"The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it. Sometimes love blinds us, other times it lets us see." - Unknown
* * * * * * *
"Good morning, Sonia," Nate greeted his live-in butler.
"It has been so nice to have you home, Nathaniel." She frowned at his choice of clothing. "I take it you are leaving again?"
"Correct. I messed up big time last week, Sonia."
"With that lady, Master Nate?" the butler grinned wryly.
"The one and the same."
"Would you like my advice sir?" she asked. Without waiting for a response, she said simply, "go to her."
"And that's what she told me NOT to do."
"You have a better idea?" Sonia chuckled.
"No," he admitted, "but at least I look nice just in case."
"Do you really want to be with this girl?"
Nate didn't hesitate. "Yes."
"Then go to her."
When Nate called Marilyn to tell her he was coming over, it went straight to voicemail. She was probably working today. He didn't know if she had gotten promoted or what her new hours could be but he set off for the Theatre regardless. He'd wait all night if he had to. It's not like it would be the first time he slept on a park bench.
* * * * * * *
Nate was standing in the corner where Marilyn had first seen him. He was playing "I'm So Twitterpated" as she was walking out. She stopped long enough to glare at him and then got into her carpool and went home.
Nate hurriedly flagged a cab down and demanded the driver step on it. Luckily, Marilyn's carpool had one other girl to drop off on the way and they pulled in the driveway as Nate's taxi was pulling up.
"Marilyn, it's been a week and we're going to talk tonight."
She was crying and didn't put up a protest when he walked in the door after her. He grabbed her shoulders and looked into her tear-filled eyes. "I am so sorry I hurt you. I love you, if you can believe that. I wouldn't expect you to because if I did, I wouldn't have lied."
Marilyn just kept staring at him. It had been a long week and every day after work, she had come home every night to lay in bed until she passed out of pure exhaustion. Every morning, she woke up facedown on a wet pillow, sobbing stormily until she choked on her own phlegm, unable to swallow or breathe. She was a hot mess.
"Please, Mar. Let me take you to my house - my real house."
There was no fight left in her eyes. She knew she would have to hear his story out if she wanted to ever be truly rid of him. The only thing is, is she didn't know if she wanted that at all.
Nate and Marilyn pulled up to the big mansion on the hill and while Marilyn thought it was beautiful, she didn't see much of the man she had come to love in it at all. Honestly, the little cabin in the woods seemed to suit him better.
She walked up to the front door, Nate trailing behind. He was nervous, as he knew this was the last chance he had before he would lose her forever. Would she believe him? And even if she did, would it be enough?
* * * * * * *
Nate and I stood in the door awkwardly. Who was this man and why couldn't he have told me the truth from the beginning? There were a million thoughts running through my mind. Finding out the truth had been a shock, the past week had been more than painful and the only thing that I knew for sure was that in spite of everything, I loved him.
"So what do you think?" he asked me as I stood in the doorway, trying to process.
"You have a large house," I finally said.
I bit my lip, tears threatening to return. "I told you everything - I shared my life with you, even my crappy little house. And this entire time, you've been living in a mansion and sleeping in park benches. I feel like I don't know you at all."
"Everything else was true. You DO know me, Marilyn. Nothing else has changed."
My face sagged. "Except I'm an idiot." I whispered.
"Mar, you're not an idiot. I'm an asshole. Now will you please come sit down with this asshole in the living room?"
We sat on the couch, not touching, as Nate began his story.
"My full name is Nathaniel Bergdorf," he explained.
My eyes widened. Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth was right up there with Barney's, Bloomingdale's, Bendel's, all of those fancy B-named department stores in New York. Carrying everything from Chanel to Yves St. Laurent and boasting eight spa rooms, this was no J.C. Penney's. I remembered quite a lovely afternoon lunch and tea at Cafe 745. Andrew Goodman himself had started out working for Herman Bergdorf, bought his own store and then bought out the interest in the company. It must have been a lot of interest, because Herman Bergdorf retired to Paris, a wealthy man indeed.
He smiled. "Yes, I'm sure you already know my family's history. But the truth is, is I hated everything that came along with being a Bergdorf. I hated my private school, the superficiality of my friends and my family's expectations. All of my life, people have only seen me for being a Bergdorf and not Nate."
I could definitely relate. I could recall my father setting up play dates for me as a young girl. The other little girls (Babe Irvine Horowitz for one) were daughters of my father's friends. He claimed we were making the right "connections" and stressed how important it was to know the right people.
"So what happened?" I asked.
"A couple of months ago, I left Bridgeport. My father set me up with this house and a small allowance. He was hoping that I would one day return to them or expand the family business here in Hidden Springs. I did some research before I moved and knew that there were several wealthy families in the area. But when I got here, I didn't want anything to do with them. In the evenings, I would walk around town, playing my guitar and would end up sleeping on benches outside of the grocery store or Theatre. For once, I was just Nate."
"And then you met me," I mused.
"Yes I met you," he agreed. Nate looked at me. "You lost your fortune and here I was running from mine."
"Is that why you didn't tell me? You thought I would want you for your money?"
"Quite the opposite!" he laughed. "You had two guys chasing after you, quite willing to foot your bills. I was just curious to see if you would like me."
"So I was an experiment?"
"Hardly. But let me ask you this - would you have ever given a guitar playing fisherman a chance back when you were Marilyn Astor, socialite and queen of the debutante ball?" he grinned.
"No," I finally replied. "I never would have."
We sat in silence for a moment as the weight of his words sunk in. I would have never given him the time of day. For the first time, I saw myself for the kind of person I had been before Gregory had died. And I didn't like what I saw.
"Once I got to know you, I was afraid to come clean. I didn't want you to think I was like Tad or Carter, trying to buy your love." He made the universal gesture for douche bag and continued, "Sonia, my butler rented that cabin for me. I didn't think it was a good idea but I wasn't sure how I was going to tell you the truth. When you found out, I was actually relieved."
"I wasn't," I said, with a small, sad smile.
"Mar, I'm so sorry I lied. And I'm not saying this apology will make everything perfect or you'll be able to trust me immediately. But I love you, not because you're Marilyn Astor and I'm Nathaniel Bergdorf. I love you because you're Mar and I'm Nate. And I want to be with you."
I knew it would be awhile before I would be able to trust Nate again. But after thinking about those who had hurt me in the past, I realized that I had none of them in my life. My father had died never to reconcile. Tad was still a cheating jerk. Carter had only redecorated my house because he wanted me, not because he cared about what I wanted. Nate had lied but now was apologizing. And I realized then that I didn't want to lose him.
Nate scooted over to where I was sitting, a tender look in his eyes. "So what do you think?" he asked, softly.
I stared at him for a minute. And with a kiss, said everything my words could not.
* * * * * * *
After that night, Nate sold his house and moved in with me. He had applied to the Theatre and was waiting for a response. I still went to work and it still sucked, but every day I would come home and he would be waiting for me. We led a simple life and things continued almost as before with a few small changes.
I still couldn't cook...
but we DID buy a double bed...
and I was in love with a guitar playing fisherman known simply as Nate.