Micah’s lips peel back into a bloody grin, which seems completely macabre, but it makes me smile back at him.
His smile dies a little. “I’m really sorry, Walsh. I should have given you the benefit of the doubt. I should have never been wigged out by this in the first place. It was a huge mistake, and I’ve caused a lot of hurt that I’m asking you to fix for me.”
There’s no hesitation when my arm shoots around his neck, and I pull him to me for an awkward bro hug with a huge back slap.
Yes, I hope it hurts a little.
When I release him, I say, “Let’s go get me packed up. I’ve got a flight to catch to L.A. in the morning.”
I rinse my coffee cup out and put it in the dishwasher. The counters are pristine and wiped off. Vince and I bought this—our second house—about four years ago after we’d saved up money. I thought it was my dream home, but I’m realizing that real dreams having nothing to do with granite countertops and Viking appliances.
Still, I made this house into a home, and I smile fondly at all my touches. Buttercup-yellow paint in the kitchen, cream suede couches in the spacious living room, and elegant lamps in the bedroom. All little things I’d picked out that said, “Jorie was here”.
I walk through to the master bathroom and brush my teeth. Love my coffee, but hate the sour aftertaste.
Vince graciously gave me the master suite when I came home with him. I can’t say he offered it altruistically, because I could see he had immediate hope I’d share the bed with him. I knew this because that first evening, he’d pulled me into his arms and tried to kiss me.
The turning of my head away from his mouth was an indication I clearly was not ready for that.
That’s when he graciously told me I should take the master suite, and he would stay in one of the upstairs bedrooms until I was ready to cross that bridge.
I must say, outside of that, life back here with Vince has been a pleasant surprise. While we may not be intimate, we’ve lapsed into a comfortable existence with one another. I’ve found myself smiling, and… that’s solely due to Vince. He’s been charming, amusing, and he’s really been listening to me when we’ve talked. I can tell he’s trying his hardest to show me that he wants this to work, and he’s even being patient by letting me set the pace of things. So far, all I can give him is friendship.
This hurts my heart, because I’m not sure if I can do anything more than that. I’m still unbelievably incapacitated by the hurt of losing Walsh, and it’s still not getting any better. If anything, I’ve layered anger over the top of the pain, because after I grieved, I had to move on to the other stages, right?
And I’m fine in the anger stage for now.
I’m pissed as hell at my brother and Walsh.
Micah for not giving us a chance to explain and driving Walsh away from me.
And Walsh… well, I’m pissed he let Micah drive him away. I don’t like forcing someone to choose, but in this case, and as I feed on some of my bitterness, I know he made a mistake in not picking me over Micah. If he’d done that, he could have still had me, and we would have worked on Micah together. I know my brother; he would have come around eventually.
But Walsh was too fucking scared or cowardly or I don’t know what, but he never considered that option in the first place.
God, I love him, but I want to hate him.
My phone rings, and I realize I left it back in the kitchen. I rush through the house, see Vince’s number, and answer it cheerily. “Hey you.”
“Hey, Jorie,” he says affectionately, and I have to admit… that sounds really nice to my soul.
“What’s up?” I ask him as I lean over the kitchen island.
“My lunch appointment got canceled, and I wanted to know if I could take you out. Want to meet me at Cristo’s in about forty-five minutes?”
I laugh. “You know I can’t pass up their Reuben.”
“Exactly,” he says as a husband who knows Cristo’s makes my favorite sandwich in the world, and I’m totally addicted to the rye bread they use.
“Okay, see you then,” I say.
“See you then,” he says back, and then adds on, “Love you.”
Simple words that got thrown about so casually in our marriage. Every phone call ended with that, or as he was rushing out the door to work, he’d throw “Love you,” out to me. I’d always call back, “Love you too”.
This time, I don’t because it doesn’t come to me easily. My lips are practically glued shut. Instead, I just say, “I’ll see you soon.”