Then there’s the pain of heartbreak and how that destroys trust. Vince tore my self-esteem apart and kicked me out. It was selfish and cruel.

Walsh simply abandoned me in favor of my brother’s friendship, proving I wasn’t good enough for him. My self-esteem took another drastic hit. It was also selfish and cruel.

And yet, both men know they were wrong. They are scrambling to prove it to me, and they are both offering me the world.

They are both offering me exactly what I want.

Taking a seat on a bench under a shade tree, I pull out my phone and call my brother for the first time since he drove Walsh and me apart.

He answers on the first ring. “Jorie… I’m so glad you finally called me. I’m so damn sorry for what I did. I’ve been so worried about you—”

“Did you send Walsh here?” I ask.

“No,” he says outright. “But I did approach him to work things out. I went to him to apologize for what I did, because I had no right to insist you two stay apart. It’s caused so much pain, I can’t forgive—”

“I forgive you,” I say somewhat irritably because I just don’t feel like hearing the apologies anymore. Everyone’s damn sorry. Vince is sorry, Walsh is sorry, Micah is sorry. Okay, so that’s really three men who have hurt me deeply, and yet… I still love them all in different ways.

Forgiveness is the only option.

“Then why did he really come, Micah?” I ask him softly. “As my brother, tell me why Walsh was here today.”

“Because he loves you,” he says simply. “You are it for him, Jorie. He made a grave mistake by listening to me rather than his heart, and he knows it.”

“So, the things he said to me could be just words to get me back?” I ask, but I know deep down, that’s not Walsh. Still, I sort of want to gauge how much Micah and Walsh have made amends with each other.

“He’s legit, Jor,” he chides. “He loves you. Would take a bullet for you. Will bust his ass every day for the rest of his life to give you anything you could ever desire. And yes, that means those things you hold most important, like a family. He’s ready for it, honey. I know it deep in my heart, and I hope you know it, too.”

“I’m not sure,” I say hesitantly, because there’s still one thing that’s bothering me. “He told me about Renee.”

“Okay,” he drawls, not understanding her significance.

“He said they were together and got married because the sex was fantastic and no other reason. Walsh and I have fantastic sex, and that was all it was supposed to be. How do I know that’s not all this really is?”

“Outside of the fact I don’t ever want to talk to you about your sex life with Walsh, I don’t think you’re anything like Renee.”

“But how do I know that for sure?” I press him. “I don’t want to turn my heart back over to Walsh and have him crush it again after a year, when he realizes it was a mistake to marry for sex again.”

Micah’s silent for a moment, then he becomes absolutely no help whatsoever. “You’re going to have to ask him that, Jorie. If it’s bothering you, and you need to know… just ask him.”

I roll my eyes to the sunny sky above.

“But, Jorie,” Micah continues. “I know what you and Walsh have is in a different stratosphere than what he had with Renee. I know this, because even though he pushed you away to appease me, it crushed him. And then it angered him, and he was gladly going to cut me out of his life because of it. It showed me he loved you more than anything in this world.”

Well, that’s something, I guess, but it still isn’t providing me that bright line answer I need.

Or maybe the answer doesn’t even lay with Micah and Walsh, but instead lays with Vince.

I let out a sigh of fatigue and tell my brother, “Okay… thanks for the advice.”

“What are you going to do?” he asks.

“I’m going to go talk to Vince, then I’m going to take a drive up the coast and be by myself for a while. I’m going to think things through without anyone chattering in my ear, giving me their opinions, or making me promises. I’m going to listen to my heart, but I’m also going to listen to my brain.”

“You’ll choose Walsh,” he says confidently.

“I could choose neither,” I reply calmly.

He doesn’t have a rejoinder for that, so instead he says, “You’ll make the right decision whatever it is. And Jorie?”

“Yeah?”

“I know you say you forgive me, but I’m ashamed I did that to you as your brother. I’ll do whatever I can to make it up to you.”

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