Looking at Mateo happily eating his burger and listening to Rafael talk to him about their favourite characters in the latest animated movie that they saw in the cinema, Jane couldn't help but feel her heart glow. She was with her two favourite boys, together as a family, at long last.
Except it wasn't as perfect as it should be, because they still actually weren't a proper family. Jane was just late to dropping off Mateo at Rafael's place and got there just as her baby daddy had finished making their treat dinner for the week and had been invited to stay. If she hadn't have felt so rushed off her feet for the past week and actually had a proper dinner planned instead of Abuela's leftovers again, she probably would have refused. Besides, it smelled so good that it made her stomach rumble as soon as Raf opened the door.
Rafael broke his gaze with his son for a second caught Jane staring. He smirked as her heart jumped out of her chest, then he turned back to Mateo as he was mid-rant through why the ending of the movie wasn't as good as the last one. She swallowed quickly and smiled as she pushed down the butterflies and started engaging in the conversation.
It wasn't long until they were all finished and proceeded to tidying up. Mateo had earned a 'no chores' reward for the first time in weeks after avoiding a meltdown today, so it was just Jane and Rafael washing the dishes as Mateo played with toys in his room.
Jane was drying dishes as they made small talk at the sink, though she couldn't help but feel a nervous feeling bubbling in her stomach. She had allowed herself to be distracted as they worked on Mateo's issues after discussions with his paediatrician, but with this new realistic plan in place, Jane suddenly had a lot more time on her hands to worry about it. She tried to suppress it not wanting to ruin a seemingly perfect evening, but she couldn't seem to help herself - as usual.
"So, hot date this weekend?" Jane asked with a forced smile, raising her eyebrows suggestively.
Rafael hesitated for a second with the plate he was washing before continuing. "Actually, yes."
"Oh?" Jane exclaimed, trying to focus on the dish she was drying as she felt her stomach drop.
"Yeah," he said awkwardly, "I was actually going to ask if you minded picking Mateo up from Petra's on Sunday? He's been asking to go back to the Marbella anyway, something about a treasure hunt and a parrot."
"Yeah, that's totally fine." Jane's voice had raised, speaking hurriedly as she raised her shoulders nonchalantly. "How's that going by the way?"
"If you're thinking that it'll be awkward talking about, it really isn't." Jane interjected quickly, scrubbing the same plate with the towel more vigorously. "I mean, it's been ages since we broke up, right? And we're on good co-parenting terms again, and Mateo is starting to get better at school, things are going well at your job, my writing is starting to-"
"Jane." Rafael spoke firmly and gently grabbed her wrist with a soapy hand, forcing her to stop and turn to look at him. "We don't have to do this yet."
Her heart was pounding as she looked at him, but not out of heartache. No, this time she felt a heat spread across her cheeks and a red mist descend upon her gaze as she looked at Rafael and saw pity. Pure, unadulterated pity.
"So that's it?" Jane demanded. "We're never going to talk about what happened, things are just over between us?"
"What is there to talk about?" Rafael's face hardened and he dropped her hand. "You had things you needed to figure out, I didn't. Now we move on."
Rafael went back to washing, albeit more aggressively than before. Jane stared at him momentarily as he attacked the cup with the sponge and all but threw it onto the draining board. She glanced at the doorway expecting Mateo to emerge after all of the ruckus, but thankfully the doorway remained clear.
She knew that she had to come up with a new way phrasing her point if she were to ever get him to listen to her – they couldn't keep having this same fight every time the topic got brought up. Even though she couldn't pinpoint how she knew, she felt it in her soul that things were not over between them. After all this time, he couldn't just fall out of love with her this quickly.
"What if it had been Petra?" Jane asked. Rafael didn't break stride, so Jane continued: "What if you were still been married to Petra before her psychotic, crazy bitch phase? What if you had then had the twins and was living that perfect, white picket fence lifestyle you always wanted?"
At that, Rafael's hands stilled in the sink, but he still didn't look up. Jane craned her head to look at him in hope that she was getting through, ignoring the icy cold look in his eyes.
"You were madly in love with her Raf, you told me as much." Her voice became softer now. "Now imagine that she went to a conference one day and never came home. You have two young girls to look after. You attend the funeral. You mourn, then you gradually learn to live with the grief so that you can move on with your life.
Then, when you're least expecting it, this amazing-" Jane felt a lump in her throat and tried to push through it "- incredible person comes into your life and makes you feel a love you never thought was ever possible. It doesn't replace the love you lost, but this is a new kind of love that fills your entire being; it holds together all the pieces you thought would always be broken."
She paused and felt tears roll down her face, reliving the events of the past 6 months with a fresh new wave of heartache. She saw as his jaw tighten as his eyes moved around the counter in front of him, grip tightening on the sponge as the bubbles eased out of the side of his hands.
With a deep breath, Jane slowly reached up and placed a hand on his jaw. She pulled his face gently towards her, dipping her heart down slightly to catch his attention. He let go of the sponge to turn to face her more, one hand still gripping onto the countertop. His breathing seemed more staggered.
