“Micah’s friend?” he asks. They’ve never met, but he’s heard Micah talk about him plenty and I’ve talked about him a little bit over our years of marriage.

I nod again. “I didn’t expect it to happen. Wasn’t looking for it, but…”

“But why wouldn’t you?” he asks with some self-recrimination. “I gave you every reason to.”

“It’s okay,” I say candidly. “I’ve been doing a lot of reflection, and I don’t think I was the wife you needed me to be.”

“Not true,” he says immediately. “I was a selfish asshole who got stuck on myself. I saw I wasn’t the husband you needed. I boiled it down to sex, and honestly, I’m selfish in bed, too. I think I took and didn’t give enough.”

I shrug. “I don’t have it all figured out. But maybe we’re both right.”

There’s a heavy moment of silence, and Vince pushes off the bed. He paces around the small room, looking at nothing really because I have nothing of me in here. This was only ever supposed to be temporary for me.

Finally, he turns around and says, “I’ve been reflecting, too.”

I tilt my head, oddly at ease with my husband for some reason. He’s being so transparent, and I’ve never seen that before.

“I don’t think I had my priorities right in life,” he says hesitantly. “When I asked you to leave, I had put myself at the top of the totem pole. Right below that was my job, and Jorie… it embarrasses the fuck out of me to admit this, but I’m not even sure you were next. I don’t think there was anything else after that, and I’m just so sorry I failed you in that respect.”

Tears spring into my eyes again. I’m completely blown away by his admission. In our entire marriage, Vince has never taken responsibility for his flaws. He’s refused to believe he’s anything less than perfect.

“Thank you for saying that,” I say quietly.

He nods and comes back to the bed, sitting beside me. When he takes my hand, I let him, because it feels safe and secure. “I know I’m not the cause of your current heartbreak, but if you let me… I’d like to help you fix it.”

My eyebrows draw inward. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, come back home with me,” he says with earnest determination. “Give me another chance. Let me try to fix what I broke. I’ll go to counseling if that will help, but I’m not ready to throw away eight years with you so easily.”

I stare at him with astonishment. I know this man very well, and I’ve never seen him show such genuine vulnerability before. It’s so contrary to the man I know, I’m not sure I can trust it. Still, we have eight years together, and I need to hear him out.

“Vince… you understand I’m broken because I love another man,” I say softly, knowing that’s going to hurt.

He winces but nods. “I get that. But you loved me once, didn’t you?”

“Very much,” I admit.

“Then come home with me and let me see if I can get that back. I’ll take it slow if you want. You set the pace. But come with me and let me take care of you the way you deserve. If nothing else, it will give you a safe place away from bad memories. If you do nothing more than just heal, it will make me feel good to help you do that.”

The timing of Vince’s visit couldn’t be better. The timing couldn’t be worse. He’s caught me at the lowest point of my life, and he offers me a life raft. I did love Vince very much. I love Walsh so much more.

But of the two loves of my life, there’s only one standing before me offering to help heal my broken heart.

I give Vince’s hand a squeeze. “It’s a nice offer for a girl like me.”

“But?”

“But even if you and I fix everything that you broke by the way you asked me to leave, there’s still a fundamental difference between us.”

Vince looks genuinely perplexed. “What’s that?”

“Children,” I say simply.

“Children?” he repeats, as if he doesn’t understand the concept.

“You don’t want them,” I remind him.

“Who said I don’t want them?” he returns, and my jaw just drops open.

“Vince,” I say with disbelief. “After I miscarried, you were relieved because you weren’t ready. And you’ve always disliked kids. Whenever we’re around other kids, you’re always complaining about them.”

Understanding dawns like the sunlight of a new day on Vince’s face, but then his look turns a bit reproachful. “Jorie… you and I haven’t really had a serious discussion about this, but let’s talk about it now. I wasn’t relieved when you miscarried. I was saddened, but I’ll admit I was scared shitless to have kids at that point in my life. I wasn’t ready to be a parent. I wanted to be a husband first, and figured kids would come later. Much, much later. And yes, I’ve complained about other kids because those other kids have been assholes. I would hope we wouldn’t raise an asshole.”

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