The credits were rolling, Sabrina Burnham sat in the darkened movie theater, and her emotions were raw. She was initially going to skip seeing the new movie that had just been released, the one directed by Chris Evans. But the buzz surrounding it was incredible. It was not very often that almost every movie critic agreed on how good a film was, but they did agree on this one. They had glowing reviews of the movie itself, but especially for the director. The critics commented on how you could tell he had poured his heart and soul into it and had grown so much from his directorial debut a few years earlier. With all of the wonderful praise for him, there was no way she could miss seeing it. While he wasn’t starring in the movie, she could see him throughout it. It was harder to watch than she had anticipated.
Over the last eighteen months, Sabrina had done all she could to put him out of her mind. She had traveled extensively, staying out of Chicago where memories haunted her. She made the conscience effort to not fly through Los Angeles or Boston. She didn’t want to risk accidently running into him at the airport. She tried to stay away from him on the internet as well; not following his Twitter account or reading Google alerts for the latest news.
She did know that he had recently filmed two movies after his directorial project was complete. One had already been released, and the press tour had put him on Ellen, Kimmel, and Fallon. She saw highlights but couldn’t watch the full clips; she did notice that he looked as handsome as ever. The press tour for his directorial piece was already in full swing, and he would be doing return engagements on the talk shows. Chris had also been in the tabloids and entertainment magazines; she was sure he hated that. He had started a relationship with a woman at one of the studios, and it got quite a bit of publicity. They did the red carpet together and had been seen numerous times in public. Each time she saw photos of the two of them, it ripped her heart out. But she thought he looked happy, and it was good to see that he had at least moved on. She just wished she could have done the same.
So it came as a shock when she heard the news that he and his girlfriend had split. The rumor was that she was upset that he wasn’t willing to take their relationship to the next level. She was telling anyone who would listen that Chris had commitment issues and enjoyed being a playboy versus settling down. This, of course, became a huge headline on every gossip site and entertainment show. Sabrina had to admit she felt sorry for him. He liked to keep his private life, well, private. It meant that his girlfriend didn’t truly know or understand him. At least when her relationship with him ended, no one knew about it. It wasn’t in the paper, and it was never on TV. Of course, no one even knew they were dating, but again, that just shows how they were able to keep it quiet. Just the way Chris liked it.
The lights came up in the theater, and Sabrina knew she had to leave. She grabbed her purse and made her way out into the bright afternoon sunshine. She had been back in Chicago for a few days and figured with the movie behind her; she should go over to the office and see how things were going. Besides, she had a package that needed to be put together and shipped out. She wanted to try and get it out in today’s FedEx pickup if at all possible.
~ * ~
The house was silent, Chris was enjoying the solitude this morning; it wouldn’t be like this all day so he had to enjoy it while he could. He was in Los Angeles for the next two weeks and then he would be heading home to Boston for a vacation with his family. He opened up the wall of windows across the back of the house, letting in the fresh air of the morning. He made himself a cup of coffee and was preparing to step out onto the back patio when he heard a truck pull up in the driveway. He stopped and listened for a moment, then heard a knock at his front door. He sat his cup down on the bar then made his way to the door, opening it to find a FedEx delivery man on his porch.
“Good Morning, are you, Chris Evans?” The man asked politely.
Chris smiled, “Uh, yeah, I sure am. I take it that’s for me?” He asked reaching out for the box. The driver nodded and provided the device for Chris to sign and accept the package. He thanked the driver, closed the door, then walked over to the kitchen table to open the box.
He was a little perplexed to find two envelopes and a small box inside the package. The little box was the size you might get in a department store when you buy small pieces of jewelry. Curiosity got the better of him, and he opened it first. Inside he found a key ring with two keys on it. “Hm, okay, so what are you for?”
He then opened the larger manila envelope, inside he found a beautifully detailed artist rendering of a log cabin. The home was beautiful, and he began to wonder if the keys were for the home. He just didn’t know why he was getting them. He reached for the white #10 envelope and pulled out the letter that was inside. As he unfolded it, he realized it was handwritten and in beautiful script. It was then that he guessed who wrote the letter.
My Dearest Chris,
I am sure you are wondering why I am writing. I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. I can only say that I felt compelled to do it. I’ve just returned to my office, I’ve been at the movie theater watching your latest film. You did a marvelous job with it; your direction was beautiful, and I could tell you poured your heart into it. I could see you throughout the movie, even though you never appear on the screen. I know you must be proud. I know I am.
Over the last eighteen months, I’ve tried to put you in my past, but it hasn’t been as easy as I had hoped. You made me believe in love like I’ve never done before. Made me think I was worth something and deserved happiness. Unfortunately, my belief in that left when you did.
Before you crumple up this letter and throw it away, please know that I never meant to hurt you. I don’t know how to make you understand there was never malicious intent on my part. I only did what I thought was right to protect you. I realize, I went about it the wrong way, but know that I would do it again if I thought I was protecting you and keeping you from harm’s way. I’m not making excuses, but breaking your trust and your heart, was not my intention. And it hurts me every day to know that I did that to you. I am deeply sorry. My therapist has told me that I need to quit beating myself up for what happened. I know she’s right, but I can’t help it when I know that I hurt you like I did. It is a pang of guilt and a regret I won’t be able to get past.
