Gwen leaves Ethan for Jared (and for herself!)
In the past, she had told Ethan more times than she could count that she was through with him. In truth, she had meant it not even once. Not until this morning when she walked out of the Crane Mansion forever, Jared's hand wrapped around hers, did she feel like she was really done with Ethan. She was done with the lying, the cheating... just done with the emotionally stunned man-child she had called her husband off and on for the better part of a decade. She wasn't in love with him anymore anyway. Maybe she never had been. Maybe it was true what Theresa had always said – that she didn't really want him; she just didn't want anyone else to have him. When she thought of the lengths she had gone to hold onto him, she felt weak in the knees and not in a good way either. She had lost her daughter because of him; she had lost her innocence and her belief in the goodness of humanity. Only loving Jared – truly loving Jared – had ultimately given her what she had been searching for all along: her freedom.
It had all started ten months ago. Gwen was suddenly losing weight – much more than could possibly be healthy because she could hardly keep down her food; she was dizzy a lot and her nose kept bleeding. It was Jared that found her laying it the bushes at the mansion the day she fainted, the day her life would change forever in ways she could not have foreseen. He had called an ambulance and then insisted on riding with her to the hospital. It was him that sat beside her bed and held her hand when Dr. Russell gave her the news. It was Jared that told her she was strong enough to fight the disease eating away at her body. Ethan was far too busy that day carrying on another liaison with Theresa, so immersed in her drama - the way only he could stand to be.
Of course Ethan said all the right things when he finally did get to the hospital but Gwen was far too hurt and angry to listen to him at the time. He made all kinds of promises when she finally left the hospital with him. He swore he was going to be a good husband to her, even going so far as to recite their wedding vows to her ("till death do us part").
Ethan did and said all the right things at first but before long then he was staying out late again and Gwen would end up calling Jared to come over and sit by her, because she had no one else (her mother had said she hated to see her puke). He would sometimes hold her hair back as the chemo played horrible tricks on her body. And he'd make terrible jokes to get her through the times when she would break down crying with frustration and pain.
She didn't realize she was truly in love with him though until the day Eve told her the cancer was gone. Jared came with her to the hospital and swept her into his arms as she received the hopeful news. His face was so close to hers, his body so warm, that she could not resist the urge to kiss him. And not on the cheek either. Eve's eyes had bugged out and Gwen had just laughed. She should have felt like a jezebel for kissing a man in public who wasn't her husband but she didn't. She felt free and happy. Plus the way Jared was looking at her … She knew he felt that pull between them too. Even with her hair so short and her body so frail, he whispered, "You're amazing, Gwen Hotchkiss."
And she believed him. She realized she had never quite believed it when Ethan showered her with praise. She never trusted him the way she did Jared. She never had loved him the way she did Jared.
Things had moved quickly forward from there. Jared asked her to leave Ethan so they could try to figure out this powerful thing between them. In the past he would have felt no shame taking a married woman to bed, but if Gwen had changed knowing him, then so had he in knowing her. Loving each other had shifted everything.
At first Gwen was scared to say yes. What if one day Jared tired of her too? A lifetime of emotional abandonment had made her gun-shy, naturally. But he had said he could never tire of her and she thought it was true. Again, she had never quite trusted Ethan's fair-weather friend ways whereas with Jared... Well, he could say the moon was made of cheese and she would have no problem believing that it really was.
When she told Ethan, he was beyond shocked. Mostly shocked no doubt because she told him in no uncertain terms she didn't need him anymore. His ego took a hard hit, she was sure also, knowing that she was leaving him for another man – and Theresa's ex-husband at that. Theresa was there of course. She lived there - something Gwen couldn't believe now that Ethan had asked her to endure and that she, herself, had actually agreed to. Theresa accused Gwen of wanting everything she had and Gwen just shrugged it off. Theresa didn't affect her anymore and she almost felt sorry for the young woman. Theresa was stuck with Ethan now and who was to say that he would be true to her in the long run? Once a cheater, as the saying went, but Gwen wasn't going to dwell on that. She was only moving forward now.
Gwen told Ethan she would send for her stuff and then she walked out of there with Jared. They had just reached the front gate when Jared suddenly lightly spun her into his arms and kissed her. She felt weak-kneed all over again but this time it was the good kind of weak-kneed. Oh yes, the very best kind.