Chapter 35

The heater was blowing at full-force in the sedan but the passenger and driver felt only a deathly chill inside of the car. Initially Ellen was grateful when Matt insisted that they immediately leave Luke's club and not say a word to each other until they arrived at her apartment. However, the short drive from Luke's to her apartment seemed unbearably long tonight. Several times during the drive she briefly glanced at Matt hoping that their gazes would lock, but not once could he bring himself to look at her. His expression was stoic and impassive as he stared straight ahead. Matt's clenched jaw and unusually deep, controlled breaths were the only indications of the emotions he was working desperately to keep in check. Upon arriving at her apartment, Ellen sat down on her couch, nervously clasping hands, and prepared to tell Matt what she should have told him as soon as he returned to Port Charles. Her heart became heavier - if that was possible - when she noted that Matt remained in his chair opposite her and did not join her on the couch.

"Matt," she began, her eyes beginning to fill with tears and her voice quivering, "I know that this is late in coming, and that someone has probably mentioned to you - "

"Grace," Matt sharply corrected her. "Ellen, Grace was the person who finally had the nerve to say to me what GH personnel apparently have been whispering for weeks - that you and Kevin Collins are lovers."

Knowing the actual truth was not much better than Grace's erroneous comment, Ellen still attempted to defend herself. Shaking her head she said, "That's not true Matt. Kevin and I aren't lovers but, but something has changed between us."

"When?" Matt barked, still trying not to raise his voice. "When did you two decide that you were something more than friends?" Matt blinked his eyes as he felt his face flush red in anger.

"During the past few weeks - "

Interrupting again, in an attempt to make sure he had the facts straight, Matt gave Ellen a piercing stare and asked incredulously, "You mean when I was out of town in New York?"

Nodding her head, shame washed over Ellen's face. "Yes, Kevin told me that he had romantic feelings for me and, well, you know that I care for Kevin and he is just about my closest friend and all of a sudden I wasn't sure what my feelings were for him. My love for you is real Matt. It still exists and I will always love and care about you. But my feelings for Kevin," Ellen shook her head in disbelief, speaking as much to herself as she was to Matt, "I don't understand them and I can't explain them. I've tried to ignore them and focus just on you and me, but -" Ellen's speech faltered as she watched Matt close his eyes and use his fingertips to massage the temples.

With a dangerous edge in voice Matt said, "You said that Grace - and apparently the whole GH staff - were wrong in thinking you and Kevin are lovers." He started recounting the details that Grace stubbornly described to him at Luke's that night. "Were they wrong in saying he came out of your apartment late one night covered with lipstick, or that you've visited at his home while I was away, or you've had numerous private meetings with him at GH, or - "

"Stop, Matt," Ellen pleaded, voice cracking and the tears started rolling down her face. "Please!" Ellen reached out to touch Matt but he quickly rolled his chair backwards to avoid her touch. Taken aback by Matt's response, Ellen placed her hands in her lap and tried to reach Matt with her words. "I can't deny on the surface, just looking at the facts, it looks like we were sneaking around behind your back, but we didn't plan what has happened. We didn't intentionally go out to hurt you or Lucy."

As much as Matt wanted to believe the woman he loved, his rational mind was overriding the urgings of his heart. Narrowing his eyes, he sharply asked, "Why did Lucy run out of Luke's tonight?"

Ellen dropped her eyes momentarily as she remembered Lucy's shocked, tear-stained face staring at her and Kevin from Luke's office doorway. On the dance floor Ellen had made her decision and now she had to tell Matt. Taking a deep breath and knowing there was no easy way to break someone's heart, Ellen said, "She came into Luke's office and saw us - Kevin and me - kissing."

Gripping the wheels of his chair in an unsuccessful effort to keep himself from exploding, Matt bellowed, " She saw you and Kevin kissing!" Matt became apoplectic as he remembered the conversations at Luke's that evening. That book was a work of fiction, Matt. Matt, you don't mind if I dance with Ellen, do you? Matt had a few choice words he'd deliver soon to Dr. Kevin Collins but unfortunately for Ellen, she alone was going to bear the full brunt of Matt's rage at this moment. "What was going to be your plan? Were you going to feign having a headache so that you and Kevin could continue your Valentine celebration later tonight without the inconvenience of Lucy and me being around?"

"Matt, I decided on the dance floor that I was going to tell you everything about Kevin and me tonight. I only went into Luke's office to tell Kevin of my decision." Ellen knew that her explanation was not the complete truth. She also went into Luke's office to comfort Kevin because she knew how this situation was affecting them both, but she couldn't bring herself to share the truth with Matt.

"But you needed to tell him with something other than words?" Matt said bitterly through clenched teeth. What kind of a fool did Ellen take him for?

