When I looked over at Abby she was giving me her classic don’t bullshit me look, and I sighed. There was no point in being anything but honest with Abby because she’d just call me out on it.
“I didn’t want to become my mother, okay. A slave to the man she once loved. Tolerating his shit. Picking up after him. Putting out for him even when he’d stuck his dick into some club skank right in front of her.” I chewed on my lip as the memories surged forward. “When he hit her, that was it for me. I wanted out. I didn’t want to end up like that and I knew if I stayed . . .”
“Cade’s not like that. He would never hit a woman. He doesn’t tolerate that old-school behavior. There are not too many guys in the club who would put up with that shit.”
“I know. But when you’re sixteen and you watch your father crumble before your very eyes, and you watch him deteriorate into this monster who beats and cheats on his wife,” I shook my head, hating the memories. “I wanted out. I wanted out and as far away from that as possible.”
“And you got out. And you did everything you said you wanted to do.” Abby looked me right in the eye. “But yet, here you are.”
I gave her a pointed look. “My father died. I had to come back and make sure the asshole was buried.”
Bad memories made me mean.
“But you’re still here. A week later. Maybe that’s because there is something here that is worth hanging around for?”
“I stayed for Mirabella and Jacob’s wedding.” I was still unwilling to admit my feelings to anyone.
But the look she gave me told me I was wasting my time.
My confusion peaked and I had an overwhelming need to confide in someone. To get my tangle of emotions out in the open for someone else to unravel.
I let out a deep, confused breath. “I don’t know what I’m doing, Abby. I have this amazing life back in Seattle. And I’m happy. Really. But then I came back here and this place, and these people . . . I feel like I belong here, too.” I covered my face with my hands. “I don’t get it. What do I do?”
Abby peeled my face from my hands and fixed me with those wise blue eyes of hers. “You work out which one makes you more happy. Your life back in Seattle without Cade. Or a life here in Destiny with Cade. The way I see it, that boy is so in love with you it’s completely your choice.”
I bit my bottom lip as I digested her words. On the dance floor, Cade untangled Cora from around his neck and kissed her politely on the cheek before walking away.
The thought of living without him opened a gaping hole in my chest. But the thought of him breaking my heart again was too much to bear. Did I risk it?
“I’m so confused,” I whispered.
Abby looked sympathetic. “Do you love him?”
My eyes found hers. “That’s the sad thing, Abby. I never stopped.”
I walked down to the river’s edge, away from the party. I needed a break. I was so acutely aware of Indy and it was killing me. Not being able to touch her. Knowing she wasn’t mine. I drained the bourbon from my glass and stared across the river to where the last ribbon of light was slowly sinking beneath the tree line.
It didn’t matter that I wanted to kiss her. Touch her. Bury myself so deep into her I would lose where I ended and she began. Because she belonged to another man and I had no right.
Not that I gave a fuck about Anson and what he thought.
It was Indy I had to respect. And this was what she wanted.
I ran my hand through my hair. I wasn’t too proud to admit I was fucking terrified of losing her. Fucking terrified of her returning to Seattle. But it was a fucking hopeless situation. She didn’t want me anymore, and yet I couldn’t imagine a future without her in it. Giving up wasn’t in my nature, but that was exactly what she wanted me to do.
The snap of a twig told me I wasn’t alone.
I swung around.
It was Cora. Mirabella’s kid sister who was visiting from college for the wedding.
I watched her make her way toward me. She was a cute kid. Good looking. And the pink dress she wore did little to hide her smokin’ figure. But she was young. Naïve. Needy. She had a crush on me and she didn’t try to hide it.
“Here you are,” she said. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. They’re about to cut the cake.”
“Thanks.” I wasn’t in the mood for cake. Or to see Indy. I wanted bourbon. Not that there was enough bourbon in the world to help me. But for tonight, at least I could drown my sorrows until I passed out. “I might pass on it.”