**Oh Ben and Zack, how I love thee. This week brings our story to a close, and Ben is taking over the narration again. I’m not saying we’ll never see Ben and Zack again, because you never know where they will pop up, but their coda is complete with this week’s challenge of a moving mishap, questioning commitment and serenity. Enjoy!**
He was so quiet it was starting to become unnerving. And the less he spoke, the more nervous and quiet I got in return. We’d been home—well, back in New York at any rate—for one day, the moving van had arrived with my things, and as we unpacked the boxes and crates, Zack had all but ceased speaking.
I had to wonder if he thought he made the wrong decision. Now that I’d invaded his home, he may have changed his mind. He possibly discovered that he wasn’t as committed to this as I was, and he didn’t want to be with me forever. While I wished he’d figured it out before I moved all the way across the country to be with him, I couldn’t really fault him. Sometimes, it took something that big to open one’s eyes. I didn’t doubt Zack’s love for me, I just thought that he felt we were moving too fast.
I’d have to live with Josie until I found a place of my own. Or went back to California.
“Ben, I need to talk to you.” Zack’s voice was soft, contrite, and full of worry. Here it was. He was going to tell me he’d made a mistake and that we would have to part ways and slow down.
“All right then,” I responded slowly, shoring myself up.
Zack took a deep breath, and then he took my hand, pulling until I followed him upstairs and into his spare bedroom turned office. The movers had shoved my desk up against the far wall. Zack’s hand trembled as he reached out and opened the box set on top, and then, with another deep breath, tilted it so I could see the contents. Inside was the antique hot chocolate pot that had belonged to my father’s grandmother, the one she’d protected on the journey across the ocean. It now lay in three pieces.
“I’m so sorry,” Zack whispered, and I heard the anguish in his voice. “I swear I packed it carefully, did everything I could to ensure that it would be safe. But it wasn’t enough, and I found it hours ago and I didn’t know how to tell you and—”
“Zack,” I said, cutting him off and pulling him into my arms. We were basically the same height, I only had maybe an inch on him, and I loved that I could look right into his deep blue eyes. “Is that what’s had you so upset?”
He blinked. “Well, yeah. It was a family heirloom and it got busted in the move. The move you made for me.”
I kissed him, quick and hard, my relief making me giddy. Later, I would tell him what I’d thought, and I knew he’d get indignant that I’d questioned his commitment to me. But for now, I was so relieved that his behavior had been over a piece of broken porcelain that I couldn’t help but pour that into the kiss. Zack responded in kind, and it was only when he needed to breathe that he pulled back. He lifted his hands from where they were clutching my waist so that he could cup my face and tilt my head until he could look right into my eyes.
“You aren’t mad?” he asked like he couldn’t quite believe it.
“I’m not mad,” I responded honestly. “I’ll glue it back together and set it in the cabinet. It’s not like it was ever used, and it has more sentimental value then monetary. It’s fine, I promise.”
“Oh thank fuck,” Zack breathed. Then he gave me a wicked grin. He pushed his body a little bit closer, his hands and hips working in conjunction to position me the way he wanted me, which was trapped between him and the desk. “We’ve worked long and hard today. I’d say it’s time for a shower, to wash off all the sweat and grime. And we should probably call it an early night.”
I shivered at his commanding tone, and nodded eagerly, happy to follow behind when he tugged me out of the room.
Later that night, Zack was snoring softly beside me. Even in sleep, he refused to let me get far. Every time I moved, he moved to match my new position. I didn’t mind one bit. Sated and pleasantly sore, I snuggled closer into his embrace. This was what it was all about. The deep seeded contentment, and peace I felt in his arms. Our beginning was not the easiest, and I was certain we’d have arguments and disagreements in the future. I didn’t expect smooth sailing, and that was just fine. Nothing worth having was ever easy, and working at a relationship had never scared me. Just being with him settled something inside me, and it had been like that from the first. We would have to put in the work to keep things good between us, but we had a solid foundation.
I sighed happily, and pushed even closer, loving that Zack immediately pulled me in tighter. As I fit my body to his, a sense of true serenity washed through me. I savored it, knowing it was the kind of thing that didn’t happen often. It might have taken me decades to find it, but now that I had it, I was never letting it, or Zack, go.