With dogged persistence Ellen attempted to explain why she delayed in tell Matt what had happened with Kevin. "Matt, you know me better than almost anyone else. My main character flaw is that I have a great fear sometimes of expressing my feelings for people and often I try to deny them. For years I denied that I needed my mother and family in my life and it took years for us to reconcile. For the better part of a year I denied my feelings for you and only because of your love and patience and tenacity was I able to finally admit that I loved you. And then when Kevin told me how he felt for me, and I recognized that I did have similar feelings for him, as usual I fell into my state of denial. But I discovered quickly that I couldn't maintain it and I needed to tell both of you the truth."

Knowing his next words would hurt Ellen and hopefully inflict some of the pain that stabbed his own heart, Matt sarcastically commented, "I'm so glad that you've made progress in not denying your true feelings. Alice had to wait several years for that breakthrough; I had to battle your stone wall for a year; but Kevin benefited tremendously from your enlightened knowledge and is on the verge of bedding you after only a few weeks of work." Ellen gasped and visibly flinched upon hearing Matt's stinging remark. She knew he had every reason to be furious about her actions and he wasn't pulling any punches with his rebukes.

"Ellen, I trusted you. I trusted you," Matt repeated with noticeable emphasis on the word trusted. He quickly brushed away tears that had been threatening to fall since his conversation with Grace. "Do you know how important trust is to a person like me and the world from which I come? My own father and brother were willing to kill me because they didn't trust me. Kevin Collins was making advances and hitting on you for weeks and you said NOTHING to me. It didn't matter whether you did or didn't know how you felt about him. I'm talking only about you and me now. You should have told me immediately and you didn't," he said fiercely. How could Ellen have done this?

Ellen had no defense and she knew it. Tears continued to fall from her reddened eyes. Her delay in telling Matt about Kevin was inexcusable but until tonight she sincerely thought she could eventually deal with her feelings for Kevin without hurting Matt. That huge error in judgment may have cost her any chance of having any type of relationship with Matt. Her words were totally inadequate but it was all she could muster, "I am so sorry," she sobbed.

Now having all of the facts out in the open, Matt decided they both needed some time apart to decide what would happen next. With tremendous sadness and without saying another word, he abruptly turned around and started moving towards the apartment door to leave. Ellen ached to jump off of the couch and stop him from leaving, but there was nothing she could say at this moment to ease the pain her actions had caused. It was best to let Matt decide when they should talk about what would happen next. Matt opened the door of the apartment and not turning around to face Ellen, he strained to keep the sobs from his voice, "I'll call you in a few days." Once in the hallway, Matt quickly pressed the open palm of his hands to his mouth to muffle the cry that uncontrollably burst from his throat. Gasping for breath he whispered hoarsely, "I can't believe it is over. I can't believe it."


It was 11 p.m. and Kevin lay on his bed, briefly breaking his almost constant stare at his ceiling to look at the uncomfortably silent telephone again. He had arrived home an hour earlier and immediately checked his answering machine for a message from Ellen. No message had been left, and during the ensuing time as he waited his mind continuously drifted to his altercation with Lucy.

After leaving Luke's office, she quickly retrieved her coat from the coat check and had run almost a full block before Kevin was able to catch up with her.

"Let me go!" Lucy screamed as Kevin grabbed her arm and she unsuccessfully tried to break free. The cold winter's night air was quickly drying Lucy's tears, which continued to fall.

"Lucy, you'll break your neck running out here in the freezing cold in high heels," Kevin reasoned. "We need to talk." Nodding his head towards the doorway of a bar a few yards from them Kevin suggested, "Please, let's go in there where I can at least call you a cab if you insist on not letting me take you home."

Lucy finally jerked herself free of Kevin's grip. Recognizing the fact that she was freezing, Lucy sniffled and haughtily raised her head as she entered the bar. She and Kevin sat down across from each other in a booth in the almost empty bar.

"Aren't you going to call the cab for me?" Lucy asked warily.

Kevin leaned back in his seat. "I am, in a minute. But we need to talk first."

"It's kind of late to talk isn't it Kevin?" Lucy asked bitterly. The unbelievable sight of Kevin passionately kissing and embracing Ellen in Luke's office continued to flash before her eyes. Lucy had been standing in the doorway at least 30 seconds, shocked in frozen horror watching, before Kevin caught a glimpse of her. "Apparently both you and Ellen have been keeping Matt and me completely clueless about your affair."

"Lucy, I'm not to address what Ellen did or did not tell Matt because I don't know. I'm sorry that you found out my feelings for Ellen the way that you did, but I have told you repeatedly that I didn't want to be anything but friends with you. You cannot say that I misled you in that matter."

"You didn't tell me that you didn't want to be with me because you were having an affair with Ellen Burgess!" Lucy shot back. "How can you even pretend that you've been honest with me?" Momentarily having a clear mind, Lucy snatched her cellphone from her purse and called for a taxi.

