“Why would you drop out of law school?” I asked.
We were in my apartment in Boston. I’d already graduated and been working at a financial company for a few months. Marty was going to Yale Law School in Connecticut but had shown up at my place unexpectedly. We’d been on and off for close to a year now. Things started getting rockier after he went to law school. Every time I’d break up with him, he’d apologize profusely and promise to change. I’d forgive him and we’d try again. It was complicated between us.
This was one of our off cycles.
He shrugged. “It was pointless. I hated it.”
“But you were going to work at your dad’s firm right? What’s he going to say?”
“He can go screw himself,” Marty huffed. “That’s all he cares about: his law firm. He’ll probably be pissed and cut me off financially but whatever. I’m sure I’ll find something else to do.”
“Marty, it doesn’t sound like you’ve thought this through. You’re over halfway done. Why not just finish it?”
“It’s stupid. I never wanted to do it anyway. My dad just forced me to do it. Having his son go to the top law school in the country makes him look good. He doesn’t really care about me.”
“You’re upset, Marty. Let’s think about this.”
“No one cares about me. Dad’s never around. Mom’s a mess. You’re all I have Kristen.”
I inhaled air into my lungs to compose myself. “We can’t keep doing this, Marty. It’s getting tiring. We go through the same thing over and over again.”
“I’m tired too but we love each other too much.” He stared into my eyes. The intense gaze from those blue irises bore through layers of doubt and uncertainty. “We both know we’ll never be over.”
I shoved clothes and items into my luggage in a hurry. My pinky still hurt, which made it difficult picking things up with my right hand. I needed to get out of here. Get out of Boston.
Thankfully I didn’t have much stuff. The apartment had been fully furnished when I moved in. All my essential things fit into two large suitcases—at least they did after I smooshed everything together. Everything else I could leave behind.
As for the email and Facebook passwords, I’d have to change them when I got to New York.
I needed to start over.
The pounding at my apartment door became a quiet knock after I told him to go away. The controlled response irritated me. How could Vincent act so cool after I’d just found out he cheated on me with Ariel? That ass**le had some nerve showing up at my doorstep. I was going to open the door and scream at him. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and he’d fooled me.
The worst part though—he wasn’t the first.
I twisted back the deadbolt, but purposefully left the chain lock in place. Vincent wasn’t coming inside—not unless he begged. And even then, probably not. I opened the door a crack and glanced at the man standing on my welcome mat.
It wasn’t Vincent at the other side of the door.
Piercing blue eyes. Square, rimless glasses. Tousled brown hair parted down the center.
It was Marty.
My hand instinctively leaped to the heart-shaped necklace around my neck. How could this be happening? I’d been so consumed with Vincent and work lately that I nearly forgot he had shown up at my apartment a month ago when only Riley was home.
“Kristen! I’m so glad I found you. I’ve been so worried.” The familiar crisp, masculine voice flowed over me, halting my breath. He placed one hand over his heart while keeping the other one behind his back. He was wearing a black v-neck over jeans that led down to brown suede boots. The casual, laid-back appearance contrasted sharply with my reaction to seeing this man on my doorstep.
“Marty?” I wanted to shut the door, to run away, to change addresses again. Maybe change my name this time. But I couldn’t move. My hands and feet had turned to ice.
“Wow, you look amazing.” He smiled as his eyes scanned up and down my body. “Even better than I remember. I don’t know how that’s possible.”
I became acutely aware that I was still wearing the hip-hugging black dress I’d worn to dinner with Vincent. My hair was still styled but my makeup was a mess after crying over Vincent’s infidelity.
“H-How did you find me?”
“When I went to your place in Boston, I found out you weren’t there. I didn’t know where you went until I typed your name into Google recently and found this address.”
That’s insanely strange. I regularly Googled myself to make sure my new address never showed up on the internet for that very reason. I knew my company never posted specific employee information on their website. Had I slipped up somehow?
He continued. “I want to say I’m so so sorry for everything I’ve put you through. I know why you left in such a hurry and I can’t blame you.”
Tears caught in my throat as I recalled the traumatic moments of my pinky being twisted. A flood of conflicting emotions confused me. Fear. Relief. Pain. Hope. Good and bad memories flashed through my mind. Office hours. Swing dancing. Nights we made love. Days we screamed at each other. His fist going into the wall. We’d been together for two and a half years and I thought I’d locked away those memories in some dark recess of my brain but all of it came crashing down on me now like an avalanche.
“I know I can’t ever take things back. I should’ve called but I knew I had to tell you this in person.”
My grip on the necklace tightened. He was right. He shouldn’t have just shown up on my doorstep unannounced. Not the first time. Not like this. I glanced warily at his other hand, which was still behind his back. I clicked off the safety on my mace necklace preparing for what he might do after what I was about to say to him.
“Marty, you shouldn’t be here.”
His blue eyes shifted. A subtle cover slid over them that changed their appearance to pleading. “I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry. I’ve been working on myself. I’ve been seeing Dr. Perkins. I haven’t given up on us.”
“That was two years ago,” I stuttered. “I’ve moved on. I needed to start over.”
A flinch in his features betrayed frustration. For a brief instant his eyes flickered intensity. It was the same look as when he punched a hole in his apartment wall. But as soon as it appeared, it disappeared. “Don’t give up on me, Kristen. We’ve been through so much together. We’ve shared things we’ve never shared with anyone else. Don’t throw that all away.”