupid promise to local yokel, so lets go look at it and then arrange to have it shipped.”
“Whoa there Maria, we are not going to be shipping it anywhere so you’re just going to have to talk to your friend in Belgium and tell him the artist has had a change of heart and he’ll have to commission a piece. That will satisfy him.”
“That’s impossible!” Marie shouted. “He’s already wired the goddamn money! Just get over this artsy fartsy bullshit and give me the address to that hill billy’s farm!”
“I’m sorry you made the deal without consulting me first Maria, because he’s not getting it!” Danny could feel his jaw clench and he didn’t like being backed into a corner over anything, especially his art. But Maria was standing her ground, glaring at him and lighting a cigarette. He detested those things and she always lit one when she wanted him to cave. This time he wouldn’t be doing any caving, in or out. “I’m gone Maria. I want out, out of our marriage, out of our business arrangement and out of New York.”
“How dare you! I made you rich you ignorant hick. Without my contacts you would have come back here to chisel rocks in a lunatic’s barn in butt fuck Iowa!”
“We’re in Nebraska Maria, not Iowa.” Danny said laughing.
“Oh kiss my ass Daniel! If you’ve seen one corn field you’ve seen them all. I don’t give a shit what you say, you are going to give this sculpture to me and then we can call it even. I’ll start divorce proceedings and we can sell the loft in New York, split it all down the middle and walk away without any battle bruises.” She stuck out her hand to shake but Danny waved it away and walked to the door.
“I’m not giving you this sculpture or any other art. What I create I own until I decide to dispose of it as I wish. You don’t tell me what I can or cannot do with anything I may or may not be working on. As for those divorce proceedings, consider them begun, by me. I think you have just told me exactly why we’ve been together and it wasn’t love. You saw me as a fucking art factory to make you money and honey that ain’t happening anymore, so say goodbye as your gravy train leaves the station.” Before he closed the door behind he ducked his head back in. “Oh yeah Maria, by the way, you can kiss my ass too.”