But right now? Thinking about Father’s Day, how I’m all alone, and how Cassidy is dead makes me feel like I might be dying right now. The pain is that devastating.

“Fuck,” I mutter as I push up quickly from the table. The plastic chair I’d been sitting in flips backward. The other two doctors look concerned, but they don’t say a word.

I stumble past the table, then out of the lounge. I don’t even know where I’m going. Walking like a drunk, I careen off walls. Suddenly, I realize I left my cane back in the lounge.

Fuck it.

There’s a men’s bathroom up ahead. I push through the door, stumbling toward the sink. After I turn the cold water on, I throw handfuls of it into my face, realizing I’m gasping for breath.

Panicking.

I don’t how to deal with this pain.

“Goddamn it,” I roar as I stare at my reflection in the mirror. A crazy man glares back. “Get a fucking grip, Benjamin.”

Squeezing my eyes shut, I take several deep breaths. I will myself to move past the panicky feeling of losing everything that is important in my life again.

Why is this happening? Why now?

I suck in another deep breath, holding it deep in my lungs until my eyes start to water from the effort, then I let it back out slowly. When I force myself to look at my reflection again, the answer is clear.

This is happening because of Elena. She had opened me up.

Made me reach for possibilities.

She’d burrowed her way into my life, and I’d thought she might be an angel sent to rescue me.

A mirthless laugh erupts from within me. I give myself a chastising head shake in the mirror.

“She’s no angel,” I tell myself. “Because there is no God.”

CHAPTER 14

Elena

I can’t tell if I’m worried about Benjamin or pissed at him. We were supposed to meet up at The Wicked Horse night before last, but he hadn’t shown up.

Hadn’t called.

Hadn’t texted.

Of course I reached out to him. I felt like an idiot, waiting at the bar in The Social Room for him, fending off other men’s advances while I sipped on a glass of wine. I texted him and when he hadn’t responded, I’d called. I’d gotten his voice mail.

Benjamin is a punctual man, so when he’d been twenty minutes late with no word from him, I’d known he wasn’t coming. I didn’t even finish my wine—just threw a five-dollar tip on the bar top and left. It never occurred to me to stay and enjoy myself with someone else, because Benjamin and I had agreed to be exclusive. At that point, I was more worried than anything.

Of course I thought the worst. Car accident, mugging, or brain aneurysm. For all I knew, he could be dead somewhere and I wouldn’t even know what happened. We weren’t close enough I could just jump in my car and drive to his house to check on him. I had no clue where he lived.

So I went home, had another glass of wine, and went to bed. I’d slept horribly all night, tossing and turning as I wondered what happened to Benjamin.

My worry on Friday gave way to anger on Saturday. I had to work all day, and I stewed over how he could so rudely stand me up. Based on the nature of the things we’d done together, he at least owed me a simple, “It’s been fun, Elena, but it’s time to move on.” Without those words, he’d left me in a state of worry. And it pissed me off even more. By Sunday morning, I was back to worrying. When I really thought about it, him just breaking it off made no sense. Sometimes, I’m not the best judge of character when it comes to men, but I hadn’t imagined there was something deeper between us. It was something I have never felt with another man. Call it chemistry or primal attraction, but it was something so unique I can’t just dismiss it.

I put on the finishing touches to my makeup—some pressed powder and lip gloss—and smooth my dress down. I’m practically on my way out the door to meet my parents for church, but I still have a few minutes I could spare.

Nabbing my phone, I call Jorie, because it’s time to employ my bestie for what she does best—giving solid advice.

“What’s up?” she answers on the second ring. She and Walsh don’t go to church, so I feel slightly guilty I might be messing with a lazy Sunday morning for them.

“I need your help,” I say as I move through my house, turning off lights and the TV. “Well, Walsh’s to be more accurate.”

“Walsh’s?” she asks in surprise.

Guilt flushes through me, and I know it’s time to fess up. “You know the guy I’ve been seeing?”

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