It had been confirmed this morning when I’d gotten his text.

Granted, his text then went on to ask a bunch of questions about how I was feeling. Clinical, flat, unemotional questions.

I didn’t bother answering them other than to say I felt fine and not to worry about me.

That was over four hours ago, and I haven’t heard anything else from him. I get our relationship is new, but the way things have been going these past few weeks—particularly after our talk on the boat on the Fourth of July—I expected more of him.

And I’m not stupid either. I know what’s going on.

It’s not that Benjamin doesn’t have it within him to be supportive and caring in a situation like this. I know he does.

It’s that this entire situation has freaked him out and catapulted him backward, straight into the fear-based way he’d been living.

“I think it’s over between Benjamin and me,” I murmur, expressing the fear I’ve been analyzing all morning. The tears once again prick at my eyes.

Jorie pushes up, moves her ass onto the side of the couch near my hip, and gives me a concerned glance. “What makes you say that?”

“Because he’s not here,” I mutter almost petulantly.

“But you said he’s on call,” she replies with a frown.

I sigh, knowing I’m not making sense. “Yeah… I know. He’s on call. But I think he took it on purpose to avoid me.”

“Okay, slow down… back up. Start from the beginning and tell me what’s going on, because just the day before yesterday when we talked, everything was going fabulously. You even told me you were fairly sure you were falling in love with him.”

That’s true. I’d confided that to my best friend, which meant it was true. I wouldn’t have said it otherwise, and I still feel that way. It’s why it hurts so bad he’s not here right now, or at least doing a bit better job of checking in on me.

I’ve never really told Jorie anything Benjamin discussed with me about the way he lived the past year. I think she’s surmised some of it, but the things Benjamin has told me directly I’ve held close between us and won’t share.

But I do my best to describe the hurdles we’ve had to overcome. “Benjamin, as you can imagine, had sort of shut himself off from the world after the accident.”

Jorie nods. She knows this.

“It was not only his way of burying the pain of his losses, but also ensuring it doesn’t happen again.”

“Don’t ever care for someone, then you’ll never be hurt when that person is taken away,” she summarizes.

“Exactly,” I say. “And well… Benjamin and I have developed feelings for each other. He’s risked his heart to open up, and I think what happened to me might have been a very stark reminder of why he had kept himself closed off in the first place.”

“You think he’s dumping you because this was what? Too scary for him?” she asks with an incredulous expression on her face.

“He hasn’t actually dumped me,” I say with a trace of bitterness in my voice. “But it’s coming. I know it. Even when he came to the hospital to see me yesterday, I felt him pull away. I could see the disconnect in his eyes.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” she mutters.

“It does if you understand he cares too much for me. Yesterday was a stark reminder of the frailty of life, and he doesn’t want that pain again.”

Jorie grimaces. “You sound so understanding and accepting. I’m pissed at him.”

“You don’t love him,” I point out. “I do understand.”

“But it hurts, right?” she asks tentatively.

“Hurts like fuck,” I admit.

“What are you going to do?” she asks, knowing me well enough to know I’ll never sit back and wonder about these things.

“Can you drive me to Vegas?”

She blinks in surprise. “Right now?”

“Now,” I affirm with a solid nod of my head, which hurts like hell. I push up on the couch, dislodging Jorie from my side. She stands, then holds a hand out to me, so I latch on. She hauls me up, and I grimace from the lance of pain through my head.

I can see she wants to push me back down to make me rest, but she also knows I won’t rest until I figure out what Benjamin’s thinking and whether we are, in fact, over.

If he can’t handle this, then I’ll gracefully back away. I don’t want to cause him more pain. He’s been through his lifetime’s share already. I also don’t want things to drag out between us. I don’t want drama.

One of the reasons Benjamin and I have meshed so well is because we are both transparent with our wants and needs.

I need him to tell me the truth. If he’s even half the man I think he is, I know he’ll give it to me straight.

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