I wandered around for a bit and then headed back in the direction of the hotel, but the thought of being in that room alone made my footsteps start to slow.
So, I went into the diner a few doors down from the hotel.
It was empty, bar the waitress. But it would do.
I sat down in a booth by the window and ordered coffee and a piece of pie. That was about an hour ago.
I’ve just finished my second cup of coffee, and the pie sits, untouched.
Charlie Puth’s “Dangerously” is playing on the radio. I’m listening to the lyrics and staring out the window.
“Another refill, hon?”
I move my eyes to the waitress. She has a coffee pot in her hand.
“Sure.” I push my cup toward her, using my fingers.
She refills it.
“Thanks,” I say.
I get some creamer from the pot and pour it in before adding some sweetener.
I notice she’s still hovering, and dread passes through me that she recognizes me. My face has been plastered all over the Internet since the news of my “affair” with Vaughn broke.
“Hey, are you—”
“No.” I shake my head, cutting her off. I know I’m probably coming off as rude, but I just don’t care at the moment.
“Oh. Get asked that a lot, do you? ’Cause you sure do look like her. But then I did think, What would someone like her be doing in Klamath Falls?” She chuckles to herself.
“Who?” I ask, curiosity getting the better of me.
The bell on the door behind me rings.
The waitress looks up at whoever just entered. She smiles. “Take a seat, hon. I’ll be right with you.” Then, she looks back at me. “Gigi Hadid. You know, the model who’s dating Zayn. You’re the spitting image of her.”
Gigi Hadid, huh? I wish.
I smile at her. “Thanks for the refill and the compliment.”
“Gigi Hadid,” a familiar voice says, making my whole body freeze. “Nah, you’re way prettier than her.”
I’m almost afraid to turn in case it isn’t him. I think the disappointment would finish me off.
But I do turn. And it is him.
My heart starts to beat triple time.
He smiles, and my heart breaks.
I can’t speak, so I just sit there, mute, while he takes the seat across from me.
“What can I get you?” the waitress asks him.
“Sure thing, hon. Anything to go with that coffee?”
He shakes his head but doesn’t take his stare from me. He hasn’t once looked away from me since I first locked eyes with him.
Well, he might be able to look at me for an extended period of time, but I can’t look at him. Staring at Vaughn right now is like staring at the sun. My eyes are starting to burn and sting and fill with tears.
I suck in a breath and stare out the window.
“I’ll be right back with your coffee,” the waitress tells him.
Silence drags on between us.
He’s right here.
I never thought I’d see him again like this. Never be close to him again.
Don’t lose this chance, Charly, to have more time with him. You’ll regret it if you do.
I just wish I knew why he was here. I’m too afraid to let my heart hope.
I move my eyes back to him. All thoughts fall from my mind.
“You’re not saying anything, Pins. It’s starting to freak me out.” He gives me a tentative smile.
I lick my dry lips. “You’re here.” It’s the best I’ve got at the moment.
“Yeah,” he says softly, “I am.”
“Why?” I want to kick myself for asking, but it’s killing me, having him here and not knowing why.
I’m silently begging him to forgive me for lying to him. Begging for him to want me again.
The waitress brings his coffee over, interrupting us.
“Thanks,” he says, briefly glancing at her. His eyes come back to me.
Silence hangs between us again. The tension is agonizing.
“I spoke to Jack,” he says.
“Oh.” That’s why he’s here.
Jack probably wants him to make an official statement to the press about our “affair.”
“Tell the press what you need to, Vaughn. Tell them the truth. That you didn’t know I was married. You don’t need to be hurt in this any more than you have been.”
“Oh,” he says. “Well, I was kinda thinking that we’d tell them that you and Nick have been separated for a while now but still living together, as you couldn’t afford to move out. I’m guessing you’re in a two-bedroom apartment, that you haven’t gotten around to filing for divorce yet, as it’s another expense you couldn’t afford. You and Nick are on great terms. And he knew all about you and me. About our relationship.”
“You and me?” I breathe.
“Yeah, Pins. You and me.” He reaches across the table, taking my hand in his. “I shouldn’t have let you go earlier. I didn’t mean any of what I said. I was still angry and hurting.”
“You’re not angry anymore?”
He smiles, and my heart soars.
“What?” I ask eagerly.
“In love with you. And nothing else matters but that. Everything else can go to hell, for all I care.”