"So when Petra comes back, your new consuming love doesn't change, but there isn't space for the old feelings and you don't know what to do with them." Jane smiled sadly and brushed her thumb against his cheek. "It takes time, but you finally figure out that the old love is only still there as a ghost in your broken parts, and the new love is the only one you want for the rest of your life."
Despite all her best efforts, there was a steady stream of tears running down her face and her voice had cracked by the last sentence. She was very well aware that she was very nearly breaching the ugly crying territory, but something inside of her snapped and she was letting it all out for the first time in weeks. The fact that there were a few tears creeping down Rafael's face only encouraged her overwhelming sadness.
"I love you, Rafael," Jane whispered, "and I'm sorry that I put you through this. You're the person I'm going to spend the rest of my life loving, whether you feel the same or not."
"Of course I love you, Jane." He murmured.
Rafael briefly wiped his hand across his pants before reaching out and tucking Jane's hair behind her ear. His hand lingered briefly before he reached back and pulled her hand down from his face.
"You broke my trust," he explained. "And I don't know if I can ever feel the same way about you again."
She blinked at him, and it was as if all of the grief she was feeling over losing him was blinked away too. She wiped her face, sniffed quite loudly and switched into her trademark look of determination. Like hell was she going to believe that.
She grabbed his hand and held it against her chest. She placed her free hand on his.
"Does this not feel the same?" Jane challenged, feeling his heartbeat racing as quickly as hers.
He sighed and looked away. "That's not what I mean."
She grabbed his face with both hands to make him look at her again, then stepped closer and slid her hands down onto his neck. "Does this not feel the same?"
They stood and stared at each other, neither seemingly willing to back down.
It only took a few moments of them standing like this for Jane to realise how warm Rafael's skin felt beneath her hands. A few seconds later, and she felt her fingers tingle as she realised how close they were and that this hadn't happened for a long time. She felt a rush of heat coursing through her causing her to involuntarily pull herself closer to him needing to feel his heavy breathing on her as their stand off continued.
Jane didn't even realise when Rafael's hands had moved onto her hips – it all felt so natural to her, as if she was remembering how to breath – but she did when she felt them move onto her lower back. Was that what made her pull herself closer to him just moments ago? She couldn't tell. All she knew was that she needed to be even closer to him.
It was as though everything was moving in slow motion. The gap between them was slowly closing and Raf has his head bent down towards her with his eyes flickering to a close. The space between them was almost palpable she edged closer, her eyes fluttering to a close too. Unable to stand it anymore, she pulled him forward and kissed him deeply.
She allowed herself to revel in the moment with all of the fireworks and magic, but allowed herself not to get caught up in the moment – she was aware that this could all still be one sided. Jane pulled back briefly and only managed to see a glimpse of fire in his eyes before she was yanked back towards him.
The kiss was both hard and soft, both of them desperate to gain control and release all of their unspoken feelings. His hands roamed up and down back as he tried to pull her even closer, while Jane raked her fingers through his hair and pressed her body against his.
Somewhere along the way, he had lifted her up on top of the counter and she had her legs wrapped around his waist. Their movements gradually became softer and slower, their desperate kisses turning into gentle pecks. Rafael leaned his head against Jane's as they breathed heavily.
"I was right," he said quietly. "It doesn't feel the same."
Jane's head shot up. She eyed him in horror as she watched his expressionless face. "What do you mean?"
"It doesn't feel the same." He repeated, before a smirk spread slowly across his face. "It felt better."
"Don't do that do me!" She protested, pushing at his shoulder as a wave of relief washed over her. "That's so not funny. That's like the opposite of funny."
"Sure it is." Rafael's smile spread wider as he peppered a few more kisses on Jane's lips and cheek. When he pulled back again, his delirium subsided and he approached the elephant in the room. "This doesn't mean that things are going to go back to how things used to be. There's a lot of trust and rebuilding that we need to do before we can pick up where we left off."
"Of course!" Jane grinned as she pulled back with a quizzical look. "But I can still tell you that I love you, right?"
He laughed. "Right."
"Then I love you, Rafael," she said earnestly. "I love you."
"I love you too, Jane."
He nuzzled in closer to her embrace when they suddenly heard a sobering yell come from down the hallway.
"Daddy! Da-" Mateo's shouts were stopped as he saw his daddy step back very quickly away from his mommy. "What's going on here?"
"I, uh," Jane started, glancing between Rafael and the token intruder. "Mommy thought she hurt her shoulder, so daddy was trying to get a better look at it."
"That's right!" Rafael agreed enthusiastically, helping Jane down from her seat on the counter. "But it's alright now, so how about we go get you ready for bed?"
After a few protests from her little boy that it was way too early for his bedtime, Rafael finally ushered Mateo away from the kitchen and towards his bedroom. Jane watched her boys as they walked away, and it was though she could almost feel her heart glowing.