Anger. I understand it but I hate it. Understand, looking into his eyes, that he thinks I used him. Hell, maybe I did. I didn’t love him fairly and completely. I loved Brant. I loved f**king Lee. I loved Lee’s imperfections when Brant was so complete, grounded, brilliant. I loved Lee’s wild side, my ability to justify that I was not my mother, that I had chosen life and a lower class life, even if it was just for long enough to eat wings and f**k a boy and ride in a vehicle that was made in America. Did I use Lee? I stare in his eyes and see hate and love and hurt. I struggle to speak, but can’t find anything worthy to say.
“I loved you. I still love you. Even when I hate you, I love you. I always will. I’m not a smart man, but I know that.” He bites his lip in a way that tells me he is close to breaking. To crying. That motion alone brings a new wave of tears, my vision blurring and I rub a hard hand over my eyes, wanting to cement every last view of this man before I lose him forever. He blinks and his face tightens. “Tell me what you want. If you want it, I’ll leave. Not for him. I’ll never do anything for him. But for you, I’ll do it. I’ll f**king kill myself inside of him.”
I want to tell him I love him. I want to tell him but am no longer sure that I mean it. No longer sure that I love him and not because he is a part of Brant. The guilt of what I have done is suddenly heavy, enormous. I want to tell him everything I know he wants to hear. I want to tell him the things I do love him for, but will only complicate this situation even more. So I say the right thing. The thing that will help Brant most. I say the words and wonder at the effects they will cause.
“I want you to leave, Lee. Brant and I… we want a family. A life. But I will never forget you. I will always miss you.”
He looks down, a hard swallow moving through his throat as I watch his hands clench, his mouth tightening into a hard line. He looks up, his eyes wet, his face red with emotion, and we stare at each other.
I do love him. I must. Otherwise I wouldn’t be breaking right now.
He closes his eyes, drops his head. Speaks without looking at me. “Call the doc back, Lucky. Let him take me out.”
I swallow. “You’re leaving?”
He shrugged his shoulders without looking up. “According to him, I can let go. Go wander in lala-land or disappear into Brant somewhere. Dissolve into f**king nothing. I’ll let him walk me through the process. I don’t want you here for it.”
I want to hug him. I want him to wrap his strong arms around me and kiss me and give me one last moment. I want him to dig his fingers into my skin and pull me into him like he can’t get enough. I am selfish. I want it even if it breaks him. Instead, I stand. “I’ll look for you in Brant. He could use a little more Lee.”
“Yeah. Whatever, Lucky.”
Then I stand and walk to the door. Stand there for a moment and wait to see if he’ll look up, give me one last contact, but he doesn’t. He stares at the floor and I never get a final look at his eyes.
I open the door and leave a part of my heart in the room.
I wait in the lounge area of the doctor’s office for four hours. I pace. Watch TV. Inhale every mini-chocolate that is held in the receptionist’s glass dish. I have reached a new level of jittery. Feel like the time in high school, when Dianna Forge’s parents were out of town and four of us held an Uppers and Manicures party in their guesthouse. We rolled and giggled and rummaged through her parents’ bedroom until we found a dildo and their liquor cabinet. Shared sips of something bitter and expensive. It was all fun and games until everyone passed out and I was the only one awake and the uppers wore off and took me really, really low. I blinked and ground my teeth until 5AM, when the meds finally died down enough to let my body crash.
Today I’m not staring at three bleach-blonde heads, paranoid that we have taken too many pills, or that Dianna’s parents might come back from Cabo early. I’m not on a pharmaceutical mix of stupidity. I am, instead, shaking with nerves, waiting alone to see if my future husband comes back as two men or one.
I finally leave. Tell the receptionist I am headed home and to call me when it looks like they are close to wrapping up. I take Brant’s car and tear up the highway to Windere. When I arrive, I skip the shower and crawl into bed fully dressed. Pressing the button to close the blinds, the room darkens into pitch black, the hum of the fan my lullaby for sleep. I close my eyes, my legs twitchy and aching from pacing, and wrap a blanket around myself. Willing my mind to stop moving, I say a long prayer for Brant.
Somewhere during the prayer, I fall asleep.
My cell wakes me, my body jerking into consciousness, legs kicking the blanket off before my hand finds the phone. I answer it while moving off the bed, my hand groping through the dark for the light switch, my feet finding shoes before my hand finds wall. “Hello.”
“Ms. Fairmont, this is Irene from Dr. Terra’s office. He wanted me to tell you that he and Mr. Sharp are almost done.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes. Thanks Irene.” I hang up the cell and step out of the bedroom into the hall, my steps breaking into a jog. Soon, I will have him back. In whatever shape that comes in. I don’t even care at this point. I just want him.
When he walks out of the office, toward the idling car, the wind buffering his shirt back against his strong frame, I smile. Brant is back. The same Brant who shook my hand three years ago at the HYA Gala. The same Brant who repeatedly proposed to me despite my denials. The weight of his shoulders, the haunted look that had appeared the day I ruined his life, is gone. His confidence is back, the strong pull of his hand around my waist surprising, as is the possessive kiss he plants on my mouth.
He studies me for a quick moment, his hand still gripped around me as if he has no plans of letting me go. Then he smiles. “We’re good. Let’s go, we can talk in the car.” He returns to my mouth without waiting for a response, my breath taken by the force of his kiss, stronger than I am used to from him, the type of kiss that guarantees a long and lengthy f**k the minute we step inside the house. He releases my mouth and my waist but pulls on my hand, heading for the car.
“What happened?” I speak the moment the car is in drive, hours of waiting and anxiety spilling out in two words.
“Dr. Terra spoke to Lee. He agreed to leave.”
I wait for more. Wait some more. “And?” I finally say.
“And he left.”