Assuming that a taxi would be at the bar to pick up Lucy any moment, Kevin continued trying to talk to Lucy in the little time they had left. Leaning forward he looked Lucy directly in the eyes and said, "Lucy, you know very well that I couldn't tell you anything about my relationship with Ellen. But it really is a separate issue. Even if I never had a chance to be with Ellen, which was a very real possibility, you and I were not going to get back together again. Nothing has changed between us since we've broken up and it would have been useless to resume the relationship. We've discussed it many times; you just refuse to accept it."

"You never told me that there was another woman between us!" Lucy insisted.

"There is no woman between us Lucy. Didn't you just hear what I said?" Kevin sighed heavily. "Regardless, if I had confessed that I was in love with someone, you wouldn't have left things alone and you would have done you best to find out who this woman was before we were ready for people to know. I have no regrets not telling you my feelings for Ellen."

"Love? You believe that you love her?" Lucy asked in wide-eyed disbelief. "Worrying about me and my reaction to you and Ellen should be the least of your concerns. Don't you think Matt Harmon is going to have something to say about all of this?" Seeing the look of concern that flickered across Kevin's face, Lucy knew that she had drawn blood with her last question. "I see that you haven't thought much of Matt. Well, when Ellen comes to her senses and Matt agrees to forgive her, maybe you might be looking for me to forgive you also." As the driver for Lucy's cab entered the bar, Lucy hurried to leave and put an end to one of her worst nights in recent memory. "Don't wait too long to call me Kevin."

Now, back at his home alone, fear and uncertainty gripped Kevin as he wondered why he hadn't heard from Ellen yet. Was it possible that Matt, though he was probably angry with Ellen, convinced her not to break their engagement? Did he get her to agree not to have any association with Kevin? Certainly the longer he didn't hear from Ellen the more his anxiety grew. It would be stupid to call Ellen now, especially if Matt was still there. And it would be even more stupid to go to her apartment now. She had promised to call him tonight and Kevin decided to wait for her call, no matter if he had to sit up all night. Nervousness made him restless and he went downstairs to work on a new oil painting in an attempt to do something productive while waiting. Just before midnight, the telephone rang and Kevin answered it before the second ring.

Without preamble, Kevin asked anxiously, "Ellen?"

"Hi Kevin," Ellen said in a soft voice. All of the events of the evening had left Ellen emotionally and physically drained and Kevin could discern this from her voice. For the last two hours Ellen had cried continuously. Her rational mind told her it was silly that 'she' should be crying. After all, she was responsible for the turmoil and upheaval that occurred tonight. But knowing how she had hurt Matt, who had given her his love and support from almost the moment they met, distressed her tremendously. Ellen knew Matt deserved better than what happened to him tonight. Apologizing to Kevin she said, "I know that I should have called earlier but it's taken me sometime to pull myself together."

"Are you alone now?" Kevin asked hesitantly.

"Yes, Matt came back to the apartment with me but he left quite some time ago. He knows all about us now. Unfortunately, he heard it first from someone else tonight. We argued and he left, saying that we needed a few days apart before we could talk again."

"So you two didn't finish talking tonight?"

Ellen replied, "No, we didn't."

Kevin drew a long breath. He needed to know now if Ellen had made any decisions about her future, and in essence his future also. "Ellen, when you came into Luke's office tonight, I sensed that you were coming to me. Was I right?"

"Yes," Ellen admitted, "I was coming to you. I don't know what there is between us Kevin or if we have a future together, but I need to find out. I can't marry Matt and always be thinking "what if". It would be better for me to be alone than to have those doubts and also have Matt sense them. So yes, I want and need to understand what this is between us."

Kevin would never be able to describe the overwhelming relief and joy that permeated through his body. He swallowed hard and blinked his eyes, silently thankful for Ellen's decision. After several seconds he found his voice again and asked, "When can we see each other and talk?"

"Kevin, I need to talk to Matt again first. He was too angry to talk about our engagement tonight and I had no right to try to ask him to do so. I need to talk again to Matt before we see each other, so it may be a few days."

"I understand," Kevin replied, not able to hide his disappointment. "It's just that, it seems as if because we've voiced how we feel about each other, I have this pressing need to see you and be with you. Do you understand what I mean?"

"Yes, I do Kevin. I know exactly what you are feeling. That was one of the things I wanted to tell you in Luke's office. I want to see you too but I must talk to Matt first. I should have done it some time ago and we can't see each other anymore until I do, O.K.?

"O.K." Kevin promised. "Can I at least call you tomorrow?"

"Yes, please do." Ellen rubbed her neck as she finally started temporarily release some of the tension she'd felt all night. No matter what their relationship proved to be, Ellen knew that the foundation was a strong and deep friendship with Kevin. They had shared some of their best and worst experiences with each other during the brief 3 years they'd known each other, and tonight was no different in that respect. Recognizing this, a faint trace of a smile appeared on Ellen's face as she added, "That is, if I don't call you first. Good night Kevin."

Ellen listened to the noticeable pause before Kevin eventually said, "Good night." Some things shouldn't be said during a telephone conversation; Kevin would wait to say what was on his mind when he would see Ellen.

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