Here to Stay - Suanne Laqueur


Who always asks, “What are you writing?”

“But oh, my dear,

Our love is here to stay.

Together we’re going a long, long way…”

—George and Ira Gershwin

“Draw a line and get on one side or the other.”

—William M. Kaeger

IT’S A STRANGE THING to find a lost lover in your hands again. Like finding your childhood baseball glove in an attic box of memories. You’re sure it won’t fit. But the heat of your palm, a flex and a bend. A cautious knead of the leather and a tentative reach into the furthest recesses… It knows you. It remembers you.

It fits you.

“Do I feel the same?” Daisy asked, her voice a silken caress.

After twelve years, Erik thought, of course not. He had loved a girl. It was a woman’s body up against him now, with the heft of wisdom and the weight of experience. He ran his fingers up her backbone and felt all the bits of new fused steel, overlaid with the strong assurance in her muscles and the soft aplomb of her skin. She was a hundred times more beautiful. A thousand times more thrilling.

And as her blue-green eyes stared into his, he was keenly aware of her vulnerability.

“You feel more,” he said, his hands moving along her body, trying to remember how she felt when he last touched her. Thin. Beyond ballerina thin—she was drugged thin at the end of their days in college. Yet beautiful to him. Never anything but stunningly easy on his eyes and liquid in his embrace and sweet in his mouth.

“You feel right,” she said, her own hands gliding along his limbs, in and out of him. “Maybe a little thinner.”

“I probably am. I lost and gained weight over and over. Depending on how I was feeling at the time. When the dark came around, I’d stop eating.”

“I know, but…” Her delicate, arched eyebrows flickered in her brow. “I think over the years, in my head, I made you bigger than you were. Or maybe I beat myself down into something smaller. But now I remember your body. I remember mine with it.”

She was kissing him, pulling him to roll on top of her again. The digital clock on her bedside table read 2:06 in the morning. They had been going at it like possessed demons for hours now and no matter how tight he held or how hard he clung, Erik could not get both arms around making love to her. Too much feeling grabbed at him, clamoring for attention and precedence. Euphoria, lust, guilt and sadness were four wild stallions chained to each limb, intent on tearing him apart. Yet at the center of the jerking, pulling emotion, his heart was calm and accepting. Quietly riding out the storm, safe in the knowledge he was living his truth, living the life he was born to live.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispered under him.

“I can’t,” he said. “I’d never breathe again.”

THE SUN SHONE SOFT yellow through the frosty windows and it threw a square of light on Daisy’s skin. Propped on an elbow, Erik ran his hand over her bare back, looking for scars. One by one he found the fine, raised lines in the curve of her waist and along the hollows of her ribs. He counted them. Cataloged and memorized them. Sighed as each was tallied under his fingers.

“What,” she whispered. She lay on her stomach, arms around a pillow. One brilliant blue-green eye looking up at him.


The eye closed once and opened. It was her thirty-fourth birthday and she was no fool.

“Tell me,” she said.

“I feel like I pushed you to this.”

“I made a choice,” she said.

“I know. But I own part of this. Maybe one day I’ll feel differently. Right now, I feel responsible.”

His fingers traced and his mind pulled back through the years, imagining her alone in her dark apartment. In the darker dark of her mind. Her fingers curling around pieces of broken glass. His name in her mouth as she cut into her skin.

“You’re not responsible for all of it,” she said. “Pick one. You can have one. You can own it and hate it or heal it or touch it however you want.”

He leaned his head closer to her back. He touched the thick ridge of healed skin that curved at the bottom edge of her right shoulder blade. He thought of the twisted courage it took to push past the revulsion of self-harm and lean on a sharp edge. Lean hard until it sank into the layers of