He looks away. “I don’t trust you anymore. And, without that, we have nothing.”
And there it is.
I’m never going to see him again. Except that I will see his face everywhere, in magazines and on-screen.
It’s going to be so hard to be reminded that I had him and I lost him, and I only have myself to blame.
I’ll never get to be close to him again. Never kiss him or hold him or make love to him.
A ball of pain forms in my chest and ruptures. I’ve never felt anything like it.
I press a hand to my chest, expecting to see blood there.
But there’s nothing.
Then, something wet and hot runs down my cheek, hitting my lip.
I touch a finger to it. Pulling it away, I see a tear sitting on the tip of it.
I swallow past the aching, burning pain I feel. “Vaughn.”
He looks up at me.
“I love you. I’m not saying that to try and win you back. I know that I had my chance, and I ruined it. But I couldn’t leave without telling you.” I brush the falling tears away with the back of my hand.
Forcing myself to move, I go back up the porch and get my case.
It’s time to go.
I walk toward him, not taking my eyes from him. He’s not looking at me. His eyes are on the ground.
I will him to look at me, but he doesn’t.
Reaching him, I stop a foot away. But the gap between us feels an awful lot bigger.
He finally looks at me.
I force myself to smile. I know it’s a sad smile, but it’s the best I can manage while my heart is breaking. “What we had…it was and always will be the most important time in my life. I’ll remember it and you forever.”
I go to touch him one last time. I step closer, just to touch my hand to his arm, but he moves away.
He doesn’t even want me to touch him.
The rejection stings my cheeks and brings on a fresh set of tears. I force myself to smile through them even though my lips are trembling and my heart is dying.
“Have the best life, Vaughn West. Be happy. You, more than anyone, deserve it.”
One last look at him, and then I walk away, pulling my case behind me. I don’t look back.
Tears are streaming down my face. I bite my lip to stop the sob that wants to burst out of me.
All I want is to lie down on the grass and curl up into a ball, but I force myself to keep going while my hand rubs away tears that won’t stop falling.
I guess, when you open the dam, a fuck-load of water comes rushing out.
I keep walking, not sure of what I’m doing or where to go. I can see Vaughn’s parents’ house coming up, and I don’t want them to see me.
They must hate me. I kind of hate myself right now.
So, I keep my focus ahead and walk quickly.
I need to get a cab and get out of here. Only I don’t know the numbers of any cab companies. I’ve just got to pray Uber works around here.
I just need to get off the farm and onto the main road, and then I can take a breath and figure out how to get to the airport.
I can just stay there until there’s a flight out of here. God, I don’t even know if there’s a direct flight to New York.
The sound of Vaughn’s grandma’s voice brings me to a stop. I covertly dry my face on my hand and take a breath before turning to her.
“Hi,” I say.
She smiles. “You’re leaving?”
I glance back at Vaughn’s house. “Yes. Look, I’m really sorry about Vaughn…what happened—”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
Her words surprise me.
But I answer her in the only way I can right now, “That’s the one thing I am good at—keeping secrets.” I make a self-derogatory laugh at myself.
“I was married once,” she tells me. “Before I met Vaughn’s granddaddy, I was married to a man I didn’t love. Something tells me that you did the same. Probably for very different reasons, but we both married men we weren’t in love with. Mine was for money to help save my family from bankruptcy. Your reason…I’m not sure of, but you definitely didn’t marry for love. That, I know for sure.”
“What makes you so sure?” My voice is small, timid.
“Call it intuition. Or because of the way you look at my grandson. You only look at one man in your lifetime the way you look at Vaughn. I know because it’s the exact same way I used to look at Vaughn’s granddaddy. Like the day began and ended with him. Well, that, and the fact that you came straight here to see Vaughn instead of going home to your husband.”
She’s got me there.
I stare at my feet, unsure of what to say.
“You want a cocktail?” she asks. “I just made up a jug of piña colada.”
I lift my eyes to her. “It’s pretty early in the day to be drinking.”
“Nonsense.” She waves my words away with her hands. “It’s never too early for a cocktail.” She turns and starts to walk toward the house.
I stay rooted to the spot, unsure if I should go inside. If I can go inside.
Surely, they all must hate me. I must be the last person on earth that his family wants to see.
I honestly don’t know why his grandma is being so kind to me.
She stops and turns back to me. “Nobody’s home, if that’s what you’re worried about. They’re out for the day at the farmers market. So, do you want that piña colada or not?”