She pushes my door open, silently, as she does. She is not one to enter with fanfare or theatrics. Just some nights, some indeterminate nights she nudges the door open and I only have that brief sliver of light to warn me and then she’s there, slinking in to my bed and sliding beside me under the covers.

I don’t mind, not really. There are times when I want to tell her please, go back to your own bed, to the couch, anything, I just want to be alone, but most of the times when I’m honest I want her with me. She's like a little secret that my better half can't really puzzle out. She’s got enough sense not to try her luck when he’s home. She knows better, knows how that would ruin the secret for both of us and isn’t willing to test it. In his eyes, there is he and I and she does not fit in to his picture of bliss at all. She’s not willing to see how much he wants to stretch his boundaries, not when she's seen how much I value my relationship with him. I appreciate that in her. One thing, she’s never been reckless, even though I know she loves me.

Tonight is one of those hard nights, when I’m glad she’s willing to sidle in and lay her head across my shoulder, on my pillow. She’s close enough to breathe in and I need that right now, because he isn’t here. I wish I was strong enough to sleep alone, to tell her no, I don’t need you. I love you, you know, but I don’t need you, so just go on. But I’m not, and he’s gone, and I am so alone in this bed. I feel her gentle touch against my back and I just close my eyes and try not to cry.

It’s not a competition in my heart, not really. I think I’m big enough to love them both. Sometimes I worry. She really was here first. He just showed up on the scene and as I was pulling him toward me I felt like I had to push her away, tell her to leave me be and that was tearing me up. Finally I told him the bare minimum of what he needed to know. I cared for her, she was staying with me, and that was that. Never told him about the slinking in my door when he’s not around. Never told him how much she really means to me. Never told him that she is his stand-in and that sometimes when I'm laying in bed with him I am thinking about her, alone. He doesn’t need to know and doesn’t want to know. I don’t know and she’s probably got the right guess of what he’d think of it, but right now, I don’t care. I need to feel her warmth against my skin and know that she still loves me after all of it, even after all that I put her through.

I’m worrying again, thinking about his smile and his arms around me and the way it used to be when it was just her and I, my pretty girl and I lying on the couch watching movies, how I can see her watching us out of the corner of her eyes when he and I lie in that same position. I wonder what she thinks about when he stays the night and I can see her shadow pass outside my door but she has the courtesy not to disturb us. I always have a hard time looking at her in the mornings but she never seems too put out. She loves me. I am hoping I love her enough back, enough for her to want to stay around. Enough, but not enough to drive him away.

So I’m worrying again, and that means I’m fidgeting, and I hear her sigh. Just quiet, a little noise, a warm breath against my neck and I am ashamed. Here she is, finally asking me in her own small way to just stop and be with her and I am still preoccupied with him. She is here, all gentle warmth and understanding and compassion and absolute perfect beautiful honesty, and I am wrapped in my selfish and lonely thoughts of him. So I breathe out. I try to let him go. I love him… but I also love her and tonight she is here and he is not.

I turn around to face her, look into her beautiful chocolate eyes in the moonlight, watching me silently. Like she does. I bury my hands in her silky red hair and I breathe it all in… her smell, her love, my love, this time we have together. I don’t know how long it will last. I know it can’t be long enough. I place my forehead against hers and close my eyes, letting her hair slip over my fingers.

She licks my nose.

“Good girl.”