While we were together, I was working on a project for you. Yes, it was a secret, but I prefer to use the term surprise. It was a gift I was preparing for you. When you left, I was unable to work on it for a while. It took months before I could work up the courage to go back and finish it. It’s done, has been for a while, I was just waiting for the right time to present it to you. Now seems like that time.
You told me that Tara’s house in Vermont was your safe haven, your sanctuary when you needed to escape. You felt safe because no one in the outside world knew about it. That’s why you took me there. I felt like you needed your own place to escape to, one that wasn’t dependent on whether Tara and Jason were using the house or not. So, I wanted to give you a sanctuary to call your own.
You’ll find a rendering of the cabin inside the manila envelope. The house is built and is just down the road from Tara’s place in Vermont. Remember the piece of property we looked at, the one with the lake and the gorgeous mountain view? I purchased the property and nestled the home in the perfect spot there. I even made sure your bedroom window would be able to look out and see the blankets of snow, allowing you to have your peace when you wake up each morning. The keys are in the small box.
The house is already furnished; Tara did the design, so I am fairly confident you will find it to be comfortable and to your taste. Please consider this my peace offering. I hope you know how much I love you and want you to be well and happy. Live a happy life, Chris. I hope you achieve all of your dreams.
Chris took a deep breath; he was unable to hold back the emotions as he read her letter. He sat it on the table in front of him, then took a seat. He wasn’t sure his legs could hold him up much longer. He was having a hard time comprehending the enormity of what she had said. He stared at the picture of the cabin; it was stunning. He knew she had drawn the picture; her heart was all over it. But as he stared at it, he couldn’t help but think it looked familiar. He had seen it before, but he couldn’t place where. Suddenly it hit him. He jumped out of the seat and ran to the stack of magazines on his coffee table, shuffling through them looking for the latest issue of Architectural Digest.
There, on page 64 of the most recent issue, he saw his cabin. It accompanied a story on Sabrina Burnham and her award winning innovative home design. He had been keeping up with her, although there had not been very much in the way of his Google alerts lately. He had seen the story about her stepping away from her company, but that was it. Until this article came out. He remembered reading it and being thrilled to see she had done some new designs and had won awards for it. As a matter of fact, she had won two for the cabin alone. He quickly scanned the article and suddenly things made sense. He wasn’t sure why he never caught on to it the first time he read the story. She was quoted as saying she had been inspired by someone very special to come up with this design. It had taken her months to complete because of personal heartbreak; her spirit had been broken, and she had lost the desire to work. He quickly realized she was talking about him. He was the heartbreak, and he was the inspiration. He felt like her giving him the cabin was her way of closing out the chapter of the two of them.
He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He also wasn’t sure he could accept the gift; it was extravagant, and he didn’t think he was worthy of it. She was right, she didn’t do what she did to be malicious, her heart was in the right place, she was just misguided. Maybe Scott was right all along; maybe he could have handled the split better. Her gift got him thinking.
~ * ~
Sabrina was in her home office working on a new project and trying to keep her mind off of the fact that she had not heard from Chris. It had been two days since she had sent him the keys, the drawing, and the letter. Based on the email she received from FedEx, she knew he had signed for the package. Why hadn’t he called, texted, or emailed her about it? Honestly, she wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t reached out. But in the back of her mind, she had hoped that he would. She had even considered that he would send it all back with some note about not wanting it or needing it and for her to leave him alone. She would have even welcomed that, it would have at least been an acknowledgment that he read the letter.
The cabin was such a success that Audrey and Gunner had asked for her to design them a suburban oasis. They were newly engaged and had decided to give up city living and move out into the suburbs. Audrey was also trying to talk Sabrina into expanding the business into residential designs and thought this would be a good test. She politely declined the expansion idea but agreed to help on the home design. She was excited that Audrey had found someone to make her happy, there was no way she would turn down her request to help with the house.
Sabrina was interrupted by the intercom in her office. It was security calling, “Hello, Ms. Burnham, we have a delivery down here for you. Is it okay if we send him up?”
She took a deep breath, figuring this was going to be her response from Chris. “Yeah, send him up. Thanks.”
She made her way out of her office and towards her front door. She checked herself in the mirror to make sure she looked halfway presentable. She had no makeup on, and her hair was in a messy bun, but she at least had clean clothes on and remembered to put a bra on. She had butterflies in her stomach as she waited for the knock on the door, wondering what was being delivered and what his response was going to be.
She was snapped out of her stupor when she heard the loud raps indicating that someone was there. She unlocked the door and flung it open, surprise registering immediately on her face.
He had a faint smile on his face, and his voice was soft, “Hey, I wasn’t sure I could say what I needed to in an email, so I thought I should come and say it in person. Can we talk?”
Sabrina stepped to the side, “Um, sure, come in. I have to say, I honestly didn’t expect you, Chris.”
As he stepped into the apartment, Sabrina quietly closed the front door.